Chips and Children
All of my senses are overly stimulated on the streets of Addis. I can feel the eyes on me wondering “ferengi?” or foreigner as they look at me. Some start talking to me in Amharic and I reply with the few words I have learned so far. Simeh mano? What is your name? “Shinto Bet?” Restroom? “Ameseganaloh” Thank you. Today I added “Cinteno?” how much? to my vocabulary.
I was walking down the street alone looking to practice my new vocab word when a kid started walking next to me. He asked me, “Are you Ethiopian? Where are you from?” I told him the US and his reply expressed all his love for America. 11 year old samson smiled with his eyes and was curious as any other kid his age would be. We walked and talked about school and I did what was done to me at that age. I quizzed him on addition and multiplication of course and he told me how to say random things I pointed to on the street. We walked past a bar full of men with glaring eyes, a group of older boys kicking a soccer ball around, a church full of people standing outside and praying before they enter, a few kissing the walls of the church, women sitting on the floor and selling fresh vegetables, all with the aroma of fried potato chips in the intensely polluted air.
We talked about Timket, one of the biggest holidays in Ethiopia. He told me how people spend the morning worshiping and then parade on the streets after.
After such a worthwhile and much needed talk on my end, he asked me for money. Mentioning America automatically means money in people's head I think. I bought some mangoes and offered him some, but he didn’t accept them. I wish our conversation didn’t have to end like that.
Time to sleep now.