South of Addis
By Feven Abiy
Due to a series of random events and last minute decisions, I had the opportunity to travel out of Addis Ababa twice in one week. Both trips required a drive southward on the expressway to cities in Oromia, the largest administrative region in Ethiopia. The first was to Adama, or Nazret, where Edom and I attended the 30th Annual Ethiopian Public Health Association Conference. We left early on a Monday morning with another coworker and traveled about an hour and a half before reaching the conference center. This year’s theme was “The Impact of Climate Change on Public Health: Ethiopia’s Challenge in the 21st Century”. The two-day conference was filled with panel discussions, poster exhibits, and breakout sessions all focused on answering the question of what Ethiopia can do to mitigate the public health challenges of climate change. It was an exciting conversation to be a part of.
Another highlight, however, was outside of conference grounds. A group of conference participants gathered for lunch at Yilma Sega Bet, or Yilma’s Meat House, in a central part of the city. The delicacy we were all eagerly awaiting was kurt, or raw meat, which is popular at Yilma. After a few bites of the cubed siga dipped in awaze, a mix of berbere and horseradish, Edom and I decided it would be best if we stuck to something less alive. Our tibs, a cooked dish somewhere between stir fry and stew, came out deliciously spicy. While in Adama, a much less hectic city than Addis, it was refreshing to sit in the outside breeze and watch local bajajs go up and down the street. After the required rounds of buna, or coffee, we loaded our car and headed to Addis.
Just a few days later, though, I was back on the expressway towards Debre Zeit, also known as Bishoftu. A 45 minute drive from Addis, there are close to 15 volcanic craters located throughout the town, but only 5 have been filled permanently with water. Because of this and its close proximity to Addis Ababa, Debre Zeit is a popular weekend destination. My family and I left mid-morning on a Sunday to celebrate my little cousin’s 7th birthday at a resort overlooking Kuriftu Lake. As a resort town, there are many activities to keep visitors busy and happy – one of my favorites was canoeing on Kuriftu Lake. The mosquito bites were surely worth the gorgeous view of Ethiopia’s natural scenery. While I have loved being in the heart of Addis Ababa, I also enjoyed the chance to step away from the noise and take a moment to refresh and recharge.
Both adventures outside of Addis have been wonderful experiences where I was able to take in more of Ethiopia. As I write this post, I’m seeing the first rainfall in the 8 weeks that I have been here and wishing for another spur of the moment trip.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship the organization and the leadership.