As I mentioned before about a guide name Mola.He is a good guide and a professional one.As there are so many people in Ethiopia consider “tourist guide” is a very good job and make very good income.That’s why many people try to be a guide,but not all are official professional one.If you mind about official one ,you can ask to see their “guide certificate” that they usually carry them all the time.In Mola case,he seems to know that many faranji mind about a fake guide so he immediately declare himself and showed me the paper.As you can can see in the picture.I didn’t read much cuz it’s written in their language but still we can see some stamp from some official department.If you see the date …one thing to notice..the Ethiopian calendar is not the same as us.Their calendar also called Ge’ez calendar that based on Coptic calendar.The first day of the year between 1901 till 2099 will be September 11 (or 12 Sep.. depend on the leap year) And the number of Ethiopian year will be 7 years behind us.For example …I was in Ethiopia in November 2012 but in Ethiopia they ‘ll say it’s November 2005. And some date written in Mola paper ,if you see 12/09/03 ..it means “month 12 / date 09/year 2010”
So..not only the clock time that are different but also the year,so if anybody will do any serious business with them ,confirm well if they mean faranji ‘s time and year or theirs.
When we were staying at Ghyon Hotel, we were lucky to assist to the marriage of a young local couple. They decided to do the celebration at the hotel’s gardens so we took a seat, asked for a beer to toast for their happiness and took some pictures.
No traditional dresses, bride and groom plus customs had in general an occidental look. Women were dressed very elegant, men more casual some of them wearing jeans. Only music had an Ethiopian touch and people danced in a very particular way (shaking their shoulders a lot). I liked the way that the couple used to do the toast, a kind of pyramid done with some cups (main picture). I found it very original but maybe it is only because I tend to avoid marriages in general.
Well, not the exciting local custom tip that you expected. The toast for their happiness was not free either. We had to pay for the beers the following day :-(
Going to Ethiopia during the heavy rainy season (from June to September) means to have a shower almost everyday. When it rains, IT REALLY RAINS. In Bahir Dar usually it started raining by 7.00 -8.00 pm so it was never a problem for our day tours. But it was also in Bahir Dar where storm and rain were heavier (see the pictures), being the air incredibly humid with regard to other places that we visited. Just to give you an example, simple cotton underclothes took 3 days to dry inside the room. So when you leave the hotel, especially at dinner time, keep a light raincoat always with you, for sure you will need it!
This is a bit of a sad tip. Many of the lake Monasteries have fantastic murals that are easily over 1000 years old. The Church and Government just do not have the financial resources and skills available to restore these priceless artefacts. In some cases they do not even have the knowledge or ability to keep the steady creep of time from completely destroying these objects of art and worship. Worst still are some of the new bits of art or clumsy restoration with modern bright paints.
I actually took this photo here in Bahir Dar, so I better explain. In Ethiopia, holding your right elbow with your left hand as you shake some else’s hand is a great form of respect. Over time the left hand has mad its way forward and some times you will see the left hand as far forward as the right wrist. You will also sometimes see this as you are offered the bill in a restaurant if you have been very pleasant with the servers or they expect a good tip. If you are not seeing this, especially outside of Addis Ababa, you may want to review your manners. If you go to someone’s home for a meal, please do this. It really shows respect to your host(s). And take some Bunha! That’s coffee. It is THE gift to take!
After you have finished your meal you may, out of habit, place your napkin on your plate. Do not do it here! If there is any food left, the restaurant will give this to poor people after they close. If you put the napkin on it – they won’t. It is a really hard habit to break, but please remember to leave your napkin on the table when you finish.
During the visit to Azuwa Maryam monastery we attended a coffee ceremony in the nearby village. Though it was not a 100% touristic thing, they accepted a tip afterwards. But in fact the coffee ceremony is something that every ethiopian will do as welcome etiquette when they invite you to their houses.
It takes about 15 minutes, while they take the grains, roast them, make them powder, boil the water with the powder and serve it in little cups with sugar. You have to drink 2 of those little cups and comment loudly how delicious the coffee is.
On our way to Bahir Dar we had our lunchbreak at a stream, where this woman was washing her clothes.
Everywhere at the streams you see people gathering at midday and in the early afternoon, washing clothes, refreshing theirselves in the cold water or just sitting in the shade of a tree during the hottest time of the day.
During this lunchbreak also two dusty men came to the stream. They undressed theirselves and after a refreshing swim, they started to wash their pulled out shirts and pants. Their clothes dried very quickly in the burning sun during their siesta time.
On our way from Dejen to Bahir Dar we met a lot of kids, who liked to be photographed, preferably one by one, like this young girl. Looking at theirselves or their family & friends at the screen of the digital camera causes a lot of excitement and laughter.
The girl was wearing a green dress. It's the colour of hope. In northern Ethiopia you will see a lot of people in green clothes. So it's also a custom to wrap a present in green paper.
The girl is also wearing a cross and amulet around her neck and has a tattoo on her chin.
On our way from Dejen to Bahir Dar we met these friendly local people, walking along the road. The two men were wearing their tradiotnal dula and gabi.
The dula is the wooden staff and travelling companion of almost every Amharic man. The staff serves a variety of purposes, like to carry loads to the market, to lean on during the very long church services and for defending oneself, against unfriendly dogs for example.
The gabi is a coloured thicker cloth or toga than the regular shamma (the white light cotton cloth, you see everywhere in Ethiopia) The gabi is worn by men. Spun around the left arm, it is a shield, while he is fighting with the dula in the right hand.
On our way from Bahir Dar to the Blue Nile Falls we saw a lot of small huts along the road, far outside the town.
Our guide explained us, that here, nearly in the middle of nowhere, the students live and study, getting their education to become a priest in the near future.
At Lake Tana, but also at other places in Ethiopia, you can see the use of the traditional papyrus boats, the so-called tankwas.
In Weyto village, 2 KM west of Bahir Dar beyond the Ghion Hotel, the people are still making these tankwa boats of papyrus at the same way, they are allready made for centuries.
Allthough these boats of paper don't look that strong, they can take huge loads, some passengers and even cows.
The injera, thin Etiopian pancakes, are made of tef. Tef is an Ethiopian indigenous grass cultivated as a cereal grain.
At the market of Bahir Dar Roberto showed me the many sacks, filled with tef and how you can discover the different qualities. The whiter the tef, the higher the quality and the price.
The injera is served at a communal tray on a mesob. The mesob is a colourful mushroom-shaped table, made like a basket.
The taste of the injera can be a little sour. To eat, you tear off a piece of the injera and wrap it around the food served with it, like vegetables, meat and sauces.
At the market of Bahir Dar you have also a lot of local pottery.
I didn't wonder, that I saw a lot of coffee pots, in this land, which is the original home of coffee. It's peculiar Ethiopia is also the land, where coffee has another name, namely buna.
At one hand Ethiopia is very known because of its traditional coffee-ceremony, but at the other hand, as result of the Italian influence, you can order cappuccino and macchiato in nearly every town.
Except the coffee pots you can find also the big trays for the local injera. The injera is a thin pancake, served as base for every meal on a large communal tray.
Just arrived in Ethiopia a few days ago, the market in Bahir Dar was a good place, to learn about the Ethiopian customs.
I was happy to have Roberto, a schoolboy, with me this time for guiding and explaining. Most of the other times, I explore markets by myself.
Roberto showed me the place where they sell the attributes for the coffee ceremony, like the metal plates for roasting the coffee.
The coffee ceremony is an integral part of Ethiopian culture and etiquette. An invitation to attend a coffee-ceremony is a mark of hospitality, friendship and respect.