“Wanna get something to eat?” Mekele, Ethiopia


A slightly chilled breeze blew some plastic bags and leaves past the stairs to the hotel.  The pungent smell of piss and burning trash goes unnoticed.  We walked into the street deciding that we don’t need to spend all our money at our hotel. The street is pitch black and we reminisce about how it resembles the streets of Rangoon but without all of the man sized holes in the sidewalk. We only see some dimly lit shops selling biscuits, crisps, and toilet paper.  We poke our heads into a bar and ask if they serve food and get only blank stares. We smile and say good bye and everyone laughs. At the next roundabout we see lights to the left and follow them. Laughter pours from a room and we go to it. The people inside are smiling and patting seats for us to join them.  We ask if there is food but one woman says “ba!” meaning “bar”. She pats the seat again but I say we will be back after dinner.  A manboy follows us out and asks what we want, at least that’s what it seems. English is really only learned by people in the tourism industry is the impression I have so far. I say “food” and use the universal sign for eating by motioning my hand to my mouth. “’A-wo”’ he says, “yes” in Amharic, the language most spoken among northern tribes. He points and says “second light”. We say “amasagilahu”, a complete butchering of “thank you”.

We head in the direction he pointed not knowing at all what he meant. There are a few dinly lit bulbs.  We hear some chatter and head that way.  Tuk-tuk drivers badger us for rides so we know we be near something where there are people.  Another bar.  We walk back past the tuk-tuk drivers, hungry and tired. We stop to look around and realize we are in front of what might be a restaurant.  We walk up the stairs and all of the staff slowly begins to smile.  Two manboys are chatting quickly and eating bread.  They turn and say “sulam” (hello).

A waiter comes and shyly smiles. I ask for a menu and his smile grows.  He says something. I say “dinner”. He says something else. We are all smiling and laughing bc we have hit my favorite part of travel, the language barrier.  I motion to my mouth and bluntly say “food”.  He says “food” and nods clearly not knowing what food is.  He says “bread”.  Now we are getting somewhere.  In a few minutes more we have ordered something.

One of the manboys next to us receives food and offers for us to try it.  Angi tries it and he invites us to join them.  We break bread and run it through the thick red, spicy sauce in the bowl.  I ask what it is and he says he does not know.  I ask if he lives here and he says “yes”. OK, so maybe he had trouble ordering too but its delicious and I hope this is what we get.  No. It comes.  Its eggs.  I swore after Uganda I would not eat another egg. Tonight we would dine on eggs.  Impressed and humbled with the generosity of the locals, we headed back to the hotel.

Note: Normally I would sit on something I write and edit it later but I just feel like throwing this one out there for people.  Cheers and Happy New Year!

9 thoughts on ““Wanna get something to eat?” Mekele, Ethiopia

    • Hi Mike,

      Cool man, I am glad it had that effect on someone. It was such a fun time. Ethiopian people are so giving and kind. Its definitely in my top 3 countries now and I came here on a whim from Uganda. Hope you are well. Its christmas here tomorrow so merry ethiopian christmas! Oh yeah, its also 2006 here. Awe yeah


  1. Pingback: At the merkato Axum, Ethiopia | ExploreDreamDiscover Talks

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