It is market day in both Maji and Tum. But people walk from far and wide to participate, so it doesn’t get rolling until about 3 p.m. That left us a full day in Maji looking out at the vistas and creating our own art, trying our best to give you, the viewer, the depths of the experience that we were having.
But the adventure really started in the market in Maji, where the market drives people from all over the region including the Surma tribespeople. They come to share their wares. At first our foreign presence was met with skeptical looks. Our team member Caroline, as well as our Ethiopian painters, are fluent in the Amharic language, so we made a few friends, but once the Polaroid came out, the whole village was our friend.
There was lots of laughter, lots of grabbing at my shirt asking for one photo, and me doing my best to oblige. It was such a joy watching people look at the first photo they may have seen of themselves, and all the while, the market spun around us in the ways that Ethiopian markets do.
Being the adventurous team that we are we, decided we could also take on the Tum market. And so we did, with as much excitement as we had the Maji market. The instant camera let us connect to the people in a way that just visiting a market doesn’t. We have the ability to offer them something. Oftentimes, as a traveler, you feel you were just taking photos and making photos for yourself. But with the instant film we could hand them something as a thank you in return, and this made all the difference.
The smiles, the laughter, the looks on people’s faces. None of it will soon be forgotten, and will forever hold a special place in my heart!