This is just a series of unedited, unfiltered pictures that I took with my phone as I went for an early morning run outside of Yirgacheffe in southern Ethiopia.
Of course it goes without saying that the pictures in no way do justice to the reality of that jungle-like environment. It had rained pretty hard the previous evening – so everything was especially lush and damp. It was a lot to take in over 10km (and way too much elevation change!)
On the way back into the city Z wanted to stop and buy some onions for her mom- as her sister’s wedding was coming up and many traditional Ethiopian dishes rely heavily on them. They were cheaper and better in the area we were driving through than back in Addis – so we pulled over at one of the make-shift stands that line the highway.
I thought Aaron was exaggerating when he said they needed to buy ‘100kg of onions.’
Nope. Two 50kg bags got loaded in the back after they were packed by hand-sorting and filling them.
As seems to always be the case here – there were a bunch of kids hanging around. They were of course quite interested in all these faranji buying their dad/brother/uncle/neighbor/friends onions.
Someone said they love to have their pictures taken – if you show them the image when you’re done. I’m pretty sure I had no idea a 5cm lcd screen could bring so much joy to a kid.
Through the orange glow of the African sun filtered through the tattered tarp that was the roof, these kids just kept lining up – taking turns – and laughing, giggling and shouting when I’d show them the picture I’d just taken.
As we were reaching the city the traffic started getting heavier – lots of trucks, herds of sheep, taxis, and then some more odd things.
can’t say I’ve ever seen that before. Also must say for a Swiss guy – Philip has that crazed-Ethiopian-call thing down pretty good.
I landed at Bole airport in Addis Ababa around 3:30 am. But by the time I realized that – in fact -my bags had not made the connection in Cairo (which I had suspected – and specifically asked the EgyptAir agent “but my bags were only tagged to Cairo – how will they make it?” –
“no problem – they are already on the plane”
Since i was in transit – he was the only desk that I could get to -and I was directed on through transit security – which involved everyone passing through a metal detetor that went off – and you just keep walking.
Needless to say the bag of French cheese that was pretty ripe smelling when we put it in my suitcase – was seriously stanky after sitting in the heat of the Cairo International tarmac for 24 hours before being sent on to Addis.
I didn’t realise it at the time I booked my tickets – but I landed on Ethiopian Easter weekend. (over the weekend one prayer went like this: “Thank you Lord for what you did for us that first Easter – we’re not sure why you did it for the Ethiopians 3 months later – but thanks anyway”) So that meant that the day I landed was a holiday – Good Friday – so there was nothing I could do in Addis as all offices were closed.
Aaron and Zide and some friends were heading down south to lake Longano to stay with some other friends who work there at a clinic/school/kids camp/church on the lake- so I gladly accepted that offer. Slept for about 3 hours and then headed out of town.
On the way out of town Aaron pointed out that the spare tire in our van was flat – so maybe we should have that taken care of – so we found someone who gently removed the tire from the rim with his pointed 4kg sledge hammer – put in a new tube – and we were off.
On the way out of the city the scenery started changing quite quickly – and I saw stuff like:
About an hour or two into our drive there was an enormous BANG-THUMPTHUMPTHUMP as we blew out our right front tire. Good thing we had a spare.
Luckily I had just changed our snow tires off our car a few weeks before (which seemed surreal to think of in the surroundings I found myself in) – so I was all in practice so I slid the jack under the van, Aaron popped off the tire and we were off like a professional pit-crew. But – in the few minutes it took us – people started coming to see why this van full of faranji – white people- was stopped on the side of the road in the middle of nothing. First a few kids came from behind trees. Then people walking down the road. I counted 35 when we left. And there were none when we stopped. In fact – when we stopped you would have sworn that there was no person for a long distance in either direction.
We tried to fix the now flat tire -by stopping at tire shops (road-side huts with a pile of used tires)- but none had the size we needed – so we hoped we didn’t blow another tire and kept driving.
We passed hundreds of these traditional farms where the family lives in a mud and thatch house and plow the fields with two oxen and a single-blade plow.
Ove the next few days I saw an amazing assortment of animals around this beautiful lake.
On our second morning two of us when for a run along a dirt road past mud and grass huts where all the little kids come out and yell “faranji faranji faranji” or “You You You You”. We pretty much had a parade as we ran through these tiny settlements. We finished that run in a torrential downpour where said road turned out to be a dry river bed, and very rapidly turned into a river.
Pretty amazing first 3 days in the country – and I felt so overwhelmed with hospitality as Aarron and Zide are friends of friends that we have only met a few times in France- and the people whose house I stayed at I met as I was brining my stuff in to stay the weekend.