|Title:||the coffee ceremony|
|Location:||gonder, ethiopia (2236 m)|
|Text:||53 236 kilometres on the road
i was sitting in a dark room watching yangus prepare popcorn on a tiny charcoal stove on the floor in front of me. muffled laughter from a table football came in faintly through the half opened door which allowed a thin blade of sunshine to cut sharply through the dust. there was no other source of light.
to my right side on the dusty sofa sat theodoros, a deaf child, and on the left was yohannes, a boy of eight years. one had come with me to translate, the other out of curiosity. yangus had just started the traditional coffee ceremony to which i had been invited. officially this was a sign of gratitude for having given her work as a nurse after my accident in february. i was quite sure, however, that i would be presented with some request in the end; probably support money for schooling or similar. i didn't mind.
after the popcorn was finished yangus started to roast dried coffee beans in a little pan. it looked as if it had been made from an old can, with a handle attached, but it was impossible to tell as it was blackened with smoke. the smell was overwhelming and reminded me of my childhood when my way to school passed a coffee roastery. every couple of minutes someone would enter the room, which served as living room, bedroom and as a kitchen, greet everybody, change some words with yangus and leave without much of a goodbye.
we guys were chatting while yangus sat silently on the floor, first grinding the beans with an iron stick, and then starting to cook the coffee. before pouring the hot brew into tiny cups she put incense and myrrh into the coals and within seconds the room smelled like a catholic church during service. the cooking was repeated three times, using the same beans, with the effect that the coffee became more potent and intense every time. the whole ritual had taken well over an hour and had been touching in its delicacy and simplicity.
"let's go!" the ceremony was finished and as calmly as it had taken place as abruptly it ended - after i promised to finance three months of english courses which amounted to about ten dollars.