Debre Zyet, Ethiopia

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Debre Zyet, Ethiopia

I’ve never been in a country where I wake each morning to the chanting of prayer. It’s been a problem for some of my colleagues because the chanting sometimes starts at 4:00 a.m.! The Ethiopian Orthodox Church recites prayers for much longer than the Islam call to prayer. In fact, they pass out walking sticks that have a chin rest so the men can rest if they’re chanting for hours! But it seemed especially appropriate on a Sunday morning.

We went to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Debre Zyet.  It was heartwarming to see some of the translators we’ve been working with all week and meet their families.

Monica, one of my new friends, noticed early in the week that the schoolgirls are reluctant to participate in the village.  Of course she would–she’s a wealth planner at Goldman, Sachs & Company! When she managed to get one in front of the class the little girl froze and couldn’t speak.  All week long we’ve been encouraging the girls to feel comfortable answering questions.

So it was gratifying to attend Relief Society, the women’s meeting, at church today.  The group was small, but the women were confident in what they believed and spoke eloquently.  It inspired Monica and I to tears!  These woman are strong, beautiful women that are full of faith.

Monica invited me to attend lunch at the home of a relative of a friend. We arrived with some trepidation, not knowing what to expect.  The people were gracious and insisted we leave our shoes on even though they removed their shoes.  They poured water over our hands from a pitcher while we washed them in preparation for the meal. This is a custom and we did it after the meal as well.

And the meal!  It was the best meal we’ve had all week!  Monica said it redeemed her opinion of Ethiopian food.  We were served key wot (potato with meat and spiced with berbere),
alcha wot (potato and meat without spices), and timatim kurt (tomato with slivered onion and pepper).  The timatim was like a refreshing salsa to balance the richness of the stews or “wots”.  There was a bounty of rolled injera to eat with.

To get home, we took a bajaj!  They’re made in India and are basically a motorcycle with a box on it.  It was a fun ride and another unique form of transportation to add to my ongoing list.

Rhonda Sarantis

Rhonda Sarantis

"She's crazy and loud but she loves you!" That's what they tell my infant granddaughter to prepare her for my visit, so I thought it would be a great way to prepare you. And while I may not always be crazy or loud, one thing is always true: I LOVE people. That's at the heart of my passion for travel. I love getting to know people from different cultures who speak different languages, eat different food, have different ideas and opinions. I'm endlessly curious and make a point of reading about the countries I visit. Instead of saying "that's not how WE do it," I enjoy identifying strengths in diverse cultures, and learning about their way of life. I LOVE road trips! I have great memories of monthlong vacations growing up. Dad always had a van--before they were popular--and invited anybody who wanted to join us. My road trips within the United States will be featured in "The Lower Case Travelogs." Be sure to buckle your seat belt. I execute illegal u-turns if a bakery or estate sale is spotted!

Lalibela, Ethiopia

Ethiopian Orthodox Church

The Queen of Sheba

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Yerer, Ethiopia



  • Cindy

    What a wonderful way to end the week. See you soon, relatively speaking ?

    June 14, 2016 at 4:43 pm
  • Aaron G.

    I remember, hearing Sibang Gabi blasted over loud speakers in Tondo, Phillipines around Christmas time and that would last all night long usually midnight to sunrise. I can still hear the songs now! “Papuri sa diyos”! Haha. Great post by the way I really think the Ethopians have such a facinating culture, and religious heritage.

    July 4, 2016 at 8:10 am