We went south of Addis the other day to visit the family of one of my traveling companions. We were not far from Meke, which is near Lake Langano (spelling could be totally off). The entire village, seemingly all family members, came out to see us. We sat in a small space, I guess you could call it a hut, and everyone came in to say hi. I sat and watched the traditional coffee ceremony. Incense is burned. A plate is set over coals and green, raw coffee beans are placed on top of the plate. The beans turn brown and black. The smell is incredible. Water is heated in a pot, also over coals. The person preparing the coffee, waves fans and watches as the water boils and the coffee beans darken...she puts it all together. The coffee is delicious.
We went to Lake Langano and I fell in love with Ethiopia. I have never seen such beautiful trees. The land is flat but surrounded by mountains. We were a group of five and we stayed in a lodge on a hillside facing the lake. We walked, played tennis, swam in the hot springs pool and rubbed lots of insect repellent on ourselves to protect us against the malaria ridden mosquitoes. Instead of ingera and a traditional Ethiopian meal, we ate pasta. My stomach was surprised but content.
The lodge we stayed in was on a compound of lodges, very rustic, yet comfortable and clean and very private. The air was cleaner than in Addis. The area was completely peaceful. There were wolves though, and on a walk Hannah and I noticed a sign that read: "Jungle at your own risk." We guessed that meant we were entering a jungle area (though the grass was flat and the trees relatively harmless looking) and could be jumped by anything. We thought we spied a monkey. I have a friend who was once attacked by a monkey (whose owner fed him beer) at a street festival in Brooklyn, so I walked away from the jungle.
Addis and even the southern region are at a higher altitude than I am used to. The air is thinner so exercise, not that I've been doing much of it, is harder. We played tennis and I saw stars...there were none in the sky. Walking up the hills took more energy.
There are so many more stories to tell. I am awed by the beauty and warmth of the people and the land. I could live here...maybe not the whole year, but it is a place to visit again and again. I am making a mental note to myself to report on my brush with bourgeoisie here at the opulent Sheraton hotel. I will also write about the museums I've seen, Lucy, the most intense massage ever, Fasika restaurant, Mask Bar, music in the clubs, Cornel West look-alike, construction in Ethiopia, and the art gallery I visited yesterday.