What a beautiful country, I have already decided I must come back. This is a country so rich in culture, food and drink, with quiet the history. Not to mention Ethiopians are some of the nicest people I have ever met! The generous hospitality I have experienced in this country is such that I will always cherish and never forget. Yesterday after I finished writing the blog, I journeyed (i.e. walked down the road) to Medhane Alem Cathedral. On my way to the Church a man began to walk with me and introduced me to himself, his name Fasil. He generously walked with me to the Cathedral and told me a bit about the history of the early church in Ethiopia. Once we were at Medhane Alem Cathedral, we parted ways. I began to walk around the church in awe… it felt so familiar because it was a house of worship but also like seeing a new car for the first time- my jaw dropped in fascination and wonder. I quickly noticed there were worshipers around the church praying and so I sat down to do the same. As I was praying, a hearse approached with a procession following it. Everyone in the viscidity of the church stood up and refrained from talking to one another, I am assuming as a sign of respect. I followed suit and began to watch the procession. It began with the priest greeting the pallbearers and them kissing the cross he held in his hand. The procession then continued on foot into the church, with a pause outside the sanctuary steps for everyone to take off their shoes, excluding the deceased for some reason… I am kidding of course. It was just a privilege to witness a very similar procession with some rather unique components. I eventually made my way back to the hotel and took the opportunity of having wifi to call my parents and Taylor over FaceTime Audio. Apparently the current government likes keeping people guessing and as such the wifi will periodical not work at all, throughout the country I am told. As such I have adopted the principle of taking the opportunity to use it when it’s there. I even had a beer because they are usually between 35 and 45 Birr, which translates to 1.15 – 1.50 USD approximately. What a savings, especially compared to our publicly funding bubbly wheat drinks back home.
Although this was around 6:00 PM, the day was only starting. It was later that evening that I met my new friend Paa Kwesi, or PK for short. Now you may be wondering, how on earth do I know someone in Addis. Well, I’ll tell ya. Through my job this summer at JFJ Hope Centre, who by the way is having a golf tournament in September so sign up!, I met Sabrina who was doing my job earlier that year for school. One day while I was anxiously taking care of babies with her, it came up that I was going to the University of Ghana in Accra and would be stopping for two days in Addis Ababa on my way. Much to my surprise she excitedly began to share of her experiences in Ghana, having gone to high school in Accra, and a particular friend of hers through that experience who now lived in Addis. She connected him to me and after he helped me find a hotel and told me all there is to know about Addis, we were eager to meet one another. I met PK that night and it was by far the most generous encounter I have had with an acquaintance. I have not known PK for long, but I already have the impression we will be life long friends.
Anyways, back to the story. PK met me after a full day of work at my hotel, the Monarch. We got to know each other over some beers and then we headed out to Yod Abyssinia Traditional Restaurant. An authentic Ethiopian experience, recommended to me by one of the stewards on my flight. I have to say, I have had some pretty cool experiences in my life, in some very cool places, and this is now one of them! To paint you a picture, we sat on low chairs around a circular table big enough for a tray, ate the best Ethiopian food I’ve had paired with some really nice local beer, while being a witness to some of the most culturally diverse music and dancing I have ever seen live. We laughed, we ate, we drank; truly a night on the town I never imagined having. Part of these cultural dances at these restaurants, is inviting those in the crowd to join on the stage. And after being invited, and wanting to respect this generous offer, I embarrassed myself in front of a crowd predominantly made up of Ethiopian natives. I have the video, but seeing that will cost you… haha, just kidding. When I have the opportunity I will be sure to post it somewhere. I only wish I remember what we ate, because if I am ever back in Ethiopia I am definitely coming back for seconds. PK the whole time, even though he had only been in Addis for six months, was primarily concerned with my experience and making sure I had a night to remember- for that I am forever grateful and hope to return the favour when he ventures to Canada in the future.
As I write this, I am being entertained at the hotel by live performers singing international hits like Despacito, Buffalo Soldier, Danza Kuduro, songs from The Lion King and many more, while having a mojito which I must say is delicious. Right now it is 10:52 PM local time and I fly out at 8:40 AM, but I still have so much to share. That being said, I will share my adventures from today in my next post. As always may God continue to bless you all and I am eternally grateful for all the prayers during this adventure of mine.