Saturday, August 08, 2009


I've been here for a week, and this is the first time I've had internet access. Sorry for the lack of updates! The rains came late this year and most electricity is hydroelectric, so we only have power half the time. The plane ride here was uneventful in a good way. I sat next to a lady with a 7 month old baby who was returning home to Ethiopia, so most of the 17 hours flew by with baby-sitting and cooing. My favorite part of the trip so far was our time in Bahir Dar. A quiet town on Lake Tana, a college town, and we had a peaceful quiet time there. We saw hippos in Lake Tana, visited monastaries, and visited the Blue Nile Falls. That was a great time - we followed a path for about 20 minutes, including a brief boat ride across the Blue Nile. We had to weave our way between cows and goats, waved and said "'allo" to every shepherd child we passed, and eventually had the standard entourage of kids walking along with us and staring/asking us where we're from. One guy decided to give us walking music, playing his flute almost the entire walk as accompaniment. It made for a rollicking walk! The Falls were...well, beyond words. Both because it was so beautiful and impressive, and also because I felt so in tune with the rhythm of the place. The entire Bahir Dar trip was made extra special by our fabulous guide, Kassahoun. He is from the town and lived there his entire life, and had great pride in everything we saw. He told stories from growing up there, as well as traditional Ethiopian fables and jokes, and generally made the entire stay personal, fun, and full of laughs. From Bahir Dar, we drove up to Gondor, where yesterday we visited the Royal Enclosure and the famous church (which name I can't remember without my guidebook, sorry). But the best part of the drive was stopping off on the side of the road unexpectedly and taking our coffee ceremony supplies with us to visit a family home. We walked a little path for maybe 10-15 minutes across the countryside (of course, we picked up an entourage along the way of kid shepherds) to our guides friends' house. There, we spent about an hour talking about their lives and ours. We sang "Row your boat" as a round for them, they sang their school opening song for us. We roasted coffee, ate bread, and talked (with translation) about how their lives are changing. The patriarch of the family is sad that it's harder to have good friends now - that people don't spend as much time building community and sharing coffee as they used to. Isn't that same story that we hear from past generations in the US, too? Seems like a universal constant. We fed the kitten bread, shoo'ed the chickens out of the coffee area, and laughed at the cow lowing in the next room over.

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