Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ethiopia: On to Nazret

Dawit took me and Stephanie to the Meskel Square bus station, where we caught a bus for Nazret (aka Adama).

Ethiopians on public buses are notorious for wanting to keep the bus windows shut, resulting in hot, sweaty, airless, smelly, and sometimes vomitous interior conditions.

Photo credit:
Stephanie has learned to withstand the protests of her fellow bus riders in order to keep a window open by her seat, even when this results in theatrical displays of suffering by covering heads and bodies with blankets and other signs of protest. To prevent fellow passengers from closing her window, Stephanie sometimes inserts a pebble into the window track, making it impossible to shut the window completely. Stephanie can then shrug and say to passengers (who are presumably in the final throes of death due to the killer wind) that the window is broken. Or she will finally brush off with a smart remark, the one-too-many arms that invade her space in an attempt to close her window.

Anyway, we arrived in Nazret without incident (and with our window open), got off at the corner by the Dire International Hotel on the main drag, and walked two hot and dusty blocks on the rutted side road to Azeb's walled little compound. (Azeb is Dawit's mother.)

What a pleasure to walk into Azeb's bright and light living room. Painted a fresh pistachio green, the high-ceilinged room is lit by the east-facing, ceiling-high windows and glass doors. Azeb's bedroom is immediately off the living room, and a small hallway gives access to a tiny kitchen, second bedroom, and bathroom. The second bedroom has a large chifferobe that I was thrilled to have for unpacking my stuff for the next two weeks. A blue mosquito net apparatus looms over my twin bed, which is made up in a cheerful blue and white sheet and an ivory-colored duvet.

Stephanie took me out to see the schools and a bit of the town. On the block over from Azeb's, I looked left down the street and saw a very large, white body of something lying in the middle of the road. Stephanie conjectured it was a dead horse. It was almost in front of a little souk, and required passers-by to side-step the creature on their way to the store. I said I wanted to go look at it, and Stephanie obliged. As we approached, we could see it was, indeed, a prostrate horse, with a ghastly sore on one of its legs. I made a soft comment to Stephanie as we walked past (me in some horror), to the effect that I thought maybe the horse was still breathing, and incredibly, this animal attempted to arise. I wondered aloud if it were possible in this town to get a gun so the horse could be put out of its misery.

Stephanie noted that, although an animal lover since childhood, she had become (to her dismay) hardened to such things here. I can understand this. Ethiopia is a tough place.

When Azeb, Stephanie, and I discussed this horse later, with me wondering where the horse came from, etc. Stephanie and Azeb noted the existence of what people call the "Nazret horses". These are horses that hang about town, seemingly on their own, often just standing in a group in the middle of a street, forcing traffic to go around them.

I remembered sisters Mimi's and Katie's horses and how, as they entered extreme old age, Mimi and Katie had to consider the inevitable disposal of their remains. One option was to have a really big hole dug - not inexpensive. Another option was to have the carcass picked up and disposed of by a vendor - also not inexpensive.

With the owners of Nazret's horse-drawn taxis barely (I'm assuming) earning a living, I'm guessing that when a horse becomes too infirm for work, the owner turns it out to fend for itself.

Trucks, pedestrians, and horse-drawn taxis (gari) share this Nazret side street.

Anyway, back to this particular white, almost-dead horse in the middle of the road. Azeb and Stephanie predicted the hyenas would dispatch it overnight.

No comments: