We celebrated my new and improved birthday by eating at the Addis Sheraton. I had read this was a world-class hotel, but I didn't think it would actually be so sumptuous. It could grace any city in the world and still be luxurious. I was stunned when we arrived and toured the premises. I couldn't imagine staying there, though--coming and going through the considerable poverty to reach the guarded gates of the hotel. It was surreal to encounter it, though we thoroughly enjoyed our meal and were glad to be there.
That meal wasn't the only culinary highlight of our visit, however. On our last day in Addis, two of the guys from our church there took some of us out for coffee and an evening at the Ethiopian Cultural Center. We ate traditional Ethiopian food, watched an Ethiopian band and dancers, and then enjoyed an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, complete with incense. Solomon and Yared were our amiable hosts, explaining the customs and laughing graciously at our mistakes.
Though I don't miss the pungent scent of the incense, I do miss the smooth taste of Ethiopian coffee. It definitely was one of my highlights! Fortunately, whenever I crave Ethiopian food or coffee, I do not have to go far. I've been told the Washington, D.C. area contains the largest concentration of Ethiopian people outside of Ethiopia. Injera, anyone?
(Photos: The video crew--me, Drew, John David, David, and Andrew--gather for dinner; the Addis Sheraton; a coffee ceremony; Solomon and Yared.)