Cris in Ethiopia

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Mystery Mission

Posted by Cris on October 1, 2007

On our last night in the Omo Valley we stayed in another Hamer village. The setting was stunning and the people really nice- they had us for coffee, sorghum logs (a breakfast food or treat, evidently) that looked like turds, gave us fresh cow milk in the morning, and were proud to show us their impressive herd of goats and cows. We got to hold baby goats, only slightly bigger than our puppies, and saw two be born the next morning. It looked painful.

Before going to bed Amy and I decided to go for a moon/flash light walk. We exited the compound and immediately happened upon a group of boys, maybe 10 years old for the big ones, who were playing and dancing. We started “chatting” with them, as much as we could with our two completely different languages and hand signals. They wanted to see the headlamp, so we put it on their heads and they danced, each taking a turn. Then they all gathered together in a little huddle, discussing something very important it seemed. Then the biggest boy, who was their leader it seemed, came to me (I had the headlamp) and very excitedly, with many hand gestures of running, hitting things, throwing, and sneaking, explained to me their plan. I had no idea what he was trying to tell us, but it seemed he was asking our permission for some night-time adventure that only we could make possible. Amy and I looked at each other, shrugged, then gave him the thumbs up. A collective smile broke out on the boys’ faces, they kicked the two smallest ones back to their huts (evidently too small for night time adventuring) and we set off on a path into the trees.

Now, a week or so later, Amy and I still have no idea what they wanted to do. What we did consisted of walking around, them stopping every few minutes to confer in a huddle, then walking more. At one point they all scattered, grabbed rocks, and started throwing them into the bushes. “What are they throwing at?” Amy said. Scooping up a few handfuls of rocks I replied, “I dont know, but Im going to throw some too!!”

After maybe a half hour they had another huddle, then solemnly turned, returned the headlamp to me, and we went back to the huts.


Ideas of what they wanted to do: raid a beehive, hunt small animals, throw rocks at a neighboring family, or sneak into a neighbor family’s dance.

The best part was that the boys were sooooo sweet towards us. We were like newborn babies to them- they showed us eash and every bush, so we wouldnt run into the thorns. Every dip in the path was accompanied by a small hand grasping ours, to make sure we didnt trip. And, they wouldnt fight over the lamp. If one boy wanted it, he would take my hand and put it on the lamp, asking me to give it to him.

It was a wonderful, surreal night.


One Response to “Mystery Mission”

  1. Mom/Helen said

    That is one of the sweetest stories I’ve ever heard.

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