Sunday, October 14, 2007

 One morning while we were in Addis Ababa Vernon decided to walk to Bambis Market and take Fetlework with him, an opportunity for the two of them to become better acquainted.
Fetlework pointed out a bottle of some kind of drink. Her newly acquired Dad inquired of two ladies if they speak English. They did, and assured Vernon the drink is very sweet and good. They also asked him about the little girl and he explained about adopting two deaf children. He thanked them for their help and they moved away.

Soon they turned and one of them declared: “You are coming to my house for coffee.”

Phone numbers were exchanged and it was agreed we would all go for coffee soon.

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When the appointed evening arrived our driver took us to a pre-arranged location, one of the ladies came in her car, and we followed her down streets around corners and down a very dark, bumpy alley. We turned into a parking compound and got out into the dark, scary lot.

We were lead across the alley to another compound, still in the dark, through a courtyard and thankfully, to the door of the house.

Inside and directly ahead were stairs and to the left was a room with sofas and chairs against the beige colored walls which were decorated with Ethiopian style religious art. On the floor beside the stairs lay long blades of aromatic grass upon which sat a little wooden platform. On top of the platform was a little hourglass shaped metal stove with charcoal burning inside. A small white table sat on the floor next to the stove and nearby was an ornate clay coffee pot with a long curved spout next to a brass incense burner.

Our hostess, Bayush Hana Woube, greeted us at the door. Her long, straight black hair reached below her shoulders and framed her delicate oval face. When she spoke her teeth flashed in the light. When her head turned her slightly protruding cheeks were highlighted.

Once Vernon, Rebecca, Fetlework, Yonatan, Larissa and I were seated conversation a female servant began roasting coffee beans in a shallow pan over the charcoal.

Her hair was wrapped in a dark scarf that had a pattern of yellow flowers. She wore a pink shirt. There were appeared to be burn scars across her mocha colored face under her eyes and across the bridge of her nose. Her ankle length skirt was nearly the color of her face and had alternating patterns of lighter and darker designs intermingled with leopard and tiger patterns randomly spaced. When she smiled her brilliant white teeth contrasted with the gold necklace around her neck. She had the typical Ethiopian heart shaped face as did the other ladies and appeared to be in her thirties but was probably younger.

As she worked, the pungent aroma of the roasting beans mingled with the fragrance of the incense and the smell of the burning charcoal.

When the roasting was complete the lady got up and went to the rear of the house. Soon a loud banging sound was heard. She was grinding the beans with a long handled mortar in a pestle. She continued in the coffee making process while we became better acquainted with our hostesses and food was served.

When the coffee preparation was complete she skillfully poured it by holding the curved spout about a foot above as the dark liquid streamed into each cup. The oldest daughter then delivered it to us beginning with the eldest person until all had been served.

We were served food Ethiopian style except for injera, which was replaced by sliced bread.

Near the end, before the fourth cup, popcorn, as is the tradition, was brought out.

I was seated next to Christina Gilmour, an Ethiopian woman whose husband is from England and works in Saudi Arabia while she stays in Addis with Ian, their young son. She supervises construction of the commercial development they are building near Bole Airport. She wore a white pull over shirt, gray slacks and was nearly full term with their second child. We enjoyed discussing construction and as it turned out she is quite knowledgeable about it.

While we were talking the electric power went out.

With much difficulty and apologies two candles were located, lit, and the party resumed. During the time the lights were off Larissa, my seventeen-year old granddaughter needed to use the bathroom. She was handed one of the candles and directed up the stairs. Shortly there was a scream. It seems for the toilet to function one needed to pour water into the tank. While she was performing that operation she dropped the candle into the tank and there she was, in a strange house, half way around the world, in the dark!

The teen-age daughter of Bayush took the remaining candle and went to her rescue while the rest of us sat in the dark. Soon we were all reunited.

The lights were off about an hour and a half, half the time we were there.

It was a magical time and too soon it was over.

With many hugs and hand-shakes we left and were soon on our way in the little blue and white cab.

The driver, much to my chagrin, left in the opposite direction from which we had arrived and I feared he was lost.

He was not.

Soon we were on the still under construction “ring road”, and much more quickly than our journey to the home we were safely back at the hotel.

Ain't God Good?

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