Monday, December 12, 2011

Out and About

My sightseeing has been limited to Mekele as I haven't been able to join a day tour to the rock hewn churches in the area.  I'm hoping the young man at the tourism office can find me one, but in the meantime, I try to fill my time checking out the city.

Going to the market always gives me opportunities to take pictures.  There was one gentleman I would have loved to have shot, but when Gebrai asked him, he sternly said no.  I didn't have to understand Tigryna to understand "no".  As in many cases, I have to remember with my head instead of my camera.  In this case, the man was sharpening butcher knives on the street corner with a sharpener powered by a younger guy on a bicycle pedaling furiously. Quite a sight.


People often grill corn on the cob and sell them on the street corner.  Most of the time, it's at night, but on this visit to the market, I saw this woman whose palms of her hands were blackened by the charcoal.
Our landlord's wife had me over for a coffee ceremony and her young daughter proudly showed me one of the puppies that had been born a week earlier.

There was another celebration of Ethiopia's cities held in Mek'ele this week.  A huge ceremony with national entertainment as well as a speech from the Prime Minister was held at the stadium that was still under construction so I didn't go but saw it on the television.  When I saw the stadium packed, and having seen it still under construction 2 weeks ago - I got chills just thinking how a tragedy could happen if the stadium collapsed.

Gebrai, my bajaj driver, was keen to take me to see some of the venues through the city, but on that day, we had some errands to run for Roger so didn't see much.  However, while waiting for a take away lunch at a restaurant, these 3 women who had obviously taken part in the festivities came in and agreed to have their picture taken. 

Wednesday and Friday are fasting days for the Orthodox Christians, so Gebrai had a fasting meal.  It wasn't prepared for take away so he ate it while the rest of the lunches were prepared for us to take to Roger's warehouse. 
The platter is covered with injera which is a staple here.  To us, it tastes like a sour, wet dishcloth, but the bread is used to pick up the rest of the food on the platter.  Only the right hand is used (the left is deemed unsanitary).  On non-fasting days a stew would be on the injera - on fasting days, salad, lentils, peppers, rice, etc are prepared.
Gebrai had been helping me and Roger out a lot this week, and we had been generous with tips.  On Saturday, Gebrai came to the house with this "loaf" of bread, hot out of the oven.  This bread is bought in every tiny shop, but in 2 small triangles -- it was the first time I saw it as a whole.  To make toast, we split the triangles so the pieces aren't thick, and it's quite good although we'd sure like a bagel, or raisin bread, or..... It was an extremely kind gesture, and much appreciated.
Gebrai found out the palace museum was opened (although the palace itself is closed for renovations), so he took me.  I was told I couldn't take pictures (if there are guards with rifles, I don't push it) but the ticket was interesting. 

First of all, the date says March 28, 2004 as it is based on Ethiopia's calendar.  It cost 29 birr for our tickets (about $1.80), but Gebrai's was 5 birr and mine was 24 birr.  That would be faranji pricing.  The other interesting thing was they asked what religion I was.  Wonder what would have happened if I had put "Druid"?


The museum was really interesting and filled with artifacts from the 1800s as well as much older religious pieces that are several centuries old.

Roger went to  both job sites - to Shire in the north, and the Danakil in the east, and took a few pictures.

Local women selling fruit

A full service shoe shine and sock vendor!

Beautiful view on the way to Shire in the north

When Roger and I went to the Danakil to the jobsite in October, the workers were just starting the dining room.  Here, Roger's helper, Lewte, stands in the nearly completed building.

Some of the workers playing checkers with pop tops as the markers

Wide load -- that poor donkey!
Another week has passed, and we are getting anxious to get away for a week at Christmas.  We are going to Dubai -- the total opposite to Ethiopia -- and never a destination that we felt compelled to go to, but the thought of good food, some shopping and sightseeing in a place just 4 hours from Addis made it our choice of places to visit.  We're waiting for our visas to come through which is a surprise because Canada was placed on a list last January of countries that needed visas granted before arrival.  Apparently there is some political wrangling over landing rights for Emirates Airlines which has caused a rift between the 2 countries.

There are strings of Christmas lights throughout Mek'ele town centre but no other signs of Christmas are around.  I better make some shortbread this week!

“Dreams nourish the soul just as food nourishes the body. The pleasure of the search and of adventure feeds our dreams.”  Paulo Coelho

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