All this focus on the LA fires and natural disasters made me forget about the rest of the world for a minute. Luckily the Web exists and in an instant I reminded of the amazing world I cohabitate. An old friend recently returned from a vacation in Ethiopia. His descriptions of the land and people left me breathless.
- Seeing assault rifles everywhere. They are used, too, either on animals or people. Ethiopians pay about as much attention to them as we do cell phones.
- Observing the strength of family and community bonds. Ethiopians are to be envied unequivically for this. Such social ties are disappearing or no longer exist in America.
- The physical sensations of the country are amazing. The roads are an unending swirl of bumps, diesel fumes, dust, bugsÖ the entire country has a unique sticky-sweet smell. Some treacly combination of sweat, vegitation, excrement, and millenia of biota all living, feasting, and dying on top of eachother.
- Plastic bottles, pens, razor bladesÖ these are the currency of the southern tribes
- There is so much life in Ethiopia, animal and human, and the rural lifestyle means families have lots of children. Yet their is also a high mortality rate. ëMakes one wonder if life is valued less because of this. (Or, conversely, do we Americans overrate the value of life for the exact opposite reasons?)
- Favorite unexpected tidbit of knowledge: Ethiopians have developed a special handshake they use while eating (touch wrists instead of hands). This is because ethiopian cuisine is traditionally eaten with the right hand, but keeping your hands clean at other times is nearly impossible. You really donít want to touch someoneís hand and and then put something in your mouth!