Thursday, April 05, 2007

revisiting memories

(March 16, 2007: Addis Ababa.)

The first objective of the trip Ethiopia was to revisit old memories. As luck would have it, I booked a large portion of my trip before being able to make a connection with someone who knew of the old places where I might have found myself as a child in the late 50's.

No matter. In the time I had before the start of my historic tour and trekking expedition, Mr. Kassahun Alemu generously drove me around the mission's work in and around Addis, trying his best to recall places that might have been around all those years ago.

The one place that most definitely had memories for me was this place, where I can remember "cooking" a marvelous wat with another little ex-pat girl, who with her family was presumably also on holiday in the capital. Lacking red pepper, the other little girl declared that she often ground up soft red brick to provide our mud/water wat with the needed fiery note of berbere. Red brick was found, ground into powder and added to our wat. Just then her big daddy appeared and in his hearty American way asked what we were up to. The wat was offered to him to sample. He declared that it was very tasty with much smacking of lips. We were terribly pleased, no doubt giggling and giggling -- tee hee hee!

Another memory I have here is of the thrill provided by running down that hill in the background of the same photo above. While my Daddy often warned us to slow down, that we might fall, running as fast as we could, legs going so fast as to be on the edge of losing control, was enormous fun. As might be expected, the great big long hill of my childhood had somehow "shrunk" over the years...

The old house above was familiar, but not specifically so, in my memories. It is to the left of my "big hill" in the first photo above. Kassahun told me that Veslemay (one of the daughters of Dr. and Mrs. Hogganvik, who were in Debre Tabor when we lived there) used to live in that house before she too returned to Norway. There is also a publishing house right at the gate of the compound that has existed since the 'old days'.
The school building just out of sight to the left in the photo below has been added more recently. The property falls away down to a river and across the river is the German embassy. Note the tri-colour Ethiopian flag in the school yard! Those who've been to Jamaica might recognize the colours as favored by Rastafarians (more on that later).

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