A happy Ethiopian New Year (for most)
Mid-morning, Shola, Addis Ababa: I step outside, past fruit-stalls and games of table football, into a sea of livestock, bleating uproariously and churning the earth to mud.
Poor animals. Today, September 10, is both New Year’s Eve and Eid, and meat, a symbol of affluence and prosperity, is the only way to ring in the good times.
I’m celebrating at my friend Hayat’s house, so I squeeze onto one of Addis’ ubiquitous blue-and-white minibuses, full to bursting in the pelting rain. My neighbour, a man in a red jumper, strikes up a conversation.
Suddenly I notice the head protruding from the binliner on his lap. Delicate as a model, all clean, bright feathers and minute, baroque embellishments, a live chicken blinks at me.
‘At this time of year, we slaughter many sheep and chicken,’ the man smiles. ‘It’s the eve of his life too’.
At Hayat’s I get a taste of what he’ll become. Her mother beckons me to a feast of sweets, biscuits and orange squash, before bringing out the maincourse: kitfo, raw meat, tibs, chunks of lamb, and doro wat, spicy chicken stew – with spongey injera bread to scoop it all into parcels.
She watches my progress keenly, anxious I’m satisifed. ‘Ayezosh!’ she encourages, ‘bi!’ Hayat translates: ‘Feel free! Eat!’ And with food like this, it’s easy to oblige.
Later, nearing home, I watch sheep hides fly unceremoniously through the air to land – aim permitting – on the back of a white truck. A happy new year, for most.
This post has been entered into the Grantourismo HomeAway Holiday Rentals travel blogging competition http://grantourismotravels.com/2010/12/14/grantourismo-travel-blogging-competition-december/ www.homeaway.co.uk
****** EDIT: I won! I can’t believe it, there were so many great entries. Thank you so much Grantourismo and HomeAway. To any new readers – hi! I hope you like my blog, and stay tuned for some new posts throughout the week.
Also, if anyone has any recommendations for where to stay with my £500 holiday rental, much appreciated (current thought: paris 🙂 )