The city of Awassa in southern Ethiopia is known for its lake that is surrounded by mountains and trees. Luckily, our hotel, the Haile Resort Awassa, was right next to the water. So it was the perfect way to get a last breath of fresh air before heading back to Addis Ababa after three weeks of traveling around Ethiopia.
BOATING SAFARI IN AFRICA
Lakes in Ethiopia are always opportunities for enjoyable boat rides with a safari aspect – and this last one had a few extra surprises. For one thing it was a paradise for bird watchers. So we were able to pursue our passion for bird watching, which really began on our visit to South Africa a few months back.
We even got to see a couple of fish eagles diving in for their prey. Meanwhile, boat safaris on Lake Awassa are not limited only to two-legged creatures. Hippos also roam these waters, and several came up to close enough for good photos.
THE BEST SPICES IN ETHIOPIA
We ended our three-day stay in Awassa with a visit to the famous fish market at the edge of the city. Here, many vendors hawked fish by the water. There were also others who set up stalls offering fish stew and chili spices by the entrance.
At one spice stall, set up under a large tree, about a dozen customers waited impatiently for their spices. The vendor ground each batch and mixed it with assorted pastes from about five plastic buckets. I was so intrigued.
“Are these spices really good?” I asked one man in line. He replied: “These are the best in Ethiopia. I’m from Addis Ababa. I come here to buy a pail of spices each time I’m here, just before flying out.”
“One of the stalls here is really famous,” our guide told us. He led us to a wooden stall that was still closed.
Pointing to this, he said: “This stall sells fish stew. People even come from Addis Ababa just to eat it. The old man who runs this place has been making the stew for years based on a secret recipe. It’s so good and reportedly so healthy that everyone here now calls him The Doctor.”
That definitely sounded like the perfect lunch to us. So we hung around the market for an hour eagerly waiting for his stall to open. Unfortunately, The Doctor had not yet arrived by 11 AM and we had a flight back to Addis Ababa to catch, so we have to try that fish stew next time instead.
HAPPINESS OF ETHIOPIANS
I love traveling because it allows me to observe the life of a place. It’s very interesting to watch people in their routines and to observe new environments.
Also, taking a roadtrip is my idea of a perfect escape so I had three weeks of bliss. On this journey around Ethiopia, we were impressed by the sights we saw and the things we experienced. But most of all, I was struck by the happiness of the people.
In the remote areas, many walked long distances with the heat of the sun pressing down on them. These are not easy conditions at all. But such conditions never deterred any of them from smiling at us when we passed by.
Meanwhile, we found small street cafes everywhere. Many were far from glamorous. In fact, they were small, dark and messy. But inside most of these, people were happily drinking coffee while sitting on tiny plastic chairs.
Happiness seems to be in the DNA of Ethiopiansz. Our guide in Addis Ababa himself explained: “I need to dance and sing; then I’m happy”. And judging by the warmth of the people, there is a lot of dancing and singing in their hearts.