After several days in Addis Ababa, travel bug hit and soon I left heading about 270km Southwards to Hawassa/Awassa /Awasa. Location was chosen as I was informed I could experience culture here which is normally what I look for in my trips.
Things to do in Hawassa:
This is one revered Orthodox Church and it is truly a piece of Art. It is beautiful. In the Orthodox Church, women dress in long dresses. One is expected to cover their head with a scarf or shawl –white seemed to be the colour of choice. The men and women do not mix in the church and enter from different doors.
2.Visit Lake Hawassa
As you drive to Hawassa, you will have a major lake flowing beside you for most of the distance. This lake is 16km long and about 9km wide. It is a place frequented by both local and domestic tourists. It is beautiful, laid back and a place to relax. You will see young men swimming, fishermen cleaning their catch , boat rides, food joints among others.
Here, I met and became friends with a guy called Demise. He saw the challenge I was having trying to take selfies with the lake. He first said hi to me in Amharic, I smiled , he smiled then spoke in English. I was tired and finally happy to have an English speaker whom I could ask a few questions. We spoke and ended up being friends with him offering to show me around Hawassa. Demise-Thank you.Told you, make friends everywhere-they enrich the trip even more.
This is a beautiful hotel, the walk way from the main road is well adorned with cabro. I had to visit this place as it came highly recommended for cultural stuff. They have an area set aside to share their culture with its visitors. You get to meet “grandfather” reading tales of old to children and wanna be children like myself. He is dressed traditionally, the sitting area is all traditional-I was overjoyed.
You can also take a nap on their traditional bed-which is made of hide and is quite comfortable. You get to see what their traditional homes looked like from the coffee ceremony area, to the Injeera basket, to the cow pen-I love love love this place. There was the cutest girl there who could not understand why oh why I could not speak Amharic yet I looked like her “Ethiopian.”Perhaps I should check my ancestry.
This Resort is owned by the Famous, World Reknown Marathon runner Haile GebreSellassie. The hotel is beautiful. Now, the Sunset from here-breathtaking. The lake on this side is even closer, the view amazing and to top it off there was a hippo that kept bobbing its head , grunting and looking at us-I think to say hello. I only wish I would have met Mr.GebreSellasie-anyone out there who can make it happen?
- Walk , walk, walk
Hawassa is beautiful-very beautiful. It’s serene and peaceful. The streets are clean, trees lining the roads and once you get a hang of the place you can get almost everywhere walking (wear comfy shoes). This also allows you to see more, interact more with the people and give you a chance to appreciate Hawassa.
- Befriend the police:
Ok this should be the general rule everywhere you travel .The police in Ethiopia take security and hospitality a notch higher. So, I disembark from the bus and look around-the usual “what do I do now” kind of look, backpack on my back. I stop a bajaj (tuktuk) and ask if he knew the location of my would be hotel-Nope. So I stand, trying to look for option B- maybe a hotel nearby. I see a police and go to ask for guidance to my hotel. He queried if I had been to the hotel before and if I knew anything about it. Long story short-the police carried me in their vehicle to the hotel, talked to the management and told them to ensure I am well-If any of my property or myself got lost or hurt they would be in trouble and with that, they gave me their contacts in case I needed any help. Like really, Hawassa cops Rock. Thank You
- Crash Weddings:
Yes, I did and I am not ashamed to say it. I kept mentally whining that I wanted to see and experience Ethiopian weddings. Challenge, I knew no-one getting married and was about to resign to the fact I wouldn’t experience a wedding but God made it possible. Walking around ended up giving me the opportunity to “crash”6 weddings. I experienced a traditional wedding , a modern wedding, a Christian wedding, an Orthodox wedding and finally a Muslim wedding. The music , the dances, the clothes-a must see. Hawassa rocks.
Now, tip- Ethiopian weddings are mainly held on Sunday so if you are around on a Sunday you have a high chance of seeing one.
Now this falls under one of my all time favourite. This pub/ restaurant normally have local entertainment-not sure if daily but I confirm they do on Sunday. I watched several dances from several tribes and let me tell you-those dances will entrance you- Wolayta ,Conso ,Gurage etc , let’s just say you need lots of energ. Every body part will be used and you will be entertained-you will want to join in-you will join in. The hosts of the night were really cool, they entertained , they sang, they danced—I need Ethiopian Dance lessons-Anyone?
Local Brew-Tej aka honey wine in a berele glass-I hear its sweet
The place I slept the first night didn’t really jazz me so I moved to Kale Penison. It is cute, clean and near all the great places .
The road network is great and the scenery is beautiful. I travelled on the Selam Bus for about 4-5hrs , which I highly recommend .They offer biscuits and water, on board entertainment, are new, clean and spacious and it only cost Birr 160.(less than 5 dollars). The scenery-you pass through savanna, then farms all green and healthy and then you get to areas occupied by pastoralists-you may get to see a heard of camels crossing the road. There are places you will see donkeys being used as a mode of transport. I think I need to return and stay a bit longer in this environment.
I would highly recommend a visit to Awassa/Awasa/ Hawasa. This place just oozes of beauty and organization and there is so much more culture I need to learn. I will return one day.