We had a fun and interesting day today. Our team split into two groups. The group I was with went on the hike to a volcanic crater.
We took a 30 minute bus ride to the site but dropped off a few people that needed to go into town along the way. One of the gentlemen (Tsefish) we dropped off is one of two of our nurse translators. He is assisting Dr. Nate Farley and his wife Laura with our very, very busy dental practice at the hospital. Along the ride we started to ask each other about our families and of course out came the cell phones with pictures. He has a beautiful wife and young son that he is so proud of. I showed pictures of my two lovely daughters and son-in-law. But also had several pictures of my 3 dogs and 2 cats. This is where the conversation became interesting.
Putting things in perspective. Dogs do NOT live in the house and they are not given a name here. They are basically feral and are on their own to survive. So, as Tsefish scrolled through my pictures he stopped and saw a picture of my two Maltese and one Welsh Corgi laying on their backs on the couch on a blanket. He paused a bit and asked if they lived in the house and if that was a blanket they were laying on. I said ‘yes’. He just smiled and nodded. Someone of our group asked if they had names and I proudly said Monty, Marley, and Myah. Hhhmmmm…Tsefish was not so sure about all of this. As we continued to scroll through the pictures he noted that the Welsh Corgi didn’t really have legs but big ears and that the Maltese seemed furry and perhaps not quite equipped to survive in Ethiopia. We both laughed out loud as we recognized our subtle cultural differences as it relates to house pets. I’m sure he’ll tell this story a few times to his friends.
It was really stunning to see the beautiful green trees and grass on the interior sides of the crater surrounded by dry grass and dust upon the approach. As we peered over the edge we saw that it was partially filled with water. It’s an amazing natural creation from years and years ago. The volcanic rock still surrounds the surface area.
We walked about a quarter of the way around the rim and then took a hike up a steep slope so that we could descend into a cave. The cave was home to a man with two wives and six children. Literally they were living in the cave for many years and invited us to come in to sit with them. Several of us did just that and were quite fascinated by their sense of humor as translated by young student guides that we recruited from the house at Project Mercy. These young men guides were gracious and helpful as we made the trip.
There were many goats and cattle along our hike all busy carrying water and wood. They were friendly and didn’t seem particularly interested in us as we walked by. The herd care takers offered a greeting to us as we passed as we did in return. This is a friendly culture with welcoming arms to everyone. Along that line we will often hear shouts of ‘ferenge’ as our bus passes by. While not likely spelt correctly it means ‘white people’. It’s kind of a recognition that someone unique is here. This call usually gathers a fair number of children that follow us we travel. They are very curious. I think that is a good sign as we become more globally conscious. We all live on this earth together – it’s our journey to take and make it better for the next generations to come so that they might all understand each other and ultimately respect and care for one another over time.
On the way back we stopped in town (Butijera) for some fruit. The driver and I jumped out and bought pineapple, mangos, and papaya at one store and then went to another for bananas. Nice nourishment for all of us and the staff at Project Mercy tomorrow.
I always laugh when I am asked to stay just out of site while the guide or driver goes ahead to ask for prices. Once he gets a good price I show up and pay. Kind of avoids that need to bargain part of the deal due to my being a ferenge. Meanwhile while I’m waiting I just try to blend in. Ha Ha…pale pasty freckled skin and blond hair with only a handful of Amharic words in my vocabulary…high probability I’m not blending in.
We arrive back home to Project Mercy and ate lunch and then participated in a 2 hour coffee ceremony. During the ceremony you are confident that the freshly roasted coffee (you watch it being roasted) that was hand ground would be so strong that you could never drink it. However, it tastes as smooth and amazing! The tradition is that you drink 3 cups and if you sincerely compliment the brewer the ceremony ends. If you don’t feel the coffee meets expectations they will destroy the coffee brewing pot so that no bad batches can ever be made by it. They take their coffee very seriously. The ceremony is formal and considered to be a minor shock to them if you do not participate.
The other team went on a hike up the mountain – more stories to follow. Dr. Farley seems to be becoming a rock star in this area. Local people are stopping all of us obvious foreigners on walks to the hospital to see if they can possible just get a little time with the dentist. I think the Farley’s could stay for a year or two and perhaps deal with only 50% of the more critical cases that need immediate intervention. I don’t know…they might want to check their visa expiration dates just to be sure they really are leaving on the date they are expecting.
Thank you to all of you that are reading our blogs and sending your comments. We appreciate the connection to all of you. To my family and friends, I appreciate your kind comments and your interest in what we are all up to over here!! Take care and see you soon.