Africa Plus travel blog

The Nun & The Qat

Major Qat Sales Along the Way

Major Qat Sales


Had a great time in Ethiopian restaurant Agelgil...Classical & traditional Ethiopian music, song, & dance w/ Abraham last nite. His brother, Habtamu picked us up just past 5 and took us to bus sta. in his taxi(Abraham got it for him to give him a start from savings from job Marta got him while she was here!). Luckily we had bought our tickets the day before and the ticket office guy recom we pay a fellow to save seats for us.

We arr at 5:30 and the bus was fully packed w/ people but Johnny(guy we hired) had our seats upfront saved! Left at just past 6...very interesting since every bus going everywhere seems to leave at the same time in a huge bus station exidus. It took 45 minutes just to get out of Addis, lots of new road constr...by 10 we reached mtns and for next 5 hours wound our way up & down thru picturesque mtns/valleys with herds of livestock(goats, cattle, etc) and terraced hillsides planted thickly with qat! The valley grasses chewed shorter than golf greens seemed to teem with people and livestock all very actively engaged in their lives, wonderful pastoral scenes.

Finally, about 4 the bus broke down and after several false starts we opted at the urging of another fellow and a nun who spoke English to take a minivan that had stopped the short distance remaining. Once underway again, we discussed our options(it was 5 now and still more than an hour to go). Not getting clear indications as to train situation in Dire Dawa, we decided to go to Dire Dawa the train terminus, instead of Harar, to get more info directly from the "horses' mouth" so to speak.

When we arrived it took some questioning but finally Bon found out from a fellow that yes, the train usually goes every day to Djibouti but they were waiting for fuel from Djibouti so would not know for sure when it would leave, best chk tomor!

We chkd into Makonnen(or Mekonnen as LP says) Hotel across from RR station, best O.N. value we've found in Ethiopia, $2 US each!!!

Driving thru the mtns the qat (also called/spelled khat,quatt,kat,& tchat) is big business...several times we stopped and guys piled out all excited to get their 'hit' (I guess its like speed in its effect) so by the time we got off the last time the floor was covered with spent leaves and branches, they prefer the reddish new leaves on the tips of the branches. Also saw T P's of corn stalks all up and down the terraced hillsides so, indeed they do grow some actual food.

Back to plastic bag bushes in the countryside as well...trash piles along the road and wind blown kites of black and white bags dancing in the breezes!



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