Down Down in Hope-ia


As is not uncommon here, my plans have changed. Instead of going to Harar today, we will go to Bahir Dar, close to the Blue Nile Falls, the source of the Nile tomorrow morning until Sunday night.

Lucrezia went to buy the tickets since we need to fly to get there but Ethiopian Airway’s computer system was down. I then went after class and it was still down, but magically, just as I was about to leave, it came back on and we got our tickets for the weekend.

Things are quite down here sometimes. This morning the electricity was out for a few hours. It suddenly then came on just as the water decided to stop. But since electricity was back, I was able to teach class more or less as normal.

So below is one of my students, Mihret in a very popular student hangout for lunch. To her right is “Mama” of “Mama’s Bet” which means Mama’s place. There she makes all kinds of amazing stews, breads, and of course some traditional Ethiopian coffee served strong like espresso.



From the outside it looks like little more than a tiny one room tin shed with short stools and straw on the floor. After just about a week here I am now used to it and it feels actually quite cozy and homey inside. Mama is a cheerful and friendly lady with her little fires  and good cooking warming up the place. Her food is 1000 times better than what I ate my first day here in one of the fancier hotel restaurants that was more western style.  So the lesson here of course is not to judge a book by its cover.


Mezgebekal and Mihret having lunch after class

Well anyway, last night I was talking on the phone with Michael, Lukas, and Nico. Nico said in his little voice, “Mama. Are you in ‘Hope-ia?”

It was so endearing, I told some of the students about it today and they thought it was a great nickname for Ethiopia. It also sort of suits the tone of the work coming out of my class. Students have a lot of projects dealing with bringing about positive social change. I may have had a small influence there as that is what I always try to encourage students to do.


Read the next blog post in this series.