Friday, August 31, 2007

Last thoughts from Addis

Some final reflections on Ethiopia...

As an uncultured, gawking tourist doing really touristy things, I was struck by how the presentation of all this history was mixed with little bits of modernity. One example:

In this photo, you see an Ethiopian priest (most of Ethiopia is Christian, of the Coptic variety inherited from Egypt - or so my guidebook tells me) wearing sunglasses. Why? Well, because tourists love to take pictures of ancient crosses, and when the priest holds them up, the flash from the cameras hurts his eyes.

Another example:

In this scene, the guy on the left has written Bible verses - in old "Ge'ez" script, a precursor to Amharic - on a stretched-out piece of cured goat skin. This is in imitation of the handmade Bibles that Ethiopians used to use, but don't anymore. Presumably, this piece that he's making will end up in the hands of a tourist.

I'm not sure what my point is here, but it's strange to consider all the various butterfly-effect economic/social factors that may lead to a replica of an Ethiopian Bible page (made in the middle of a poverty-stricken village) being bought and then hung on a wall hanfway around the world.

So on the right of the picture: one kid, slightly taller than the rest, is leading the rest thru drills on the Amharic alphabet. Whenever any of them messes up, he takes this big stick-whip thing and gives the offender a hearty whack.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tej and Kitfo

For me, Ethiopia was all about the honey wine ("tej") and raw beef ("kitfo"). Yum. I'm sure I now have 1000's of parasitic worms winding their way thru my intestines, but it was worth it.

Two pics this time: the first one is of these jaw-droppingly attractive dancers at this great restaurant where I ate tons of the aforementioned kitfo. And also rather too much tej, with unfortunate consequences.

The 2nd pic is of a brand of biscuit in Addis. (Andrew this photo is for you. I bought another pack of these after eating the first one, and I'll mail it to you when I get home. They're surprisingly tasty.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

another travel blog! oh boy!

Dear Mr. Blog,

I know, I know. I've been neglecting you. Well, no more.

I could say that poor internet connections here in Africa were at fault, but the truth is that I've been lazy. Forgive me. From this moment on, you shall receive a constant stream of brief, witty anecdotes and stories, which I promise will be at least partially true.


PS. This is a guy in Zanzibar beating the crap out of a dead octopus. He's lifting it up and flinging it mightily towards the ground, bashing it with this giant stick, etc. (This is how people around here tenderize octopi prior to grilling them.)