I had one of the best days of my life today and it is all thanks to a 13 year old boy named Adam.
Adam attends the school where we took part in the uniform ceremony. He had received his uniform at the ceremony the year before but came again this year to hang out. I left the ceremony a bit early as I was not feeling 100% and was just keen to take a tuk-tuk back to the hotel where we were camping. The school was located down the side of a mountain in a grassy area far from any main roads. As I walked away from the school I think this little boy realized I was 1) heading in the wrong direction and 2) looked like I was going to die so he came running up to me and said “I will show you a short-cut back to the main road and can I carry your bag for you it looks very heavy”. I’m not sure what surprised me more:
1) This little boy on the side of a mountain in Ethiopia had near perfect English.
2) He actually did want to carry my bag (and not steal it).
3) That I actually looked too pathetic to carry my own camera bag.
Anyway we chatted the whole way back up to the main road about his family, school, life and sports. Then he asked me what sports I liked and I told him skiing and snowshoeing. Suddenly, it was like his comprehension of the English language had been completely wiped out. “I don’t understand” he said. “I’ve never heard these words before”. So I asked him if he had ever seen a snowman. (In retrospect it was likely THE dummest follow-up question on the planet). “Snowman” as this poor little guys eyebrows furrowed even further. So in my best meteorological terms (I am sure) I explained what snow was, how it formed, what it looked like when it landed on the ground. And then Adam pointed to the sandy path we were walking on and said to me “does it look like this”. Fair enough Adam– my description of snow was so bad it could have also described sand, crème brulee or my last attempt at baking a birthday cake. Anyway Adam helped me find a tuk-tuk that day and we said our good-byes.
The next day I went back to the town center to find some breakfast and take a look around and within minutes I ran into Adam and that is where our adventure began. We spent the day together drinking juice at a fabulous juice bar where he had a giant piece of chocolate cake. Then headed to the local market where, before we entered, he stopped me to tell me to watch my wallet, hide my camera and just be aware. After the market I told him I was hungry and wanted to try some traditional food. He said there was a restaurant beside his soccer field run by four sisters from his village that he has always wanted to see the inside of. Let’s check it out. We walked across his soccer field to find one of the cutest restaurants I’ve seen in all of Ethiopia. I ordered the traditional fasting meal and a coffee and he ordered an egg sandwich and a coke.
It was at the restaurants that we exchanged email addresses. He gave me his firstname.lastname@example.org and I gave him mine email@example.com. To which he replied – “your father’s name is Africa”? I don’t think I’ve stopped giggling yet.
After the restaurant I walked him back to his house to see where he lived and to meet his family. Two super cute younger brothers (Yosef and Sayed) and two super shy older sisters.
His mother makes injera for families about 3-4 times a week and gets paid about 10 birr a day (50 cents)
and his father used to make traditional clothing but he passed away from an illness (Adam pointed to his side but didn’t know the word) about one year ago.
Some other local kids stopped in and although I don’t understand a word of Amharic I knew Adam was saying ..”And then I ate chocolate cake, and went into that fancy restaurant and ate French fries..”…and the other kids all sat there like kids in any neighbourhood do when someone on the block does something cool with their mouths open and listening to every detail.
I bought Adam a piece of cake and an egg sandwich with fries and made his day. He showed me his life and welcomed me into his world and for that I can never repay him.
I had to go back to camp – so we hugged and he (as always) got me safely into a tuk-tuk.
Adam, I will always keep in touch with you. You are a true star and have been a great introduction into Ethiopian culture.