Purros Himba Tribe (Photo Diary)
In Purros we visited Himba women whose fine jewellery made of metal, bone and skin would not look out of place strutting down an Alexander McQueen runway. We listened to the snap of branches and the purr of dessert elephants as they tramped past our tent on their midnight moseys and Bow Wow ate so much of their poo we renamed him Shitlips.
Our first sighting of a Himba hood!
This semi-nomadic tribe have managed to maintain their traditional way of life for centuries, rejecting the trappings of the modern world and surviving in the harsh, often waterless conditions of Kaokoland.
Bow Wow and this Himba hound were perfectly matched for rough and tumble games.
These burnished beauties' lives are devoted to tweaking their appearance and they are every bit as gorgeous as the sashaying divas on MTV.
They spend hours every day smearing a mixture of ground up ochre (red rock) and butter fat all over themselves to cleanse their skin and to protect it from the sun and insects.
Powder room. Himba women never wash themselves with water. Instead they cleanse their skin by reapplying fresh layers of red ochre and butter fat.
This pot contains a perfume made from the bark of a local tree which, we can vouch, keeps them fragrant.
We hate to think what Ririlceho's daddy did. His name means revenge.
His silky ochre skin smelt like milk and honey.
Himba women make the shelters from dried mud, dung, skins and old blankets while the men herd the cattle, sheep and goats.
Married Himba women tie a piece of goat leather known as an 'erembe' to the top of their heads. The conch shell on her necklace is a symbol of fertility.
Such warm, kind people. By the time we left, Bow Wow was a red head from all the stroking.
- One things for sure, Himbas know how to accessorise. New fashions spread from settlement to settlement and so their style is always developing.
I loved the headband that this girl was wearing and she sold it to me. It is one of my most treasured possessions.
Unlike their Herero relatives, the Himbas did not convert to Christianity. Himbas believe in a Holy Fire and in their ancestors.
Lachlan made the children laugh by walking on his hands.
He may have inadvertently started a new craze in Kaokaland.
Dust of ages.
This fierce looking woman is the matriarch of the tribe and yet....
we couldn't help thinking that we had seen her at a trance party.
The ochre on their skin shimmers like intense bronzing powder.
Their hair is hardened and lengthened with clay.
Posing for pictures.
We wonder if these young Himbas will be tempted by the modern world.
Yawning Himba child.
The name Himba derives from 'Tjiiimba' which means 'the people that beg' because in hard times they have been forced to do so in order to survive. However, that certainly was not the case in Purros where the women make fabulous jewellery to sell. We hope to go back and buy more from them for the Vagabond Van online shop.
I asked if it is uncomfortable to sleep with their hair caked in clay. Once translated, they all groaned in agreement in just the same way a group of girls in a Glasgow tanning salon might have done if I'd asked about leg waxing.
“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.” (John Ed Pearce)
Bow Wow was either very brave or very stupid to bark at this whopping great dessert elephant.
A traffic jam in Purros.
The local Herero people loved Bow Wow's tricks.
The children taught us some moves to Herero pop music which is known as Oviritje.
Bow Wow is a connoisseur when it comes to poo. Elephant is his favourite.
This dry river bed was like jumbo broken Easter egg shells. The under foot crunch was supremely satisfying.
Wild dessert elephant, lion, ostriches, zebra and many other species often hang out here.
After noising them up all morning, Bow Wow was under attack by a gang of sweeping pied crows.
These swaggering thugs even wear wife-beater vests.
The dainty pink balls on this omungambu tree can be boiled to make a delicious sour/sweet snack.
Each camp site had its own private shower under a big tree.
Home schooled Galen and Tiva were travelling with their bohemian parents.
They were so ridiculously cute and engaging, it made us want some little vagabonds of our own.
Their father Glen is an incredible photographer and they invited us to join his birthday party.
Glen made the exquisite wooden casing for this camera that uses film. You can see some of his work at www.glengreen.co.za
Galen gave us a tour of their home-on-wheels.
Tiva made the icing for her dad's birthday cake and decorated it with seeds and foliage that she found lying around.
Such a wonderful family and so forgiving when Bow Wow jumped up and toppled the ravishing cake on to the sand. As we munched into salvageable slices (with only minimal crunch) Galen mused, "At least the pied crows can share the feast."