Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ethiopia: Nazret, Day 8, English Alive Academy

Two English Alive Academy teachers
I took pictures again today at the English Alive Academy to finish up. I regret that I probably missed a few children, so their parents won't get a photo, but I did the best I could. I also took photos of the teachers, the administrative staff, and the cleaners.

Enjoyed three great classroom teachings at the grade school. I love how the teachers laugh (and then the children) laugh when I push my mouth into various contortions to demonstrate proper English pronunciation. Amharic has the lovely rolling r's like Spanish and the charming "z" sound, like French, when pronouncing "th." Nevertheless, I must insist on the plainer English r's and th's.

An English Alive Academy teacher
After school, I had an appointment with school administrator Adenech, who'd invited me to her house for a coffee ceremony. We walked to her compound, which was a pleasing shady oasis providing relief from the throat-closing dustiness of Nazret's side streets. Adenech lives there with her husband, son, daughter, mother, and maid. Because of the ever-rising cost of living in Ethiopia, Adenech and her husband have rented one of the compound's outbuildings to a woman. Inside the compound are a couple of coffee shrubs, fruit trees, and flowers.

The maid was making injera, and that was fun to see the entire process laid out before me: the large container with the grain teff in it, a bucket with the teff/water mixture that had been fermenting for three days (like sourdough), the maid scooping out the teff dough and placing it on a hot skillet, and a completed injera cooling atop a holder.

An English Alive Academy teacher with students
Adenech had prepared a charcoal brazier over which she placed green coffee beans. She used a special tool to continuously move the beans over the heat, roasting them til they darkened and the coffee oil emerged to the surface, making the beans glisten. Habtom, Adenech's son, then placed the roasted beans into a special container and ground them with what looked like an immense, heavy flat-top screw. Pound! Pound! Pound!

When Habtom completed the coffee grinding (pounding), Ruth finished the coffee-making process by adding water to filter through the coffee, using the traditional jabena.

A large platter of popcorn appeared (now we're talkin'!), and I was instructed that one does not eat the popcorn until after the injera. Injera? Appeared before me fresh, fresh injera, followed by shiro and gomen (cooked greens or cabbage). I wasn't hungry, but ate anyway. THEN the popcorn! The coffee was delicious!

Joining us in the coffee ceremony were Adenech's best friend, a high school chemistry teacher at the public school named Abebesh; the renter, Addedesh; Adenech's mother; Ruth, of course, and Habtom; and later, Adenech's husband, Haile Gyorgis.

An English Alive Academy teacher

I learned that this late afternoon meal-coffee is called mextus (or mexta?). I think it is akin to a British high tea. Anyway, we enjoyed a lazy, pleasurable chat in the breezy shade on Adenech's veranda.

Replete with coffee, injera, and popcorn, I made my way back to Azeb's, where I said I couldn't possibly have any dinner.

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