Ethiopia Trip Blog: Day #9

January 21, Monday, 9:00PM Ethiopian Time

Busy, busy day! We got up early and went to Destiny school for half a day. It was really cool today hanging with the kids. Justin and I got to teach art and that was awesome. I felt a lot more at home teaching something I know a little about. Although it’s been years since I’ve sketched anything, the kids don’t know that. Ha! They were really loving today though. They are so happy to have guests in their classrooms and they gave us all kisses when the classes were over. Then we went into the courtyard and played some kid songs and everyone had a great time.

At lunch we met a great Ethiopian guy named Casahoon (I’m sure I mangled the spelling of his name). What a great story this guy had though. Once a basic slacker not taking any responsibility for his life, opened the Bible, and it changed his life. Now he’s got hope and is working toward a better future for himself and also teaching the Bible to his family. What a great testimony. I was especially impressed at how freely and openly this guy shared his faith. We Christians in America could learn a few things from him.

The funniest thing about Casahoon though is that he is really working on becoming fluent in English and for some reason he is fascinated by American slang. For some reason hearing an Ethiopian guy say “What’s up homies?”, is just freaking hilarious to me. So we taught him every bit of slang we could think of. I got a kick out of watching him pull out a little piece of paper that had American slang written all over it, and adding all of our sayings to it. It was great fun talking to him. At the end of lunch Casahoon proudly announced his newest phrase “Let’s roll out, yo!”, and we left.

We then went to Merkato. Merkato is the biggest outdoor market in all of Africa, and the second largest in the world. It’s made up of blocks and blocks of shops, some in buildings, some in tents, some just wherever the vendor found a few square feet of space on the sidewalk or in an alley. It’s truly amazing to see. You can pretty much buy anything you can think of at Merkato, from washing machines and TV’s to spices by the pound and everything in between. There’s even a huge black market for used stuff, so I would see guys with nothing but used power strips, or dismantled radios and TV’s. So if you needed a belt for a tape deck, or spare capacitor and you needed it cheap, this is where you’d come. Amazing.

Of course as soon as the vendors see white folks, dollar signs flash in their eyes and so they do everything they can to get you into their shop. Sometimes they’ll even hand you an item and not let you put it down! So you’re kind of on the hook until you convince the guy you’re not going to buy it or you relent and hand over the cash. I watched Paul haggling with a really animated shop owner over some African trinket and it was hilarious. The guy refused to let Paul give the item back and kept pushing Paul to name a price. So Paul would throw out some ridiculously low price and the guy would grab his head and say “Aieee!!!”. Then he would come down on the price a little bit and the haggling round would begin anew. It was awesome. I learned quickly to keep my hands in my pockets and not make too much eye contact, because I had no intention of buying a bunch of stuff this day and honestly, I’m not much for haggling.

So after Merkato we went and had dinner at an American couple’s house. Always nice to have American style food again.