Day 12 {Lower Omo Valley}: Curly’s Coils

FACT: I am entangled in Curly’s brown coils
Besides reading the travel notes, Lonely Planet and Bradt guidebooks, I stare straight ahead with a third of my vision taken up by brown coils of curls.
Occasionally I try to concentrate on the lives of Kitty, Levin, Oblonsky, Dolly, Anna, Vronsky and Karenin.
Occasionally I treat myself to observing Curly’s hands.
OK. Hardly occasionally, given that I have a thing for hands.
But you see, Curly’s hands are different.
These are real hands. 
These are hands that are used for real work. Tinkering around with tools such as spanners of various sizes, pliers and the what-nots.
Interestingly, Curly’s hands are rather smallish.
Interestingly, Curly’s hands are not calloused.
If anything they are plump at the right places that makes a vacuum when pressed against another.  
There’s no unsightly veins running on the back of the hands.
Just enlarged pores right below the little finger on his left hand {which I am positive is symmetrical, but I have no line of sight for the right hand}.
After 10 days of intently studying Curly’s hands, it was decided that something beyond or in addition to visual simulation and gratification needs to be achieved. The opportunity came about as we were about to cross the Omo River, filled with dug out boats, to get to the Dassanech tribe.
Dug-out boats along the banks of Omo River, Ethiopia | Penelope Haque | All Rights Reserved
With bulls fighting closeby – horns locked in, kicking up a dust storm as they navigate the banks and trample over fresh laundry – and countless of children going “you, you, you* and grabbing me along the 20 feet drop sandy slope of a river bank, Curly suddenly said:
grab my hand …{minor pause, that could well be imaginary} if you want

Bull fighting & kicking up dust clouds on the banks of Omo Valley, Ethiopia | Penelope Haque | All Rights Reserved
Grab Curly’s hand if I want?!??!?
I was about to explode in happiness and excitement.
The Heavenly Gods of every possible tribe have finally exercised their collective power of intercession!
10 days of my all consuming thoughts lies right in front of me … all within less than a foot of my reach.
But like all mortals tainted by the Devil’s spawn, I was suddenly not contempt with just Curly’s hand.
I wanted to grab all of Curly … and not let go.
Like a smitten teenager, I slipped my hand into his.
If I was beaming like an idiot, I didn’t care. 
If I had turned a shade or two red, I didn’t care. 
The world stood still.
The earth {literally} moved beneath my feet.
Did Curly hold on 2 to 3 seconds longer than necessary?
I’m not certain.
The chemicals in my brain could well be playing tricks on me.
Too much Anna Karenina‘s influenced of pressed hands as a sign of affection could have well gotten into my head that was definitely floating on cloud 9.
In any case … it does seem like a long time ago. An eternity.
Today is Curly’s birthday. 
* most commonly heard phrase by children which means “give give give” in relation to money, pen or sweets 

Boys running after the truck going “you you you” | Photograph by Penelope Haque | All Rights Reserved


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