Next Stop? The Horn of Africa!


March 29, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

My upcoming departure for the Horn of Africa reminds me of the dramatic events and the enduring personalities of the 1960's - especially Haile and Abebe.

Who among us can ever forget the sounds and images from late November, 1963: the gunshots in Dallas, the bloodied dress, Walter Cronkite's tears, the murder of the murderer (?), Chopin's music, a boy's salute to the flag covering the coffin of his father John Kennedy, the rider-less horse?

Do you remember the funeral procession - heads of state in a solemn march? Le Président de la République française, Charles de Gaulle at 6'5" (1.96 m) walking beside and towering over the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie at 5'1¾" (1.58 m).

De Gaulle died in his bed in 1970. But Selassie?

The opening sequence of the film "Marathon Man" features the archive footage of a graceful young athlete, on a summer evening in 1960, effortlessly running the 42km (26 mi) Olympic marathon, gliding past the Coliseum and along the darkened, torch lit avenues of Rome, sprinting toward the finish line at the Arch of Constantine. Abebe Bikile became the first black African to win a gold medal at an Olympics event. {C}


Eastern Ethiopia Part 2: Mountains, Markets, Meals

                               Part 2.  Harar - Mountains, Markets and Meals

In the mountains east of Hara, my craving for oddities of geology is satisfied.  The Babille Valley is indicated on the map of Ethiopia as the Valley of Marvels.  The “marvels” are tall rock formations that the elements have sculpted into mind-blowing shapes. 

Eastern Ethiopia Part 1 - Hyenas and Khat

May 1, 2010


Eastern Ethiopia

                                     Part 1.        Chat and Harar Hyenas

Dear Friends,

Have you ever wanted to feed a hyena?  Hold up a hunk of raw meat on a short stick so the hyena can snatch the food?  How about clenching a piece of meat in your teeth and letting the hyena grab it?

North Ethiopia: Coffee and the Coffee Ceremony

A Tall Story

Once upon a time, in the golden mountains of Ethiopia, there lived a goat-herd by the name of Kaldi.

Every day, Kaldi left his wife and children and led his beloved goats up the mountainside so that they would eat and grow strong and provide milk for his family.

One day, Kaldi noticed something peculiar.  His goats were chewing on red berries that they found high up on a bush.  The kids tasted the berries but promptly spat them out.  The nanny goats and the billy goats enjoyed these red berries and Kaldi observed that they had more energy during the day. 

Each morning the goats raced up the mountainside to find more of these strange red berries.  It seemed to Kaldi that the goats preferred these berries to any of the other normal food.  So Kaldi decided to taste the berries himself. 

And lo and behold!  Kaldi’s body also reacted with renewed energy and exhilaration.  

That night Kaldi told his wife about this unusual occurrence.  He asked her, “What can this be?  What does this mean?  Are the berries a gift from G-d or are they an enticement from the Devil? “ <--break->