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post Under the Fig Tree

May 28th, 2013

Filed under: Literature Corner — Natty Mark Samuels @ 14:56

To Ata and the staff, of the Blue Nile Hotel.Lake Tana. The largest lake in Ethiopia and the source of the Blue Nile. Central to the lives of the people of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia’s seventh largest town.

On my last day in Ethiopia, I sat blessed by the sun, under an awesome fig tree, on the lakeside, relaxing in sweet reminiscence…..

Cycling up to the Blue Nile, weaving in and out with the three-wheeled taxis. Sharing the road with the cattle; letting the goats and their herder pass by.

Back around the lake, I bought lentil samosas called sambuusa, from two boys. Passing a marshy area, I stood and watched a farmer, tending to his mangoes and papayas.

Onwards to a little wooded area, where a musician in a wheelchair, playing a traditional harp called begena, entertained those who gathered around.

Passed a spot where people bathed. Soap and laughter in the water.

To where the man was making a tankwa, a canoe-like craft, made from papyrus reeds. I was told it took a day to make the smaller ones, two days for the larger. They have been making them that way since time began.

The children, diving off rocks and splashing around. The adults chatting around them.
A solitary fisherman in his tankwa, checking his nets. Watched by the pelicans and I.

The journey across the lake, to the medieval island monasteries on Genna (Christmas Day - Jan.7th). Ibises flying above me. Near the Debre Maryam Monastery isle, where the lake becomes the river, I saw the heads of two hippopotamuses.

I had a chat with some guys under a tree of shade, speaking of Ethiopian history: buying drinks from a lakeside bar.

I wish I could have sat longer under that fig tree. But it was time to go. So I searched along the bank, finding pieces of volcanic rock to keep as souvenirs, alongside the mementos, sparkling in my head.

©Natty Mark Samuels, 2011.

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