Change Yourself…Change The World.

T.I.A. (This Is Africa)
August 1, 2010, 10:52 am
Filed under: Ethiopia, Pictures Post

Dear friends,


I don’t even know how to describe this place. I feel that the past two days have been such a jumbled blur of sights and experiences, and I don’t know how to piece them together yet, or begin processing what they mean. What I can tell you is this: I am in Africa. Not the ‘Egypt’ Africa, which is still Africa but also part of the Middle East- this time, I feel that I am in REAL Africa, the Africa that I had always read about but never seen first-hand.

I don’t know quite how to describe this, but before coming here I had this ‘idea’ in my head of what Addis Ababa (the capital) would be: a bustling and sprawling city, swarming with people (who, for some reason, I imagined as Muslim), dusty high rises and swindlers on every street corner- sort of like Cairo, Egypt.

In actuality, Addis Ababa is the complete opposite. Yes, the city is sprawling, but it is GREEN, and there’s no real ‘city’ feel. It feels like a very large town. Some of the roads are paved, and some are a bumpy, muddy mess. Small shops give away to lanes upon lanes of tin houses, and there are ‘sections’ of the city where hordes of people sit on stoops, waiting to be hired as carpenters, or to peddle bananas and vegetables.

And the people- older women dressed in all white grasp arms as they hobble across the street, younger women decked out in vivacious skirts and pumps pause alluringly for a bus, middle-aged men shepherd donkeys overloaded with bales of hay down the highway, little boys in flip flops and torn pants giggle together at some secret joke in the muddy sidewalks. ‘Addis’ (as the locals call it), is definitely not what I expected, now I feel I am REALLY in Africa!

My ‘homestay family’ (as they are locals, and I am staying at their house, I like to call them my homestay), are wonderful. Yoseph, Makdes, and their one-year-old son, Phinehas, are gracious and welcoming, and their housekeeper Birrtu cooks delicious food!

What I like the most so far is when Yoseph takes me along with him to see totally different areas of the city, and I stare out the window of his four wheeler, watching all of the different sights and people in them. On Friday he took me out to lunch at ‘Yod Abysinia Cultural Restaurant,’ which serves traditional Ethiopian food. We ordered the maheberwe for lunch, which is the national Ethiopian food dish- a large family-style platter with injera (a staple food in Ethiopia, a kind of spongy bread) heaped with all kinds of different sauces to try. My favorites were dorw wote (a red sauce with chicken and boiled egg) and kay wote (brown sauce with beef). Yoseph is a huge fan of kitfo, which is raw beef and apparently a delicacy in Ethiopia. I boldly tried it- pretty delicious, but I decided one bite would suffice. To drink I had the famous tej, which is a delicious honey wine. The wine is WAY stronger here than in the United States! I couldn’t drink even half my glass.

And since I’m living with a local family, I’m starting to pick up little phrases in Amharic (the local language). I think I’ve found the most difficult ‘thank you’ so far in all the languages I’ve learned- Amasehganalo– what a mouthful. I still mess it up. You may also be interested to know that the calendar in Ethiopia is totally different, and today is July 25th, 2002! Also, instead of 10:45 PM, it is 4:45 PM (hour ‘1’ starts at sunrise, 7 AM).

Yesterday Yoseph and Makdes celebrated Phinehas’s first birthday, and they had a big party at their house with all of their relatives and friends. At first I felt a little out of place with all of their relatives who refused to let me help or cook and only spoke Amharic, and I retreated to my room for a bit- but after the party really started going, people started talking to me in English, and I showed some of the kids Star Wars I on my computer, which was a big hit. The food was fantastic, (I’m liking injera more and more every day) and Yoseph got a kegger of St. Georges draft, which is some of the best beer I’ve tasted.

So that’s my first impressions of Ethiopia! It may take awhile for me to post again- internet is really sparse here, even in the capital. Tomorrow Yoseph and I are going out on a three day trek to the south of Ethiopia, and I don’t have high hopes that it will be better. But while I can, here are some pictures!

The outside of Yoseph’s house, which connects to four other houses.

Yoseph’s house

This is tej wine, which they pour into a special cup to drink from (I bought two of these to bring home).

Maheberwe, the Ethiopian national food dish. Delicious.

Traditional Ethiopian furniture.

The Yod Abysinia Cultural Restaurant in Addis Ababa

Outside Yoseph’s house

Our venture out to get meat to make kitfo for Phinehas’s birthday (kitfo is ground raw beef, an Ethiopian delicacy).

At the butcher. Here is our beef, ready to be cut and ground.

A butcher (he kind of looks like a doctor with the lab coat, doesn’t he?) severing the beef

Wandering a bit around Addis.

Lots of adorable stray dogs everywhere

The butcher putting the cut up meat into sacks to be ground.

Refuse. Yummy.

More of Addis Ababa.

This is Yoseph, and his dog, Kanga roo (they named her ‘Kanga roo’ because she jumps for her food).

Outside Yoseph’s home

Phinehas, Yoseph’s one year old son! He is always laughing.

Yoseph’s mother prepares kitfo for the birthday feast

Yoseph and his prized possession, his 4 wheeler

Downtown Addis Ababa

This is the center of the city

Another area of Addis, near Yoseph’s home

These kids love having their pictures taken. They ran up to me yelling ‘PHOTO! PHOTO!’

Remember that sack of meat hanging on a hook? This is the final result- kitfo!

Phinehas with his mother, Makdes

Some of the feast during Phinehas’s first birthday celebration

This bread is MASSIVE! And delicious.

Phinehas celebrating his birthday

Yoseph helping Phinehas cut the cake

Something’s going on here…

Uh oh

Makdes and Yoseph with their newly turned 1 year old son, Phinehas! Thanks for being such gracious hosts and for the amazing feast!

There’s my little ‘snapshot’ of Ethiopia. I hope you enjoyed. More to come!

Much love,


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

nice post. Welcome to addis, hope you’ll enjoy your stay.

Comment by ethiopian

Thank you. More coming!

Comment by brittanygoesglobal

So glad you shared! Loved all the pictures!!

Comment by Sydne

This is amazing a phinihas found this.
Thankyou for all

Comment by Yoseph

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