Ethiopia is a interesting place to visit. For almost a month I was in the city of Addis Ababa, where the smell of burning wood is perpetual and everything seems to be covered with a spray of red dirt. There are government and office buildings–being protected by men with machine guns–next to tin shacks with no plumbing so people must defecate in the street. If you can’t tell–I wasn’t fond of the city.
The real beauty of the place lies outside of the city. Barren expanses of golden land are decorated with one random tree, and small thatch huts–where people live–dot the landscape. People still cook over wood-burning fire to make the traditional injera–the sour sponge-like bread that is a staple for every meal. Cows, chickens, and lambs are killed fresh and stewed for hours before being served for dinner with the fire-hot berbere chili spice.
People of more means live in gated compounds, but even they have kitchens outside the home and often lose water and electricity at random intervals.
I was there with a close friend and his family for a wedding. The people are amazing–they are as vibrant as the lively colors of the Habesha that women wear for such special occasions. There was plenty of music and dancing and food!
Along with my memories, I brought back some very beautiful hand-forged jewelry, a few habesha of my own, and a gabi that was given to me as a gift and is one of my most prized possessions still today. Gabi is a traditional white cotton cloth that can be worn as a blanket or wrap-around.
Check out just a few of my (shamefully bad) pictures:
Some time after the wedding we took to the road southeast out of Addis toward Sodere Resort. We stopped at a restaurant, I can’t remember the name (as this was almost 10 years ago), and saw these dancers performing.
The tradition is to eat with your hands. You scoop up the food, which is usually a stew of some kind, using the injera. Food is served on a communal plate on these small tables.
Along the road I saw this woman presumably carrying water, this thatch house, and a camel herder.
Sodere is a spa town that lies 120 kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa. It features hot springs, popular for its therapeutic effects, and an Olympic size swimming pool that is a popular draw for weekenders from Addis Ababa. The Vervet monkeys were my favorite. They won’t hesitate to steal your stuff. This monkey played Peekaboo with me for ten minutes as I tried to take his picture. Every time I pressed the shutter release button he would turn his face away.
From Sodere, we headed to Langano Lake. We stayed at a small resort on the water where the rooms were small and the beds were draped in mosquito netting–it was cozy and nice. It was a great place to relax by the water or paddle a boat in the calm water while horses strolled by.
These pictures I took don’t do the place justice, so I’m linking to some very beautiful pictures from National Geographic and a cool video about Lalibela, which I didn’t get to visit unfortunately, but is one of the most visited places in Ethiopia.