Trip Start Sep 01, 2005
72Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
We exited downtown, creeped through the squalor and rolled into the arid plans of southern Ethiopia. We decided to stop in Awassa so that we could have a break from the long days of travel that lay behind and ahead of us. The large lake there was supposed to be nice
We exited the minibus and caught a taxi to a hotel on the edge of town. Erin asked the driver if he was from Awassa. He smiled broadly and pointed to his teeth, happily answering "yes, Awassa, yes." His few teeth, stained rich brown, looked like the inside of an old timers coffee thermos.
He pointed at them again and said "water."
Erin asked if the water in Awassa did that to his teeth.
With a proud smile he replied "yes, Awassa."
It magnified again the differences in culture and the way that we see the world around us. In Ethiopia, as with so many struggling places, there is no time for vanity. We saw men wearing dresses, detachable jacket hoods used for hats, shoes three sizes larger than feet. If you have clothes you are doing well. If you have shelter, you are dong well. If you have teeth, you are doing well. A man on a bus asked me "is it true that in your country people try not to be fat?" Vanity is a luxury unknown to so many.
The protected nature around us created a sanctuary for many types of birds. Sitting on our porch the air was filled with their songs. It was like staying in an aviary. Faced with the route ahead of us, we decided to make our stay last a few days longer than we had planned. We took walks through the park, drank macchiato on the veranda and listened to the birds in the mornings.
On our final night in Awassa we ordered the vegetarian "national" food platter. Six types of spicy food all prepared with vegetables and served on top of ingera, the infamous fermented pancake that replaces utensils. Each portion had distinct, exotically spiced flavors which entertained our pallets. However, I woke the next morning in pain. That day we would begin our long journey south. That day I would fast... again. What I would have given for Kraft mac and cheese or Campbell's tomato soup.