Today was another great day in Ethiopia. On our way to visit a sheep farm an hour away from Dessie, we had some technical issues, so while our fearless leaders went back to Dessie to get some papers, we got to explore the Ethiopian countryside a little bit. We got to try our hands at plowing with a yoke of oxen, which is much harder than it looks. It was difficult to keep the plow deep enough and going straight.
We also attempted to harvest teff, a native grain, and all the Ethiopians were laughing at us, so at least we provided some entertainment for them. Then we saw them threshing wheat using donkeys or horses to trample the wheat and separate the kernels and the straw. We seem to attract a crowd wherever we go, and the children like to follow us around.
It is crazy how different their lifestyle is here than back in the states. The Ethiopians are so connected to the land, plowing fields, planting and harvesting crops and raising livestock. All their animals serve a purpose and are put to work. It’s like going back in time a couple hundred years. There is a beauty in the rural, agrarian lifestyle. It seems simpler, like a good life. But I know that I have an outsider’s view, and that the life is actually harsh and hard. But can’t there still be good things about it? Yes, they don’t have a lot of technology, modern farming implements and such, but does that mean that their lives cannot still be satisfying? Many times I feel like technology takes away from our lives, but then again, I forget how much easier our lives are with things like washing machines and tractors. The Ethiopians have good things still, unprocessed, fresh food free of preservatives, close friends and family… It’s just a totally different life.
We visited a sheep farm, where we got to hold some adorable lambs. The highlands where the sheep farm was are so very beautiful, but a harsh kind of beauty, where the farming is difficult and only shepherds are able to make a living. This was an example of large scale farming in Ethiopia. All the animals are free ranging, with herders and dogs which take care of them and guard them from the foxes (They said foxes, but we saw what they were referring to, and they looked more like wolves, or about dog sized).
We have all been practicing our Amharic and are getting some of the basic words down, but we still have a very long way to go until we can actually have a conversation or communicate! But the people here are great, and always willing to help us.