Category Archives: Ethiopian Images

Tilling the Soil (or sand)

This is an exercise in contrasts.

In the first case, I met this young man a few weeks ago while walking in an area just west of Hadero. He was hand tilling this plot of land. It was hot. The soil had just had a good soaking with rain. His tools are all that you see. No shoes. Nothing else. Hard labor. And the rewards of his labor are barely enough to get by – – the season of hunger lingers during this time before harvest.

This next image is what’s happening today at our house. Our home backs up to a park. We have a sand volley ball court in our backyard – we call it our private sandbox and hope the cat isn’t pooping in it.   Mr. SillyPants has taken the initiative and is rotatilling  the plot so that the sand is nice and fresh for summer fun and especially for long hours of sandbox fun for Blueberry. The tiller belongs to our neighbor. The choice to maintain the sand lot is ours; the city doesn’t have maintenance in the budget and Mr. SillyPants is happy to donate time and a bit of labor to public park upkeep (oh there is a lot of garlic mustard that gets picked too in the wooded area behind us). Otherwise, the sand is packed and the weeds creep into the space. Recreational choice. Ours. We had lunch before the tilling commenced – and breakfast. And the fridge is stocked. Oh, plus no shortness of fresh, clean water.

This is a study in contrasts. You are witnessing where my mind is these days. (And yes, Blue is wearing ear plugs, as is SillyPants – – the musician/physician never works without them, and neither does his little side kick).


A Coffee Drying Center & Google Earth

Driving south from Hosanna, and taking just one right hand turn, you’ll be well on your way to Mudula, Ethiopia. It’s an astoundingly beautiful drive through rolling hillsides of fields of grain, enset, some maize, coffee, ginger, and some other crops.

Half way between the right hand turn and the first town,  Hadero, is a new coffee drying center. It’s a large center and just a few weeks ago community members were hard at work preparing the facility.

See if you can find it on Google Earth. The coordinates are below.

It looks like this coming off the Garmin –  N7 11.653 / E37 41.937

It looks like this typed/pinned into Google Earth – 7 11.653 N /  37  41.937 E

Ethiopia: Facts from my notebook

1. There are 57 types of acacia trees in Ethiopia. 7 are endemic.

I never tire of the acacia tree (hello blog header) – here is one in Wondo Genet

2. There are over 6000 types of plants in Ethiopia. About 600 are endemic.

Chat isn’t endemic to Ethiopia – but it’s everywhere in the Sidama region. After having watched the spectacular documentary, Black Gold, I understand why more and more coffee growers are adding chat to their cash crop efforts. In about every plot chat was mixed with coffee trees.

My Wondo Genet guide explained that these young men were herding animals and chewing chat. (It was obvious, but he was doing a good job of guiding).

And then they shared a bit of their ‘narcotic’ with me. I was unimpressed (meaning, I didn’t feel a thing – but I did hike an hour longer than I planned). 


Dereje, my guide (in blue t-shirt) was a very motivated young man. He had spent a year following tourists and to improve his English and to learn birding. He could bird by ear and by sight – no binoculars, no bird book. I can’t bird by ear to save my life. I really admired his effort. He was a terrific guide – gentle, kind, attentive (we didn’t have to cross any rivers, so I can’t comment on his strength), and hopeful about his future. He plans to continue improving his guiding skills. I admired how he walked the entire day in flip flops. He then carefully washed his feet in the hot and holy spring. Had I had a bit more time, and been a bit deeper into my ‘experience’, I would have joined the local people in the hot spring (if invited). I can imagine their reaction to my large, soft body. Their giggle over my gear was funny enough, but a hot and holy spring would have been just totally divine. I hope Dereje accomplishes his goals – and I look forward to meeting him again in the beautiful Wondo Genet! You bet I plan to go back and walk with him another time – this walk will include a hot and holy dip in the spring (I didn’t take pictures of the spring, there were many people in it and they declined my request to take pictures there – I respected that entirely and without hesitation).

3. 55 years ago over 43% of Ethiopia was forested. Now, only 3% of Ethiopia is forested.

Lake Langano was particularly dry and deforested – some of that is about the shifting ecosystem as you drive south, some of it is about land use/population/resource depletion in the areas just outside of Addis. (That, and an enormous number of flower plantations that are surely poisoning the groundwater and devastating the soil in the area).

A view from a Bohe tukul. You can see the farms everywhere.

Durgi – Zamaare

When the Mudula Mamas gathered in Durgi we were welcomed with this song. This song is sung when the community sees someone coming and is sung as a welcome song.  

Here is the translation of the Kembatissa song of welcome:

Let us sing.

Hano, acha-bachabe
Please, clap hands

Tieninu maghanita angaa
This is the work (hand) of God.

Yesusu Karichoa
Jesus is the Lord

Samhani ulhanie
In heaven and earth

Manaani gizaanie
Among people and animals

Mosson rehonie
In sickness and death

Yesusu karichuabe
Yes, Jesus is Lord.

mazimura = song
zaamaro : to sing
tien : this
anga : hand
Magahno : God
Yesusa : Jesus
Karicho : Lord
Samaha : Heaven
Ulha : earth
Mosso : sickness
Reho: death
manaa : people
Gizaa: animals

(translation by friend, advisor, and mapmaker, Desta)

Mudula; A Very Giving Tree

It is said that the fig tree that majestically sits in the middle of  Mudula Town is 600 years old. It must be true; the tree reaches in every direction, it’s arms holding up the past, present, and future generations of Mudula. It’s a glorious landmark that can be seen as you approach  – – an within which you find smiling faces of the community. And, it’s one place you need to ‘see’ in Mudula. And so, until you can see the tree for yourself, please soak up a little piece of it here.

Bohe Boys Show Their Moves

Blueberry was never far from my mind – and I could see him in the multitude of little boys who ran, wrestled, waved, yelled their greetings, and showed their stuff (literal and figurative) all along my Ethiopian route.  Here are two little Bohe boys, showing their moves. (Oh how I wish I had taken more video!).

Wordless Wednesday

Mudula Tree, 2011