Melkam Fasika – My final holiday in Ethiopia

Injera – spongy flatbread, shiro – chickpea stew, eggs, bread, popcorn, tej – honey wine, coke, and coffee. Followed an hour later by rice & tomatoes, potatoes, fresh salad, tomato bread (yes, this is real), a carrot cake-like substance, a beverage composed of barley & sugar, and coffee. Not your typical Easter meals. For Americans or Ethiopians.

Every Ethiopian I know spent the day gorging themselves on doro wat – a spicy chicken stew, now that fasting is over. But I don’t eat meat and everyone here knows that. Which is why I usually only celebrate holidays with my compound family – Ethiopians are very generous and any family I visited would make a feast of food just for me.

But since this Easter is my final “big” holiday in Ethiopia I accepted an additional invitation: my counterpart’s. I’ve spent the last two years working on projects large and small with Elsa, an English teacher at my main school Adare. So a mere hour after my giant meal with my compound family, I found myself once again sitting in front of a mountain of food made just for me.

Both families were kind enough to turn their TVs to CNN while I was with them, so our conversations surrounded the improbability of losing an entire plane, why 100,000 people thought it was necessary to visit the Vatican on Easter, and who’s in the wrong: Ukraine or Russia. Never a dull moment.

It’s weird to know that I’ll be leaving Ethiopia in less than four months. This place has been home for so long and there are so many people I’ll have to say good-bye to. It’s also exciting to think about the future holidays I’ll be able to spend with family and friends back home. This Easter I had to listen to a podcast I downloaded from my church. Maybe next year I’ll be able to sit and listen in person.

I’ve missed a lot of birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings, and Halloweens….but I’ve gotten to give friends here their first birthday and Christmas gifts (gift-giving is a new phenomena to many I’ve met here). I’ve watched friends kill animals large and small for celebrations. I’ve sat in a classroom of 30 kindergarteners handing out masks and reading Halloween stories. So for every event I’ve missed back home, I’ve had dozens of once-in-a-lifetime experiences here in Ethiopia.

Guess I’ll add Easter 2014 to the list : )

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