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Published: August 16th 2010
Fermented pancake type bread. Loaded with a variety of spicy meats. My stomach couldn't handle it so well...
Whirlwind exploration of Ethiopia, well, the Wondo Genet watershed region towards the south to be exact, with a few days of Addis Ababa and the Bale mountains thrown in. I was very confused when told that we would be going to Ethiopia for our summer tropical forestry course. Forests? in Ethiopia? I was pleasantly surprised. We visited working forests, sacred forests, public forests that are being cleared illegally for settlement and firewood, and community managed forests. The natural forests we visited were dominated by Juniper and Podocarpus - incredulous species if given the opportunity to grow. Unfortunately, the population pressure makes this quite an oddity.
As for wildlife, there were colobus monkeys, baboons, some other type of monkey that was all over the campus where we stayed, warthogs, horn-bills - these were the exciting ones. We heard hyenas, but never saw any. Then of course there are the numerous, yet not so wild animals, ox, goats, donkeys, horses. The animals littered the streets, for transportation (both of people and of goods), food, and well I guess some of them were just strays - the goats anyway. First impressions took me right to the end of my stay. My eyes were
Always with grass, incense, and a traditionally dressed woman who roasts the beans, then brews the coffee over charcoal heat.
constantly being overstimulated with something new to look at. Crazy eucalyptus pole scaffolding, kids driving donkey carts at break-neck speed, 3-legged goats hobbling down the street, amputees dragging themselves along the road on their elbows, women lining up outside a public tap to get their daily drinking water. I could go on forever...
There were visions of hope in the huge smiles borne by the many children's faces and those of devastation on others. Physical ailments were all too clearly visible and signs of hardship were everywhere you looked. The people were unconcerned with such problems of large scale deforestation, clearly, but were more concerned about getting back from the grain mill safely at night without getting attacked by rabies infested hyenas.
So, although I leave with some unpleasant memories of filthy eastern squat toilets (one in particular comes to mind, where the side boards were missing and the man squatting in the hole next to me could clearly see me...), incessant begging, sudden monsoon rains and a rather severe case of food poisoning. I take with me more pleasant ones of a beautiful resource of nature, smiles to light up the darkest of rooms, aromas of freshly
roasted coffee and incense, the closeness expressed by good friends and a feeling of spirit so thick it can be worn as a blanket and paraded around, expressing such pride in this beautiful African country.
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