My son Kosta came to visit us in Ethiopia last week. It was his spring break – he’s a graduate student at University of Wisconsin – but unfortunately not ours. I think we managed to keep him entertained pretty well despite work/school time constraints. I took a couple of personal days to extend the first weekend and hired a driver to take the two of us on a road trip to eastern Ethiopia.
We stayed the first night in the city of Dire Dawa. This town’s main claim to fame (actually its reason for existence) is that it was the initial endpoint of a railway running from the port at Djibouti into Ethiopia. The railway was later extended to Addis but it was never profitable. It was abandoned for a while but just a few years ago the government repaired the tracks and started running a few cargo trains between Djibouti and Dire Dawa.
Right now Ethiopia is building a brand new railway that will connect Djibouti to Addis. The last portion, the Addis end, is still under construction, but on our trip we saw a train coming from Djibouti on the new tracks.
Dire Dawa used to have a significant Greek population. Our guide told us there are only two(!) Greeks left in the city, but they still operate a church and a school.
We also visited a market where the sellers are all women.
Then it was back into the vehicle and on to to Harar – photos tomorrow.
When I was a child living (briefly) in Jamaica, the women would hawk their wares in the early morning, passing through our neighborhood in Kingston with broad flat baskets balanced on their heads. I think they were selling mostly fresh fish caught at night on the open sea by their fishermen, though they may also have carried produce and flowers as well. The cool of dawn, well after the cock crow, was the time to buy right out in the road; you could hear them calling out their sales song as they came and went. Years later during a community production of “Oliver!” I was struck by the chorus of early morning sellers and realized that probably in Dickens’ time London had operated somewhat the same, perhaps with a central market but with sellers singing out their offers. I wish I had a recording of how those mornings sounded to me back then, from the first cock crows penetrating the ink black night, to the calls of those women in the gray light of dawn, Kingston circa 1961.
Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2015 09:42:46 +0000 To: email@example.com
What a great description – I can imagine this so well! Street sellers here in Addis sometimes sing out for buyers, especially the broom and mop men who walk through the streets selling cleaning supplies.