Day 8

PictureToday is our rest day from clinic and home visits. We decided to wake half an hour later and divert our group devotions till this evening.

We awoke to another warm yet mildly breezy sunny day (praise God for the continuing great weather with everyone in good health) and anticipating a day of adventure.

Weineshet, our guesthouse manager, made us cheese omelets with banana bread. We are never hungry with Weineshet’s good cooking. Dinner is always ready for us when we arrive home at the end of each day.

PictureOur adventure on the bus started along with Gizaw and Tsegaye (SIM staff), Joseph our tour guide for the day, and Bezayehe our bus driver. We head southwest out of Addis along the Ring road that almost encircles the city. Chinese workers are completing this road. Quickly very knowledgeable Joseph is giving us a lesson of Ethiopian culture and religious history. We turn onto the Road to Gima, a destination of 350 km. where coffee is produced. We are not going that far.

PictureToday being Saturday is busy market day. As we pass market areas there are crowds of people with donkeys packing their goods, animals crossing the road, people waving, runners jogging, trucks are being unloaded.

Our first stop is an archeological site roughly 23 miles from Addis, the Museum of Melka Kunture. Here we see fossils from animals and tools displayed in huts and we walk to an excavation site. Carolyn, our dental hygienist, was especially thrilled to see fossils of hippopotamus teeth and a hippopotamus mandible. Posters lined the walls explaining geology and other excavation sites in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has several tribes of people and we are traveling in the area of the Oromo people. They believe long life is guaranteed if one crosses the road successfully before a car or bus in close range. We see many children try this as our bus moves along.

Our next stop is an EOC (Ethiopian Orthodox Church) Adadi Mariam Church. To our surprise the church is underground with what appears to be a moat around it and stone steps leading down to the entrance. The entire church was carved in 33 days by a king during the 12th century to have a church protected from Muslims. Here we learn more about the Christian Orthodox religion, are shown musical instruments used in their worship that include a cistrum, praying stick and a two-sided drum.

PictureOur furthest destination is the small town of Butjira. Here we have an Ethiopian lunch on an outdoor patio. We are refreshed with cold Ambo (mineral water) and Wooha (water). After our meal, it is makiata, buna and chai time. We look forward to this coffee time. With many of us charged up on caffeine, the bus riders become chatty and all are smiling with satisfaction.

As we head back toward Addis, we are now in the area of the Guraga people. We stop to visit a home (hut). This tribe or people build round huts out of poles with grass roofs. They use the leaves from false banana plants (a plant of many uses) to umbrella their hut during the rainy season. The family is smiling and happy to show us their hut, plants and well. Here we see an ox and cow sharing the family’s living space inside the hut. The protection of one’s animals is of high importance. Chong was able to pull up water from the deep well and splash some at us. A donkey cart was passing and Cindy took a short ride on what Gizaw joked to be the local taxi.

PictureAs we drive along we marvel at the beautiful landscape of hillsides with terraced farming, a farmer with manual plow pulled by two cows, the community spirit displayed in working together to build a home, people spreading hops along the roadside for drying. The air outside the city is clearer and sky bright blue. We are thankful for the freshness all around.

PictureOur final road trip stop is at 1000 yr. old grave markers. These are huge stones with different carvings to indicate male or female markers. As Joseph shows us, Ethiopians have greatly grown in height based on the size of these gravesites. The view from here is breathtaking with flat top acacia trees on the distant hillside. The local children have found us and bring out their wares. They overrun Andrew as he hands out stickers.

Tired from out day’s outing, we ride home listening to Ethiopian reggae music as well as American. Our bus driver takes pleasure in blaring the music at times to tame our singing or chatter.