Ringing in the 25th

I was chatting with fellow Addis expat NicoJah the other day about travel blogging and the topic of blog-naming came up. For those of you who aren’t familiar with American literature, the name of this blog comes from a combination of references: one to the classic novel, Where the Red Fern Grows, and the other to a classic children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are. My wonderfully creative friends Stephanie and Michael conjured it up over a cup of coffee during my goodbye visit to DC.

The idea of Ferng (my own family name) “growing” around the world was particularly appealing because it captured the change and personal development that comes with new experiences. The protagonists of the books also go through similar personal growth, with the ‘wild’ imagination of Max adding a certain pizazz and creativity to the mix.

And thus it is especially fitting that I am spending my 25th birthday in a new place with new friends. Last night we went out celebrating by bar hopping through the city center area, and tonight the celebrations continued with a traditional Ethiopian dinner and dance performance. The dancing was breathtaking. Typically these song-and-dance shows can be pretty cheesy, but this one blew all of us away with the variety of regional styles, the quality of the performance, and the genuine fun the performers were having. The best part was when members of the audience volunteered to hop onstage and ‘battle it out’ on the dancefloor. It was yet another testament to the Ethiopian people’s pride of their own cultural heritage that they knew these moves as well as the performers.

I opted not to bring my camera so as to enjoy the moment, but here is one shot from my friend Danielle:

At Yod Abyssinia, a traditional Ethiopian restaurant

We were joined by Stewart, a fellow traveler whom I’d met earlier while borrowing internet in a random hotel lobby. One of my favorite things of traveling is meeting all these interesting people. Stewart is a stellar example;  a former Mormon missionary in Taiwan (!) who renounced his religion, he now studies astronomy in Hong Kong and practices stand-up comedy among the local scene. We shared a great cup of traditional Ethiopian coffee and popcorn after the meal, grateful for the fact that he is no longer forbidden to have coffee and tea. (In his own words, imagine spending two years in Taiwan–a country with some of the world’s finest leaves–without a single cup of tea!)

One of these days I will write a complete post on Ethiopia food. For now, I’ll have to leave you with the image of the stunning platter above.


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