Gareth and I spent a long Christmas weekend in Mekele, the nearest city to us yet a three and a half hour bus ride away from Abi Adi. We arrived on Thursday and settled in at Martin’s house (Martin being the VSO Volunteer in Mekele). On Friday we went to the supermarkets, stocked up on some nice food for Christmas and had pizza in the evening – a great treat!
On Christmas Day, Gareth and I spent the morning exploring Mekele market and then met Martin for lunch at the Abreha Castle Restaurant. There was a power cut in the city all day so the hoped-for chips were replaced with bread.
With another friend we then visited the Yohannis IV Museum, which is sited in a Palace that some Ethiopian emperors used to live in. We saw a bust of Mussolini but weren’t allowed to take any photos, unfortunately. Later, we visited a sandwich shop which seemed to sell normal sandwiches (beef, cheese, tuna) but with an added bonus – chocolate spread! I had chocolate and cheese – very bizarre but just about edible! The others braved a ham, cheese and chocolate one!! You can tell by the look on our faces that we were enjoying them.
In the evening we prepared four dishes – vegetable chilli, bombay potatoes, coleslaw and tuna pasta – which we took to share at a Christmas party being hosted by one of Martin’s friends, Jay from India. It was a nice evening and someone even brought a cake.
Boxing Day started with a brunch of ‘ful’, a spicy bean dish made with lots of garlic and mopped up with fresh bread – very addictive! We will have to search for this back in Abi Adi. We also got a chance to visit Mekele’s ‘cinema’ – really a conference hall with a screen – which show films twice a week. This week’s special feature was ‘Unstoppable’. Popcorn and soft drinks were available in the lobby and it was definitely the most western experience so far in Ethiopia.
Over the weekend, we also learnt to make Tegamino, a thick spicy paste that we ate with rice. Our first foray into preparing some traditional Ethiopian food and it turned out to be very tasty! We returned to Abi Adi on Tuesday and it was nice to get a warm welcome back from our colleagues after our Mekelle adventure – all in all a different but enjoyable Christmas experience.