Awassa showed me the best side of Ethiopia.
My couch surfing friend Yared hosted me. I was lucky to find him as he is a great guy, he took me around the city and he gave me an insight of the NGOs in Ethiopia, as he works for one himself.
First we visited one side of the lake, where the fishers come with fresh fish that you can taste at the market on the site.
I tried the row fish which I wasn’t fond of, but the cooked one with a maize-based kind of bread was great. It was interesting to have this for breakfast but it is common in Ethiopia to have for breakfast dishes that we would consider lunch or dinner, like pasta for example.
Then we visited another side of the lake just a walk away. It was full of storks on either side. Here we took a short boat trip to the middle of the lake, and then had a coffee at one of the restaurants facing the lake.
I asked Yared if there is a higher risk of Malaria in this area because of the lake, but he explained that they put some chemicals in the water so that the mosquitoes cannot reproduce thus Ethiopia has a very low risk of Malaria nowadays. The second time we went to the lake we enjoyed the sunset.
The first impression of Awassa was very good, but not only because of the lake views and food. The streets look more clean than in other cities I’ve seen so far, and more organized. There are many avenues with two lanes on each track and palm trees in the middle. All centered at the cathedral. This is because Awassa developed very fast in the last couple of decades, so the urbanization of the city was planned.
We had lunch at the Heile Resort, owned by the famous Olympic runner Haile Gebrselassie.
Still, also in this city many children in the street ask for money. Yared tell me that there are so many beggars in part because the religion says it’s good to give to the poor, although not all of those children are poor, some of them have a house and family to take care of them but they see the possibility of getting extra money when they see a tourist.
In Awassa I started to see how religious Ethiopian people are. I witnessed this when I went up to the Hawassa Tabor Mountain Park.
The main religion of Ethiopia is Orthodox, but on this region it’s Protestant. People come up this hill to pray alone or in groups. They recite, sing, and even shout to God and Jesus.
It’s a beautiful, peaceful place with perfect views of the city and lake all around.
I think I could live in this city. Nevertheless, I keep travelling. There is so much to see in Ethiopia, you won’t be disappointed.