After a few days in Jimma it was onto the far south-west of the country to visit another volunteer. Martin is working on IT at the Tepi campus of Mizan-Tepi University, one of the many new universities the country is setting up across the country right now. In fact, the Tepi campus is still pretty much a building site, with about 20% of the buildings completed, but with many thousands of students already studying there.
Tepi itself is a small town, very green, surrounded by forests / jungle. It is also home to the second largest coffee plantation in the country and it is easy to see coffee growing wild and on farms around the town. The coffee tastes particularly good here, and on the way out of town customs officials come onto the buses to confiscate any supplies of coffee beans beyond the personal limit of 1 kg per person. The government strictly controls the coffee trade as it is worth so much to exporters, traders and growers. There are also mango, papaya and orange trees just about everywhere, a long way from the environment of Abi Adi. We climbed a hill to look over the surrounding countryside and there was nothing but trees to be seen.
In the centre of the town there is a long grassy field, maybe about 1.5 kilometres long and 200 metres wide. This is the airstrip, although it is rarely used these days. Martin says he has seen one small private plane land there since September, and the whole town came out to watch it land. The plane did a couple of low fly overs first, to try to clear the airstrip before attempting to land. On a normal day people just use the land as a park (a very rare thing in Ethiopia) and animals often graze on the grass. The ‘airport’ itself is a derelict tin shed at the far end of the field. After three days enjoying the laid-back small town atmosphere it was time to head back to Addis…