Nov 24, 2004

10 Things I Learned In Ethiopia

1. There are 2 primary medications prescribed to help prevent/treat malaria, one can cause permanent psychosis while the other has the not-so-pleasant effect of making one supersensitive to sunlight.
2. Boiled river water from the Simian Mountains has a smoky, mesquite-like flavor. This is much less appetizing than it sounds.
3. Dust is not Ethiopian's primary cash crop.
4. Ras Dashan, Ethiopia's highest peak (4620 meters), is the third highest peak in Africa after Kilimanjaro (5900m) and Mt. Kenya (5200m).
5. Ethiopians eat their traditional "injera" based meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner*. Yes, this can get repetitive.
6. Mules carry much more weight than donkeys. It's not advisable to stand within one hind leg's distance behind either, especially when agitated.
7. 100 percent of Ethiopian women you meet out in the capital city are prostitutes. Note: I am aware of this not from personal experience but rather from guide and local wisdom.
8. Many children in the countryside have mohawk or protruding "tuft" styled haircuts. People believe that this way if the child dies God will have an easier time picking them up from heaven (see photos).
9. Westerners trek wearing about $500 worth of gear, native Ethiopians trek wearing about $1 worth of gear. See also Nepal, Tibet, ...
10. Khat is an evergreen shrub (Catha edulis) native to tropical East Africa, having dark green opposite leaves that are chewed fresh for their "stimulating" effects.

* Injera is the national food staple, serving as a bread base for every meal. Injera, made of the local wheat-like tef, looks like a thin pancake and tastes a little sour. Vegetables, meat, and various sauces are heaped on top of this pancake and eaten with the right hand using the injera as your "spoon." Injera is served at a communal tray at a Mesob (mushroom-shaped table). See photo HERE