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->

Eastern Ethiopia - 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?

Well, that particular activity is the choice of the “Hyena Man of Harar.”

Eastern Ethiopia - Mountains, Markets, Meals


Harar - Mountains, Markets and Meals

In the mountains east of Hara, I satisfy my craving for oddities of geology.  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. 

In Harar I wander through the ancient city to find homes with pastel walls.  At the gates to the walled city I find chaotic markets.

Meals?  Here is the blurb for the Fresh Touch Restaurant in Harar:

“Reasonable prices, a tasty selection of national and international dishes, a leafy courtyard, and a dedicated pizza oven.  The cold drinks are cold and the bittersweet aroma of roasting coffee wafting from the garden stove had us salivating like a hyena.”*

I order a national dish - the spicy goat stew.  I can’t remember when I have had a better goat stew.  So I return for luncheon the next day.

Ethiopia: Portraits

"Ferengi, foto!  Ferengi foto!" 
I hear this cry from the children everywhere as I travel in Ethiopia.  "Ferengi, foto!"   This importuning is easy for me to decode, since even in Thailand, the word for "foreigner" is "ferang"!
The kids want me to take their photo.  And if I give them a small gift for their trouble, so much the better.