At the market with Noah

Following is a a third post from Noah who is spending a month is Soddo volunteering at CCCE .  Noah spent 2010 volunteering at CCCE working as a Children’s Home Manager.

One night Katie and I were debating staying at the Children’s Home or getting out and doing something else for the evening. We decided to eat out and just see what happened. We drove the motorbike up above town on the way up Damota Mountain to see the sun set over the Rift Valley, but weren’t able to see it from our vantage point. I turned off into a little neighborhood and we immediately had a crowd of children running after us. I was weaving through neighborhoods of mud and stick houses causing people to come out of their homes and stare. We found a great place to watch the sun say its final farewell right next to a home where a woman was standing bewildered at her new guests. We said hello and commented on the beautiful sunset in Amharic and a huge smile came across her face and we had a friend to share the end of the day with.

After departing from our sunset friend, we decided to wander around the market in the final minutes of daylight. The market is one of my favorite places in Soddo, 2nd in place behind the imitation YMCA. Generally it is a bustling bazaar with women squatting on the ground selling their vegetables; oxen, goats and donkeys wandering the aisles looking for something to nibble on; stick and tin shelters full of clothes, tools and a myriad of handy items. But this evening the market is winding down. Most of the people who sell from the ground have gone home and the majority of the stalls are closed up. The Muslim call to prayer floats over the market and Katie and I comment how different it sounds than the Orthodox chanting. We are rarely followed or bothered by children these days. I don’t know if people are just used to us, or if we carry ourselves and communicate in a way that tells others we are not tourists, but the market used to be a stressful event to undertake only on the bravest of days. It is now a place of pseudo fellowship where I can really experience this community with pleasure.

As Katie and I wander through the remaining shop keepers closing up, we greet and say the pleasantries with those we meet. Just as we are leaving a child comes up to us and opens his hands to reveal a small, furry creature. I can’t figure out what it is. It looks like a kitten, but its head is shaped differently and its body is much smaller and longer. It is grey and white striped. I ask him, “Min dih no?” What is it? He replies in English it is a lion. “Ambasa whem dimet?” Lion or cat? I ask him thinking he confused the two feline animals. “Not dimet! Lion!” he says emphatically. I can’t resist and ask to hold it and look at it in the face. It is a tiny little fellow and I am still dumbfounded at what it is. This cannot be a lion. There are no lions in this area of Ethiopia and it is TINY. By this time there is a crowd of probably 30 children surrounding us. So much for thinking we blend in. A 15ish boy breaks through the crowd and asks us in perfect English what the problem is. I tell him everything is okay and we are looking at this little furball trying to figure out what it is. He tells us it is a small lion that lives in the rural area outside of town. It must be an ocelot or something (that sounds good – I really have no idea what an ocelot is), but in any case it’s not every day you find a lion in the market. These are the things that make me laugh when I lay in bed at night and reflect over a most unusual and yet typical day.


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