Check out these marabous! Look at the one's neck- selfishly eating all of the fish guts.
When you arrive at the fish market, lots of kids come up and ask you if you'd like them to feed the marabous. They gather the fish guts from the cleaning tables, and toss them to the birds for people who are interested in taking pictures of the huge beasts. These birds were bigger than Maya, and reminded me of the storks that bring babies in cartoons- they surely could carry a toddler!
We bought some local crafts- some hippo teeth (I'm not sure if they really are, but I can tell you that hippos are not endangered) and some cow-horn spoons that I decided wouldn't be used as spoons but maybe as a decoration.
The fishermen leave around 5am to collect their nets, which they had placed in the previous evening in the best spots on the lake. When they come back, they dump, clean, and sell their fish, and then set to repairing their nets and washing out their boats.
He came out of his house, and we all took a little taxi together. When I say little, I mean a 3 wheel, cute taxi with small curtains for doors. If you go to Awassa, you have to use their tiny taxis- cheap and tipici. If you are more adventurous, you can use the donkey-cart-turned taxi, which I really wanted to do but didn't have the opportunity. We saw a lot of construction, people selling things on the street, the St. Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Cathedral (the largest in SNNPR), and a billboard campaigning for the prime minister Meles Zenawi (whose symbol is the honeybee= hard-working). We saw a lot of bikes, and bike "repair shops," which were mostly teenagers working on the side of the road fixing or rebuilding bikes while you waited, many times sitting on crates drinking coffee. The houses were very mixed income- we saw huge mansions with walls of windows facing the lake, and smaller mud huts with corrugated metal roofs. Most, if not all, of the houses were enclosed by fences that were frequently topped by chards of glass or metal to deter intruders (reminiscent of Latin American neighborhoods). I must say that this threat is almost nonexistant, as Awassa is a very safe town and we never felt threatened even by pickpocketers.
The cooks (different women- not nannies) were sitting on the ground in the courtyard drying chiles and making berbere. We found out that Engida likes spicy food! He will get along well with my boys:). We learned a little about the orphanage, and were impressed with the care the children receive, even with limited resources. There is a full-time nurse, and a part-time doctor who manage the health of the children. There are many nannies, and each bedroom has a particular nanny who is in charge of those children. They sleep on the floor (literally, they showed us the straw mats they use) in their assigned rooms. My face must have shown my shock about the sleeping on the floor bit, and Ato Girma explained "It's so when they have to go to the bathroom, or if they need a glass of water, the nanny is right there to help them." So sweet! My fears of Engida crying out at night and his cries being unaswered were immediately alleviated. Recently, the orphanage directors from Awassa were all summoned to a meeting to assess the care and address issues related to regularions and standards. Ajuuja was rewarded for its high standard in caring for the children, something that Girma was quite proud of (as he should be) and mentioned more than once (even showing us pictures of himself at the meeting). Ajuuja has to turn away children due to lack of resources, and hopes to work with WACAP to be able to expand their services and take in more children in need. Girma was very proud that they have saved so many lives, and told us stories of several children who arrived severely malnourished that were then rehabilitated and currently healthy. He showed us the infant's "wing" (2 bedrooms with 4-5 cribs each) that is constantly disinfected- people should not enter with shoes on, and no older children are allowed inside. Each room has a rocking chair and the nanny also sleeps in the floor in her assigned room. She wakes several times a night to change a diaper or feed someone a bottle. There is a lot of love in this orphanage, and the nannies are really attached to the children!!! (and vice versa) There is a tiny twin (21 days old) whose sister (I think it is a girl) is in the hospital, but getting healthy. Another little 6 month old baby with the biggest smile in the world was sitting up in her crib playing with the one set of baby toys that is shared among the babes. There are lots of blankets to keep everyone warm when it is "cold" at night (60s). Askala was a gracious host, and kept looking at us and smiling. She is the home manager, responsible for food, controlling sanitation, and managing the nannies. She is so nice and her warm smile made us feel so welcome. She told us that Engida likes to come into her office while she is doing paperwork, and snuggle with her- I believe she really loves him and will miss him tremendously. We get the feeling that he is a favorite of hers.
When we got back to the hotel, we got to see some monkeys. Girma lives right next door (to the right) of this house. The black and white monkey is a Colobus monkey, and the other brown/grey monkey we were told "is a normal monkey-" because I guess some monkeys are so prevalent they are like squirrels:).
This is 5 minutes from our hotel, really just on the outskirts of town. There are 2 main cross streets in town, and beyond this concentrated business area you are immediately in the countryside. You can see the typical house made of false banana-
More of the same area. Awassa had a lot of construction (like most places we have visited). There were huge government offices outside of the city that had recently been constructed. People outside of Awassa farm false banana and use the enset for their houses. Most children in orphanages are Sidama or are from Awassa town.
Many people use natural plants (often times cacti or eucalyptus) as fences to create a boundary around their land, or even to create corrals for their cattle. Very effective!
Here are some local kids, very curious about our cameras. They had fun taking pictures of each other and looking at themselves in the images on the screen. Check out the little dude's hair style in the front row. Stylin'!
We passed through different "woredas," which are kind-of like districts or mini-regions. We passed through Shebedino and Wondoganas among others. Kids were carrying bundles of chat on their heads, chewing on sugar cane, women wearing scarves were carrying goods to and from the market, donkey taxis filled with people and driven by little kids were bustling by. In corn fields we would pass little look-out towers where kids were on patrol looking for animals stealing their crops. People used false banana leaves to wrap up food, chat, firewood, etc.
Look through the window at the mount of table tennis games going on!
We drove for about an hour outside of Awassa..
and finally arrived at the natural hot springs. There are pools built around the hot springs, and also a cold river. They have showers fed by the hot waters- when I say showers, I mean a pipe of boiling hot water with various holes creating a row of spouts for people to stand under. There was a section for men (full of men in bathing suits and underwear) and a section for women (empty). I decided to go with the flow, and NOT swim, since I would have been the only female. Girma and Tonio took hot showers (Tonio in his jean shorts) and Tonio said that the water was literally almost boiling.