Roadtrip Day 17: Homestay in Cello Mariam

January 20th, 2018

We check out after breakfast. I forgo the usual “egg surprise” routine, and settle on cocopops with hot milk. The Ethiopian versions of continental breakfasts never cease to surprise us!

We pick up the wedding anniversary cake (which turns out to be the wrong one), and head for the village where Lina’s family lives. Today is their 10th wedding anniversary, and a party is called for.

As we drive out of Gondar we nearly run over a man who is talking on his mobile phone, and not watching where he is going. Interesting to see that the same things happen across the world.

After dropping our bags and the cake off, we head to Kola Diba, the nearby larger village, to see their Timkat and St Michaels celebrations. We are definitely the only tourists here.

Kola Diba Timkat procession, priests with sisterns and staffs

Frank and Mike withdraw to a local cafe for some early beers and nibbles, while Lina and I walk through the village. We are surrounded by at least two dozen children.

We can get a lot closer to the celebrations, as the locals push us forward and are keen to share. Very different from the big majestic celebrations in Gondar, this is a small procession and also has simulated stick fights.

Traditional stick fights as part of St Michael celebrations
My camera with its display screen is a big hit with the local kids

Then it is party time! The happy couple is blessed by the priest and has to cut that cake that just about survived the bumpy roads.

We start off in two groups, the men sitting around the back patio of Lina’s parents house, and the women along the new guest wing. However, once the music, singing and dancing starts, the two groups quickly merge. Freshly brewed local mead (Tala) is served.

We have speeches, cake, a whiskey ceremony, a bard, and are eating, drinking and dancing until late into the night. These people know how to throw a party! Naturally, we have to participate in the dancing, and our shoulders get a great work out! There may be videos on Youtube of strange white people shaking their booty!

No party is complete without a Bard providing a witty commentary

In the meantime the cows come in from the fields, shepherded by one of the boys in the family. They are tied to a long tree trunk that is laying in front of our guest room, ignoring the partying going on around them. They will stay here for the night, some are milked, and their dung is dried and used as fuel. Nothing goes to waste.

those cows…

This is the first time ever that, to get to the toilet in the middle of the night, I have to carefully step over a tree trunk, and around cows in the dark. And I am a diary farmers daughter!

Travel Details and Tips:

Accomodation: Family Stay in Cello Mariam

Tip: If you are visiting with locals, make sure you pack some gifts. If in doubt, a bottle of quality spirits (whiskey, gin, etc) is usually appreciated.

For the children in the family take pens, pencils and note blocks, items that are useful for school. A bag of candy will also be welcome.

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