Traveling Side Show Attraction
Ethiopians tend to do things differently than much of the world. For instance time is not measured the same way here, 6am to us is 12am for them. This is because the sun comes up everyday all year long at the same time; the day begins at sun up not in the middle of the night. This means that you have to be cautious when setting meeting times with locals. In Ethiopia New Year’s celebrations are held in September, Christmas is January 7th and this year Easter will be celebrated on the 5th of May.
Easter is this weekend for all of us living here in Addis. The city is full of people preparing for the celebrations to come in just a day or so. For the last 7 weeks many of the people of Addis have been fasting. This doesn’t mean that they give up all food but they have been going with out any animal products. They have been vegan for 50 days! No meat, milk, butter, cheese or eggs. Many of the people also choose to give something else up as well. One embassy driver that I had the pleasure of riding with told me that he gave up beer as well as animal products for the fast. It’s Lent on steroids.
On the Saturday before Easter Sunday people will attend church in the evening. They will worship for many hours and at midnight they will head back to their homes. On Sunday there will be friends and family and feasting. What do Ethiopians who have not had meat in 50 days feast on? If you can afford it you will feast on Sheep. If you can’t afford it you will have chicken. In preparation for this city wide feast sheepherders have brought their sheep into the city. When I say brought what I mean is, walked their sheep into the city. There are live sheep (and chickens) for sale on every corner!! The sheep here are not those white fluffy things that we Americans think of as sheep. These sheep are meant for food. They don’t need pretty wooly coats that we humans can use as clothes. The sheep here look more like goats. The only way that I can tell the sheep and goats apart is to look at the tail. Tail up = goat. Tail down = sheep. I have literally seen a wave of sheep being herded from a side street onto a main road. There were so many of them that they were climbing on top of each other. I wish that I had had my camera when I saw the wave of sheep, sorry Dad; it was the wildest thing to see this huge flock of sheep washing out onto the road.
Because of the holiday the kids and the Hubs were off of work and school on Friday for Good Friday. Bumming around this house all day together was certainly going to cause some tension in the house. We have no car, no Internet, no bored games, no playing cards, no balls to kick around outside, no Wii, no satellite TV, all that we have for entertainment are the DVD’s that we brought in our luggage for Jacob, of those DVD’s there are only about 8 of them that he actually wants to watch. Four of the DVDs are Shrek movies and four are Winnie the Pooh movies. We have literally watched these movies hundreds of times! Try as we might we cannot entice Jake to watch anything else. Every member of our family can quote every Shrek movie start to finish. We decided that we needed to get out of the house.
The Hubs had gone out walking earlier in the week with our guard, Yitbarick, so he was a little bit familiar with our neighborhood and thought that he could direct us to a grocery store. We got the kids dressed, packed our rain coats (it looked a little cloudy) into a back pack, strapped Jake into our borrowed stroller and headed out into the streets of Addis Ababa. Immediately this fair skinned, baseball cap wearing, stroller-pushing troupe attracted a good amount of attention. People stared openly at us wondering why the heck we weren’t using one of the many taxis or where our driver was. Why are these Ferengies (Fur-en-jees) or foreigners walking the streets? We ignored the attention and acted like it was normal to see two live sheep being unloaded from the trunk of a taxi that they had been stuffed into, yummy Easter feast! We ignored the many honks and beeps that were sent in our direction, we waved our hands and said no to the beggar women who asked for a birr or two. I maneuvered the stroller like a pro over and around bumps and holes in the road. I realized that most of the honking was coming from taxis trying to give us a lift, we didn’t need a lift, we had this! We were totally fine! Although, the way that we were being stared at made me feel like our family was a circus sideshow! Be sure not to miss the American traveling sideshow!
We kept our eyes peeled for a grocery store to pick up a few essentials but we were not having much luck. We came to a place where the road ended, ok, not like dead ended, like there was a gaping hole in the road! HUGE, massive piece of road missing, the size of a dump truck….gone!!! I carefully pushed the stroller around the hole and onto the other side to one of the main roads in Addis called Bole road, pronounced, BOW-lay. Luckily, due to the holiday the traffic wasn’t too horrible but it had started to rain! We got our rain gear out of the backpack and suited up. As we were walking a truck with about 4 Ethiopian men started singing to us! I haven’t the foggiest idea what they were singing about but they were enjoying themselves and the sideshow that was our family of five! The rain started to come down harder, no grocery store in sight! I had been complaining to the Hubs for days that I wanted to go out to eat. So I thought that this was a perfect time to find a restaurant. I pointed out a few places as we muscled our way through the rain and around the bumps and craters and debris that resembled the aftermath of a bombing, in the road. Finally we came upon a really nice looking Indian place, I love Indian food! We decided that this was a great place to dry out.
I haven’t mentioned this yet but Brenden was walking around with eyes as large as saucers convinced that he was going to be killed or robbed. He was wary of eating out anywhere because “we were all sure to be poisoned” but we got him inside. The doorman helped us in, the stroller was covered in mud so we left it by the door and took a seat. What a great place! We ordered some lamb tandoori and chicken tikka masala and Fanta’s for the whole table. Brenden order mutton! It was awesome to eat some good food. I feel as though my food has been sub-par lately and frankly I’m tired of cooking everything! The grand total for this Indian feast was 500 birr or $30.00!!! That is an expensive meal for Ethiopia, but this would be less than a meal at Burger King back in the states!
The rain didn’t let up so at the end of the meal I had the Doorman get me a taxi (much to Brenden’s delight) and asked him to take us to the super market, it was hilarious to see the 5 of us squished in that little Fiat. We got a few things while the driver waited for us outside. I was able to find many of the items that I wanted to pick up. As we were driving home the taxi driver drove us on the wrong side of the median. It was only slightly terrifying to be driving against the on coming traffic in the middle of a rainstorm with the windows fogged up. The windows were fogged up because we had six people stuffed into a car that was so small I could stretch my arms out and wave at people on both sides of the street at the same time. Luckily we made it home in one piece! I paid the taxi driver 100 birr (6 bucks) and we headed inside.
The story is only mostly over, after we got back I had the Hubs walk to the corner market to pick up something that we couldn’t find at the grocery store, he took Brenden (against his better judgment) with him. On the way home a man asked him for some change. Most of the time when you say no the beggars they go away, not this guy. The beggar held on to his arm begging for some “cents”, and nuzzling his head like a cat on my husband’s sleeve! Finally he left and they made it back to the house. Brenden was thoroughly traumatized and says that he only wants to see Addis from the inside of the car from now on! This is just another of many first for our family here in Ethiopia.
Survival tips for travelling on foot in Addis
1) Always carry rain gear (thank you Hubs)
2) Know where the super market is
3) Be prepared to say no to beggars
4) Have a good sense of humor
Survival tips for surviving before your shipment arrives
1) Make sure to bring board and card games in your luggage
2) Be sure to pack grown up movies as well as kid movies
Note: As I mentioned before I don’t have the Internet in the house yet so I have very few pictures on the blog. I have taken pictures of our house and a few other things that I will eventually be posted on here. If there is anything that you would like to hear about please email me! Many of you have asked about care packages, if you would like to send care packages please email me for the mailing address.
I love to hear your comments! It helps me to feel more connected to the world outside of my little compound here in Addis, so keep the comments coming. I will be better at replying when I get my Internet up and working.
Until next time!
|This is actually a small flock of sheep.|
|These are donkeys just walking down the road!|