April 11, 2009
As foreign and hard life is here at times, it is really starting to feel like home for me and my aunt, we are walking around more freely and more comfortable with trying out the local food and drink. We run into many new found friends on the street walking back from cultural fairs or restaurants. Walking everywhere has been nice especially because we feel like we have been eating too well…the exercise is needed. We have been going to the neighboring cathedral a lot as Easter is approaching and preparations are being made in this very Christian town for the upcoming holiday. They hymns the people sing are absolutely haunting, they are accompanied now by traditional drums and bells and it resonates through the wide cathedral halls and created a very atmospheric ambiance that would send anybody into a trance like state; it reminds me of the Tibetan monk chants. I myself not being a practicing catholic still appreciate the beauty it holds however reactions from people here are more shocked of my absence of faith because of how intertwined faith and culture are they are disturbed by my beliefs. When I openly said I was agnostic to a friend named Atakelti (who by far speaks the most fluent English) He turned his back on me in shock and half disgust, I then also chose to sit outside the church and listen to the hymns with the children and watch the mountains while the echoes of the songs traveled out through the buildings arches. People were confused as to why I was not in the church, I would get weird glances and remarks thrown at me such as “What is the matter with you? Why are you not in Church? Are you burning?” It was the first time I ever felt uncomfortable because of my beliefs (or lack of) these people cannot fathom a life without god and the idea that there is maybe not this paradise after death and the fact that someone questions it concerns them. I however will never press my beliefs on anyone and keep it to myself but when asked, I will not lie to them. I respect aspects of Christianity and these people who are really trying to make a difference in the community and like them I too just want to help. And I would like to show people that you don’t have to be Christian to have a desire to love your fellow man and help people, you don’t have to be anything to have a desire to make this world a better place. There is love and respect for the people even without the commitment to a religious following in my life. Ata let it go the next day when he warmly welcomed us to his office so we could use the internet, the only place in Adigrat that has broadband. Before hand we got the opportunity to see a cultural fair taking place in downtown Adigrat with different tribes competing for trophies to see who could put on the best musical and dance performance of their tribe. It was remarkable to see the endurance the musicians/dancers had. It was a hot day and they were leaping around while playing the drums and tooting their horns and the women balanced woven baskets and pots on their elegantly braided heads. Afterwards we met up with Ata and he showed us more Ethiopian music, and we showed him Jimi Hendrix J I then got the chance to climb the church’s bell tower with my camera and get some cool shots of this small city surrounded on all sides with immense mountain ranges. We got to witness the men practicing their chants for Palm Sunday and it was entrancing as usual and I actually look forward to going to church and hearing that all morning tomorrow. We ate later that day at a traditional restaurant and had this delicious meal that has this spicy, meaty, cheesy, floury dip in the middle and you dip rolled balls of special dough and it melts in your mouth with a variety of wonderful tastes. We ate so much of it by the time we got back to the sisters house, we were stuffed already and we came back in time for dinner, which we ate one agonizing bite at a time feeling our waistline expand with each swallow. Ata rented Ray for us so we sat slumped in the chairs afterwards in a food coma watching a pirated, scratched version of Ray. Good times.