While we were in Soddo, we had the opportunity to go on a little “safari.” We spent the day exploring with our tour guide Hasabu.
Our first stop was Chencha. Chencha is a small village up in the mountains surrounding Soddo. Our guide told us it was about a 45 minute drive from the main road. Well….he must have meant “Ethiopian Time.” We started up the mountain over muddy roads that would be un-passable in anything other than a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. Our driver and Hasabu were in the front seats, so my family of 4 was tightly packed across the back bench seat. About 30 minutes into our drive, it started raining. And as soon as it started raining, our vehicle started leaking. The seal around the doors really wasn’t a seal at all. I would call it more of a strainer, letting only about half of the rain into the car. So my family of 4 scrunched into the middle of the bench seat, leaving the edges to the rain.
Then, about another 30 minutes later, my children decided they had to go to the bathroom. This would not be a problem at all if they weren’t so picky about having to use toilets. They held out as long as possible, but we finally made a pit stop in a tiny village and asked for the “shintabit.” The villagers were very happy to have visitors and pointed and smiled. We followed their directions around several huts, past the group of goats and next to the man cooking lunch. There we found the hole in the ground. Let me just say, there were a few tears as my children had to make the best of the situation. And also let me say, the villagers saw a lot of white skin that day.
We continued on our way and finally, after 3 hours of trekking through the wilderness, arrived at Chencha. It was amazing and worth every bit of that drive! The villagers all live in huts built out of false banana trees and mud. We got a tour of the largest hut in the village. We also got to see what Scott would look like with a full head of hair.
The villagers made us a loaf of their traditional bread and served it to us with honey. We got to see how they scrape the pulp from the inside of the false banana trees, bury it in the ground for 3 months to ferment it, and then turn it into a kind of dough they use for many purposes. After purchasing a purse for Hannah and a spear for Joel, we hit the road.
Our next stop was ArbaMinch. This is a kind of national park where you can go to see the wildlife – zebras, baboons, dikdiks, and most importantly – crocodiles and hippos. We loaded up into the boat and headed out onto a large lake. The scenery was breathtaking and the crocodiles were enormous. We found an area where there were at least 30 crocs sunning themselves and relaxing. We inched along the banks, much closer than I would have chosen to be if it were up to me.
And the hippos! They are considered the most dangerous animal in Africa. More people are killed by hippos than by any other animal here. As our boat drifted closer and closer, I finally had to step up and take charge and ask our guide to back away.
We had a great time exploring Ethiopia. This is a beautiful country with beautiful people. Our God really is an amazing artist.