Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tea thyme

Winter is coming...

In the southern hemisphere, that is.  We are not south of the equator yet, but are already experiencing the seasonal shift.  Here in the Bale mountains of southern Ethiopia, it is getting colder.  The rainy season has just begun and some beautiful plants are blooming.

This thing is the Red-hot Poker and it is now one of my favorite flowers.  You cannot eat it but it is used as medicine.  I like how it stands out so strongly against the vivid green moss and grass.
And another local bloomer here is thyme.  When we asked for tea at the first rest stop on this two-night trek, they gave us water steeped with dried plant stalks, sweetened.  We had no idea what we were drinking but we knew it was amazing.  Then as we climbed higher in altitude to the African alpine forest, we saw the wild thyme growing everywhere, and recognized it as the tea we had been drinking.

We got here from Addis Ababa via a couple of minibuses to the small town of Dodola.  In Dodola, a shopkeeper befriended us and showed us a good place for lunch.  We had berberi, which turned out to be injerra with lots of tangy sauces, veggies, and cheese.  We ate it with our hands, except hose two bites that our host put directly into our mouths with his hand.  How could we refuse?  He said it was a sign of great friendship.  After, he took us on a walk to see some waterfalls, and Josh took the opportunity to have fun with some local kids.  He pulled his shirt tails over his head and acted like a leaping monster.  Needless to say, they loved it.

But like I said, we are not in the southern hemisphere yet.  I have never been there but will cross that frontier on Tuesday when we reach our next stop: Nairobi!

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