Friday, March 4, 2011

Ethiopia: Gabriel Square, Awassa, Day 5, Friday

It is late afternoon. I am at Gabriel Square. From my viewpoint: St. Gabriel Church; I hear the Ethiopian Orthodox prayer chant over the loudspeaker. I see in the adjacent field some people sitting; some boys playing football (soccer). Another song emanates from a storefront. There is a giant billboard with an affluent, beautiful Ethiopian woman selling Pepsi. Almost below it, there is a kiosk in the form of a huge Coke bottle.

St. Gabriel church. Photo credit: Skibriye

Behind the kiosk is an arrangement of tables and chairs. The blue bajaj zip around the roundabout and spin off onto the feeder roads. Storefronts: "Nile Furniture." "Genet Stationery." "Abenezen General Trading." "Nile Insurance Branch."

A woman, small baby on her back, speaks vociferously to all passers-by, she hearing voices that we cannot. I look at her, wondering about that baby, wanting to know if she is able to care for that child. I wonder why this child's need is more compelling than any other's here.

Photo credit: "Hawassa" at skyscrapercity
I drink coffee at the al fresco "cafe" behind the Coke-bottle kiosk. The coffee entrepreneur washes the cups in a basin of water that I'd have preferred not to notice, then rinses same from a pitcher of water. Regardless, the coffee tastes fine, especially with an enhancement new to me, the insertion of a green herbal sprig of something close to mint.

I drink slowly, as I usually do, and the woman asks me, "buna metfo?" Just yesterday, I'd consulted my guidebook's meager dictionary, and I knew "metfo" meant bad. (Buna means coffee.) I reply in my Engmahric, "No, tiru." (No, it's good.) I follow, "Habesha drink buna (and I make a sucking noise and pantomime slamming a cup down a second later), but I drink slow." The people around me laugh. I assure the woman her coffee is "kone-joe" (beautiful or good or delicious).

When I finish my coffee, I resume my walk to my hotel.

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