Someone asked me recently what making a living in rural Ethiopia is like. I don’t really know, but I know what I like.
I was in a remarkable little restaurant on one side or other of the Bale Mountains last month. It felt like pre-bubble, indeed pre famine, 19th century Ireland. I ordered bread and cabbage and it was superb washed down with sweet tea. Four dark smoky huts and one table outside for an al fresco option on a damp and chilly morning. Clientele? Gnarly mountain men with birr to burn and truck drivers who have just traversed the Bale mountains at over 4,000 metres.
Also came across an impressive young woman in the small town of Dolo Mena, further down the road. She runs the town’s top café – complete with wood fired bakery overseen by a shirtless and confident young baker. “What’s your name? What do you want?” He spoke to me with clear eyes and an open smile. The property is her father’s – a big trader in the town – but these businesses are her affair. The town itself is known for its evening milk market where women come to town to sell smoked milk in gourds. The gourds are smoked with the smoke of burning olive wood. This prevents mould, but it also gives your machiatto a unique taste.