Extra Treats in Ethiopia

Though visiting isolated tribal villages in Ethiopia is a unique experience (Hamar, Kara, and others), I also enjoyed hanging out in areas that are a little more developed.   Barbershops (just to look), local bars (not just to look), and local markets or eateries are always colorful, and even though I have visited quite of few of these places in my travels, I am always ready for new ones.

The images below are mostly from two areas: the weekly market at Chencha, about 35 km from ArbaMinch, and the daily fish market located on Lake Awasa (also called Awassa or Hawassa).

The Chencha market is held only on Thursdays and was quite busy when we showed up in the mid-afternoon. People mostly from the Dorze ethnic group were there to buy, sell or barter goods, and there were also many little shops to explore.   I was pleased to discover that it had everything I like to see.

After a quick stop at two very colorful barber shops, we spent a little time in a charming local bar that seemed to belong to an older lady who her granddaughter was helping. The older lady was happy to have us around. She and her few customers (it was still a bit early in the day for a cocktail) were eager to demonstrate their dance skills, which obviously none of us could imitate, much to her delight.

At the local eatery a few doors down, many young ladies were working in the kitchen, a few making “injera” bread, a large, spongy texture flatbread, a staple of Ethiopian cuisine. The textured walls, the smoke from the kitchen fire, and the steam from the warm bread made the place look dreamlike.

Lake Awasa is quite a beautiful site, a freshwater lake with mountains in the background. It is also laden with tilapia and catfish, which fishermen are busy catching all night. When we arrived at the fish market mid-morning, fishermen were gutting, scaling, and filleting their catch to have everything ready for the local customers. What created excitement, however, were the huge marabou storks that surrounded the fishermen hoping for (and some of them getting) a piece of fish deemed unsellable.

One can also enjoy the fresh fish right on the premises as several food stalls are ready to cook it in many different ways. Grilled fish and fish soup seemed the most popular at this time of the day. Here again, frail-looking bamboo walls and a lot of smoke from nearby grilles made some indoor stalls look beautiful, but breathing could be difficult. It is probably better to stay outside to enjoy your early morning fish (and maybe share it with the storks or an eager monkey)!

What a treat,


P.S. To see more of my images, follow me on Instagram at @franceleclerc



17 Responses

    1. Thanks Lisa. I agree, the kitchen was a blast. I could have stayed there all day.

  1. Another beautifully photographed and written post! The dreamlike images with the light filtering through steam and smoke are particularly captivating, France.

  2. So many terrific shots. You really captured the scene and the mood. The lady in the bar was loads of laughs and full of life. Ethiopia is so special.

  3. Well seen, photographer, and described – you are a master storyteller!

    All the best,


  4. Birds! You photographed birds!
    Light! You captured the light! Magical.
    Colors. Context. Personal spaces. Lives lived.

    1. Thanks Elise. Glad you like the light, that was the appeal. And not only did I photograph birds, but they were big birds!!!! Sorry for my late reply. I was photographing even bigger (heavier) birds, eagles in Mongolia (and a few people too). All the best, France

    1. Dear John, Very sorry for my delayed reply. I am just back from remote Mongolia where I did not have internet access. Thank you for your kind words on my images, I am glad you like them. Currently I use a Fuji XT-2. After years of using a Canon, I switched two years ago as a way to reduce my load. It was a bit of an adjustment but I am enjoying it now. Best, France

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