Jimma is the largest city in the south-west of the country. I was shown around by a couple of volunteers who work at the university and the teacher training college there. It seems Jimma’s biggest claim to fame (or more accurately that of the region itself) is that it is the “Home of Coffee”. Legend says that coffee was discovered in Ethiopia by a goatherder called Kaldi who noticed his goats becoming agitated after they munched on some coffee bushes.
Coming back into the southern part of the country it was nice to see how green everything was, with all sorts of different birds and animals around, such as a flock of vultures sitting in a tree or a family of black-and-white colobus monkeys watching people as they passed beneath their treetop home. As well as visiting the old palace of the former King of Jimma, an enjoyable day was spent exploring the town with Bec, a volunteer from Australia who also arrived in September; we chatted to some guys waiting for the sun to cool so they could play football, were invited to a typical family home and met the six children there, and visited a restaurant where the locals were eating raw meat – big fatty lumps of the stuff – but being sensible we just watched as they enjoyed what we learnt was a special treat.
Now we are back in Abi Adi and recently (Monday 28th February) was the start of a 55-day fasting period in Ethiopia. That means all meat, milk and eggs are off the menu until Easter Sunday. So recently there has been a lot of last minute meat eating, and raw meat is best of all, for the locals. This also meant that January and February were prime months for weddings. We have often seen cavalcades of cars parading around town, tooting horns and being filmed by a lead truck. This is the sign a wedding has just happened – I saw a few of these in Jimma for example. No-one wants to get married in the fasting period as no meat eating means no wedding feast. So now it is vegetarian food all the way to Easter!