A nasty flu bug has been going around since Thanksgiving. It made us cancel our Christmas dinner in December, and now our neighbors are very sick and had to cancel their Christmas dinner today. The girls put on their Ethiopian dresses anyway, and they even let me take a few pictures.
We were really looking forward to celebrating a traditional Ethiopian Christmas with the neighbors, but instead we ended up at our favorite burger joint, Sishu. (I would describe it for you, but my friend Sara already wrote a perfect review.)
Just like people did in South Africa when Charlotte was a baby, people here frequently grab Willa at restaurants. They don’t ask if they can pick her up; they just say “konjo, nah” (beautiful, come here–this is actually how to say “come” to a boy, but they always assume she’s a boy for some reason) and there she goes. Today at Sishu, the waitress picked her up and gave her a tour of the place. It always makes me just a little bit nervous, but I try to act cool.
On the way home we passed by the meat markets. There were enormous piles of sheepskins on every corner, because everyone slaughters a sheep for Christmas. At one corner I rolled down my window, and the man apparently in charge of the sheepskin pile rushed over and said “Ferenji!” (White person!) I pointed to Dan’s iPhone and mimed that I wanted to take a photo. He said, “money money money!” I was too anxious and flustered to say no, so I handed him a few birr and he moved out of the way for me to take a photo. I’m just proud of myself for going for it, despite my anxiety about taking photos out in public.
I’m pretty serious about improving my photos. I contacted some other photographers today whose Addis photos I admire, and asked them for tips on taking photos of people here. They gave great advice about where to go for great photos, but warned me that I need to be careful because most people do not like being photographed. One of them also advised against “poverty tourism” style photography, “a horrible side of developing world photography.” But I am not interested in photographing beggars or emphasizing the poverty here; I want to showcase the beauty of this place, the vibrant culture, the million details in every scene that make it so unlike anywhere else.