Sodere and Nazareth
Posted by Cris on May 29, 2007
Thursday we found out that Monday was a holiday, the day the Derg fell. Amy and I decided to celebrate this by going to some hotsprings in Sodere, about 3 hours outside Addis. We got up early, went to La Gahar, the bus station, and found a bus all relatively quickly and without hassle. Its still surpising when things are easy- it seems too good to be true. After a couple of drowsy hours we were in Nazareth, a smaller though still bustling city. We caught another bus- a 12 seater toyota minibus that we managed to cram about 25 people into. Another half hour later and we unfolded ourselves into the heat of Sodere- we definately werent in the mountains anymore.
Sodere is really just a tiny village built around some hotsprings and a big resort. We spent our day in the resort swimming, hot-springing, and mostly people and monkey watching. There is more domestic tourism here than we saw in Senegal, so there were a ton of people there enjoying the water with their families and friends. The pool was pretty standard- two white bodies swimming in a sea of dark skin, Amy getting hit on in the deep end, monkeys trying to weasle food out of us. The real show was the hotsprings.
The actual hotsprings part is seperated into two public bath-like chambers, seperated by sex (except the babies). You descend into the steamy concrete, open-air room and there are four large pipes cascading hot hot water into the room. In my side, and I think it was similar in the girls’ side, the men were all lathered up and scrubbing for all they were worth. The hotsprings water is seen as being good for the skin, so I understand the guys standing under it as long as they could. The cheap soap that everyone was lathering on though… wouldnt it counteract the healing effects of the water? I suppose not, since everyone was as bubbly and white as snowmen. The water was hot too- I turned bright red, but for the first time I wasnt the only one. Even the Ethiopians were turning red, something I thought Id never see. It was simultaneously one of the more brotherly and homoerotic things Ive participated in: they were all laughing a joking, but they were all scrubbing eachother, in their underwear, in hot steamy cascading water, as well.
We spent the night in Nazareth, which was a nice town to walk around in. We garnered a little more attention that in Addis, but the people were stunned and thought it funny when we spoke to them in Amharic. I wowed some kids by playing soccer with them- people are for the most part surprised when a farenji can actually play a bit. While I was playing Amy started talking to a guy, and he turned out to be an Ethio-American citizen who lives in Portland! He gave us big hugs and we talked a lot- turns out he used to work as a translator for one of the refugee organizations Amy dealt a lot with in her last job at Catholic Charities. By the way, for those of you in PDX- he things Dalo’s Kitchen in NE is the best Ethiopian in town, followed by the place on Hawthorne.
The next morning we walke through the market and found a new type of bar- a milk bar. They had yogurt, milk and coffee drinks. It was full too, everyone having big glasses of yogurt with berbere mixed in. The milk was good: smoky flavored sorta like the camel milk we had, but not so salty.
It was really nice to get out of the city for a few days. Some other highlights of the trip:
A cave in the side of a hill full of baby goats sleeping in the shade. Where were their mothers?
A man trying to sell us a lime-sized baby tortoise.
An old dried crocodile, stuffed with straw and missing its head, that some boys wanted us to pay them 3 birr for showing us.
Seeing a herd of camels in the distance from the bus.
New picture of the trip are up as well.