Yoga Journal Pose of the Day

Sunday, December 14, 2008

diary, part 2

more excerpts from my diary:
16/11/08: Breakfast at Kaldi's, a Starbuck's knock-off, that serves breakfast, & fruitjuice. Had a large macchiatto. Awesome!
Drive across town -- I mean I forgot how large a city Addis is -- to my friend N's house interrupted by roads blocked for a ?bicycle race? so we took the ring road. My friend K tells me that Meles' gov't has stopped loans to many entrepreneurs and building has slowed to nearly a full stop. Buildings half built with no construction activity are pointed out to me. No activity for months. Still, everywhere I look, there seems to be a lot of construction going on -- more than I see in my part of the world, actually. I can't believe the dynamic energy I feel nearly verywhere in the city! Despite relatively difficult economic times, Addis has grown since my visit a year and a half ago, and continues to grow at a terrific pace. Construction methods are so different.
Mountains gorgeous. At traffic circle in my friend's neighborhood missed photo-op of a funny little troop of donkeys loaded with little "muffin tops" of dried hay, very like dwarf camels. B. sweet (he'd probably hate me saying that) very polite young man showed me around the neighborhood. My friend has many interesting plants in her garden, many used in traditional cooking and medicines.
enset, or false banana, used by many in Ethiopia to make a staple of their diet, "kotcho", something that is definitely an acquired taste
endod, Phytolacca dodecandra, or soapberry plant, an effective control of the fresh-water snails which host the parasite that causes bilharzia in humans
On tour of neighborhood, stopped at a traditional doctor's office -- unfortunately closed; stopped at lovely garden-cafe for coffee that is popular for weddings. Can see why, with cool outdoor space shaded by flowering trees (poinsettia tree-sized here in Africa) -- relief from sun, quite hot by now. At roundabout, climbed up to a diner on 3rd floor with a view of the neighborhood. A lively noisy spot, seems locally popular; we had fries and coke.

hot peppers drying in the sun, the most important ingredient in berbere, a blend of ground peppers and up to 16 other spices and herbs, a signature flavouring in Ethiopian cooking
Returned to my friend's to find her and a servant (I'm assuming?) sorting and cleaning the woody stems off dried peppers to make berbere. Ahhh! the odour is so familiar and comforting.
It is so relaxing to wander around my friend's garden, or just sit in the shade, listening to the noises of the neighborhood, observing birds flitting in and out of the trees, her dogs occasionally yawning, stretching, then settling back down to their mid-afternoon naps.

Dust a problem for my breathing and for the camera. Shutter starting to stick as it did back in '07.
Most people in the streets here ignored me politely, only a few calling out to me, here in the suburbs -- "ferengi" -- unlike the way they do in the middle of Addis. Still stick out like a sore thumb, very aware I can't blend in! Children the cutest things in the world. Very well-behaved, polite. And Walk! They walk a long, long way with their parents. Even the littlest ones -- up and down steep, rocky, rutted roads. Everybody walks.

I confess I'm a geek about using the toilet. Forget how to manage without the things I take for granted in Canada. Discover that tp is called "soft" here. I like that better than tp.

My friend's house is spacious, airy, cool even in the heat of midday, and very, very tidy. B. has a photo which he shows me of himself at about age 6 or 7 with the famous runner Haile Gebresellasie. HG visited his school when he was young. Television has like 2 stations. Occasionally I understand whole phrases of the news in Amharic, but it gets difficult when it switches to Oromo.
Sung evening prayers accompany our conversation after dark sets in. Moths are attracted through screen-less windows to the electric lights in the house.

Meal of injera, rice, doro wot and fried potatoes is absolutely delicious. I'm so hungry, but there is too much food even for me! Cannot explain how homey and cozy my friend's house is, how welcome I feel and how I enjoy the familiarity of the sounds and flavours -- even though I haven't lived in Ethiopia for nearly 50 years!
I forgot too, about the stray dogs and the homeless boys huddling together under the overpasses of the Ring Road near the airport at night to ward off the cold of Addis' nighttime temperatures.
This morning saw runners trotting along past Kaldi's. Sunday am is a popular day for athletics in Ethiopia.
Find hotel a little cold and lonely. Thought hotel and hot shower in the morning would be a good idea if driving north to Debre Tabor in the morning. However, K. (who has agreed to drive me to my old home in Debre Tabor) has business to take care of on Monday and cannot leave Addis until Tuesday. I would have enjoyed better staying at N and B's home out in the suburbs. Oh well. C'est la vie, n'est-ce pas?

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