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 the shores of Lake Awasa (also called Awassa or Hawassa).
The Chencha market is held only on Thursdays and was quite busy when we showed up in 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 quite 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 was being helped by her granddaughter. 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 were able to imitate, much to her delight.
At the local eatery few doors down, many young ladies were working in the kitchen, a few of them making “injera” bread, a large, spongy in texture, a flatbread that is a staple of Ethiopian cuisine. The textured walls, the smoke from the kitchen fire, and the steam coming 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 there are a number of food stalls ready to cook it in many different ways. Grilled fish and fish soup seemed the most popular, at least at this time of the day. Here again, frail-looking bamboo walls and a lot of smoke from nearby grilles made some of the 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,
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