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We travelled a lot in Ethiopia earlier this month, where you don’t estimate your journey in miles but rather in hours. There is much road work in progress–but still much to be done!
If it’s not the condition of the roads that slows you down, then it will be the flow of pedestrians. Not your typical pedestrian either, but folks with amazing talents. My traveling friend, Craig Meredith, an engineer from Spokane, said it was the Coriolis effect. Something to do with the equator and gravity. They carried almost anything on their heads, and I often saw an orange plastic bottle for water, a regular chore.
There were many donkey-drawn wagons with five-year-olds at the reins (well, they looked five), tuk-tuks (an Ethiopia taxi) in the city and on all roads in between, as well as an array of animals: goats, sheep, monkeys and dogs.
My favorite sight was the coffee trees, just growing there on the side of the road. Did anyone pick and harvest the beans? Was the dust too much for the cherries? Were they even noticed by the locals or was it just too common? There are four common farming systems in Ethiopia: forest coffee, semi-forest coffee, garden coffee and plantation coffee–but I found the fifth: the side-of-the-road coffee trees!
–Paul Allen, Roastmaster