Sunday’s in America were always a good day for me. It usually involved brunch, and retelling stories from the weekend. It was one more day to relax and get ready for the week ahead. Seeing as I typically go to bed at 9:30pm here, even on the weekends, the only stories I have to reiterate are the plots of the chick flicks that I probably fell asleep watching. But, I have found that “Sunday Funday” is actually a universal phenomenon, albeit a bit different in Ethiopia.
Every Sunday, after church, my landlords invite their friends over to drink tela, a local beer made of barley. These friends mainly consist of my landlady’s fellow elderly lady friends, who I must say, are awesome. For me, real friends here in Ethiopia come in many different shapes and sizes, none of which actually include my peers. A 24-year-old female friend is remarkably hard to come by, seeing as most women are married with children and bound to the home by that age. I can always rely on the hoards of children at my school to hang out with me, but its no secret that I’m not a huge kid person.
This is why I love Sunday’s so much – I get to hang out with the coolest ladies in Ethiopia. Each weekend one woman is the designated “server”. Essentially this means that she brings her servant from home to serve her tela that she brewed and some injera and berbere sauce to eat. It’s certainly not the best meal I’ve eaten here, but it’s good snacking. And when there’s no tela? They don’t show up. In my opinion, these old divas have their priorities straight.
Whenever they are at my compound, one of them, usually Yeshi, a retired soldier who salutes me instead of shaking my hand, bangs on my door or simply barges into my room. “Come, play, drink, eat”. I always emerge from my room, usually in some sort of pajama ensemble, and greet them all with handshakes and the traditional three kisses on the cheeks. Even though I probably haven’t showered in days and am still in my pajamas, they never neglect to tell me how “konjo” or beautiful I am. We all sit around, usually outside, drinking and socializing. When more than a quarter of your cup is gone, someone stealthily refills it, so you never know how much you are actually drinking. Our conversations are basic, but they never fail to tell me how “gobez” I am at Amharic, which I know is an outright exaggeration. They question me about America, asking what kinds of food we have, or if I have a boyfriend. When I tell them no, they start naming their numerous sons or nephews who would make great husbands for me. I may not understand the majority of their conversations, but everyone there always makes me feel like a welcome part of the circle. Some Sundays I sit for hours just listening and trying to pick up the bits of their conversations that I can decipher.
I expected to find many differences between America and Ethiopia, so it’s the similarities that I usually find most striking. People are people no matter where you go, and a gathering of family and friends is always a warming thing to be a part of. I am constantly thanking the stars for all the people in my community who have taken me in as a daughter and a friend. And who would have thought that Sunday Funday would have made it all the way to Ethiopia?