I visited the land of the Walias about two months ago. If you don’t know the land of the Walias, don’t feel too bad. I didn’t two months ago. I would have titled it the land of coffee before the trip but now we call it the land of the Walya.
Beyond trying to sound knowledgable, Ethipioa is the land of many other things. I didn’t know what Walyas were and you probably didn’t. Enough of the blab, Walyas are a rare specie of goats found only in Ethiopia. Yes, I was in Ethiopia and it was a worthy experience. I learn’t a lot of things about Walyas (enough of Walyas), Coffee, hand-woven Abesian dresses and Ethiopian wine.
Ethiopia is rich in culture and is the only African country which successfully isolated its culture (well, almost). They claim to be the only African country that was never colonized. Well, almost. They had a brief Italian job but were able to fight them off. That is story an Ethiopian can better tell you.
I arrived Ethiopia at night and got the hotel to pick me up. It was a smooth entry with minimal custom challenges. The people were quite friendly and thankfully speak the universal English to get by across borders. One thing I observed though is that transportation is quite expensive so you need to plan these trips.
My first observation was the weather was reasonably cold. I hear the hottest time of the year doesn’t exceed 28 degrees Celsius. The hotels mostly don’t have air conditioners. This is a huge blessing as I assume power consumption can easily scratch of air conditioning which is a huge burden on any power generation service.
I spent the first two days in a pricy hotel (heeee, I can’t remember the name right now). I remember the rest of the trip though. I realize the memories in a trip don’t have to be the expensive parts of it. I console myself here but I digress.
I met a cabbie named Tesfaye (means “Hope” in Amharic) who was kind enough to introduce me to a hotel which was about $15 a night. Actually a guest house called Abel Pension. That’s not pension as you know it in English. I think Pension is Amharic for guest house. It is not pronounced as it is in English. The s, i and o are pronounced as-is. Sounding more like pensiyon. For that price, I get very good internet and room service (tidy only). It is strategically located and any traveler to Ethiopia would be better served staying here. It is a 30 seconds walk from a restaurant I thought served you pretty good cuisine. It’s a minute (or two) from a couple of night clubs that don’t sleep. I literally mean they don’t sleep.
I notice the Ethiopians go clubbing all through the week. I mean all through Monday to Sunday. Beware, it is noisy inside and out on the streets. I think I need to tell you a bit about where Abel Pension is located. The area is called Chechnya. When you tell people you stay in Chechnya, the first reaction seems like “Are you crazy?” It’s either a myth or historical facts or a bit of both. I suspect a bit of both and optimistically tilt towards the myth argument. The legend goes like this. The area used to be dangerous with gangs and guns. I doubt it still is and I wonder how bad it was because this looks like a traveller bliss (Probably traveller like me). Due to this dangerous environment, it was named after Chechya. You know the Chechnya, part of the Soviet Union. That Chechnya. It was like a war zone they say. I believe this was an exaggeration. I assure you will be short-changing yourself as a tourist if you buy this story. For me, it was the best place to gain local knowledge and really for the price, I was willing to get shot.
I didn’t mention one thing. Chechnya also has a red-light district. For a tourists, you shouldn’t miss the sight. The experience is your choice. Hehehe. One thing is obvious about the Ethiopian ladies. They are preeetyyyy. Be careful though, they marry very early so your first question should really be “Are you married?” before you go on a wild goose chase.
I really would not brag much on visiting tourist sites. Remember I was there for a conference. I extended the stay to get a feel of the country. I would give myself a 5 out of 10 for that. It was not really a tourist visit so I console myself. I did visit some sites I would mention.
There is a museum next to the university. It was the palace of Haile Selassie which was donated to Ethiopia as a museum. Like the story of the Italian job, I can’t really tell you much about Haile Selassie the way an Ethiopian would. I can say he is loved, he was sent into exile, Jamaicans love him and believed he was the beacon of hope for Africa. This is loosely related to the fact that Ethiopians were never really colonized. You see what I mean? I already sound like I am confusing you. I really suggest an Ethiopian tells you this story. I will post some pictures here.
The Chiromeda market is also a market to visit. Chiromeda is the market you go to seek the creativity of Ethiopians. I made a great friend there. Her name is Malu and she played a big role in my experience. I could easily have titled this “Finding Mulu” but hey, the Walya wins again. I will tell you a bit about Mulu. I bought this nice piece of earthen ware from her. I loved the way she approached and the resoluteness in her marketing style. I regretted not even doing a video of her. I had to send someone to do me a video but he failed in the assignment and ended up with a few picture. When I visit again, Mulu will be a point of call.
I also visited Marketo briefly. It is claimed to be the biggest market in Africa. I am not sure about this though but it must be big enough to be bold about bragging. It is not a market in the sense you think of. Looks more like a large expanse of area with all the buildings being shops similar to Idumota in Lagos, Nigeria. I did not see any entry or exit point anyway. Who says markets need to have an entry and exit point anyway?
Coffee Coffee Everywhere
I should mention this if you don’t already know. Ethiopia is the land of coffee. I just like the black swan argument for Walyas. Walyas don’t describe Ethiopia on bit. There is coffee everywhere. If you live in Nigeria and you see how you can buy groundnuts everywhere. That’s how coffee is. You see coffee beans in every stall you visit. I am not sure how it should look, but I suspect raw coffee beans is lighter than deep brown as we see it. It is literally everywhere.
Anyway, let me end this post so I have something new for you. I am yet to post on my Rwanda experience. I am also yet to post my commercial opinion on these trips. Enjoy reading this and please comment.