Meeting Friends

Trip Start Jun 17, 2008
Trip End Jul 05, 2008

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Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Upon returning to the hotel in the evening, we decided to go for a little walk.  This is the first hotel we have stayed at that hasn't been perched up on to of a hill, so it was easily accessible and seemed to be on the edge of town.  Also, being a smaller town (only about 1700 residents) it felt very safe to us.  We knew we weren't going to get mobbed if we went outside.

Along the road there were some children who came out to walk with us.  Grant offered them some gum. Soon the mother came out and he offered some to her as well.  She invited us in for coffee, but we declined.  We've had several of these offers before, but are still unsure as to what to expect.  Is it a potential scam?  Can we trust them?  I know, I'm so North American...

We continued walking and playing with the children.  They especially liked when we took their photos and we could show it to them on the screen.  Wandering further we met a man on the street who asked us where we were from.  This was very common in this little town, but we were amazed after we said 'Canada' that the children started to shout 'Toronto' and 'Ottawa'.  I was amazed at the level of education!  This man apparently has a brother who is living in Canada.  He to wanted to welcome us to Ethiopia and have us to his home for coffee.  After much convincing (2 was just too much) we agreed to see his home and meet his family, but we really didn't need coffee. 

Being inside someone's home is something I don't think I will ever forget.  To my amazement, the woman who had invited us earlier was this man's wife!  There were many children present as well, but I think many were friends and neighbors. 

Being extremely hospitable, the man laid out goat skins for us to sit on while the mother stared to boil water for coffee.  She went inside to put on a headscarf (coffee ceremony) and washed some chipped cups for us to use.  While the coffee was brewing, one of the sons came home with the sheep which caused quite a commotion!  There is a little addition on their hut where the sheep sleep.  I've read that it's great for keeping heat in the house on cooler nights!

The coffee was very good!  Sweetened with sugar we felt bad consuming.  Even though we declined, she still mixed it in for us (there's no other way to drink coffee!).

As it was starting to get dark, we said that we needed to get back to our room.  Father and children walked us up the road holding hands.  And with an exchange of emails we said goodbye.  We have noticed before that Ethiopian people are very affectionate.  It is not unusual to see 2 men walking holding hands or with their arms around each other.  If they feel affectionately towards you they show it physically!  It is customary to embrace one another upon greeting or parting - usually the double embrace perhaps with a kiss.  When saying goodbye to these new friends we received a triple embrace and kisses!  What a tender moment to be shown such hospitality, generosity, and affection from strangers we could barely speak with!

After returning to the hotel I had a great desire to do something for this family.  I thought of buying them a coffee ceremony set at the gift shop, but I didn't know how that would be received.  Speaking with Krista, she was also greatly touched by this family and wanted to do something as well.  After much discussion we thought that dinner would be a good idea. 

So down to the restaurant we tried to make our desires known:  traditional Ethiopian food for our friends down the road!  It took quite a bit of convincing, but eventually they conceded. 

We must have been quite a sight picking our way down the bumpy road led by Grant's tiny flashlight followed by the waitress holding trays and the maitre-d carrying water.  We hoped that we had the right entranceway...

Calling out to our new friends they gladly received our gifts.  With much hugging and kissing and chatting we made promises to see them again in the morning before we left for the day. 
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