Salambo discovering Ethiopia
January is a festive month in Ethiopia, just like December traditionally is in Europe and other parts of the world. We arrived back in Addis on Christmas day, after a three-week break in Europe. In the Ethiopian calendar, Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January and the Epiphany, called Timkat in Amharic, on the 19th. It was strange to go back to a home that doesn’t feel like home yet. Having lived in different countries, we feel somewhat emotionally homeless. We no longer feel at home in the place where we grew up, the country we’ve just left is not home anymore because we stopped having a physical home there, and the new country of residence doesn’t yet feel like home. We’re floating in a kind of mental no man’s land, which can be emotionally unsettling at times.
However, to my great surprise, I was greeted with a coffee ceremony organised by our maid and babysitter, as a welcome back gesture. It made my return to Ethiopia smoother. The ceremony took place in the outside courtyard, where they had laid grass on the ground, and put a low table surrounded by stools to prepare for it. They wore a traditional Ethiopian dress to make the coffee, according to the tradition here. As I explained earlier, the green coffee beans are first roasted on a small charcoal fire, before being ground by hand and boiled in a specific coffee pot. They had brought their own coffee cups and pot, as well as the coffee beans. It was a very generous gesture, and I was extremely touched by it. I still have to get used to managing staff at home, which makes me feel like I am running a micro-enterprise, but that’s a different story! I am learning in the process. It takes time to understand a different culture, to grasp the subtleties of relationships. We need to spend a lot of time quietly observing and listening, and use our instinct to try to understand the unsaid.