Monday, May 27, 2013

Jima Bus Station

Outside the gate and in the light, Jima’s bus station doesn't look so bad.  But you're likely to only interact with this place in the morning hours where you’d rather be anywhere else, fighting your way through a crowd for something greater than a bus seat.   

There are few places that I have dreaded going to within Ethiopia but bus stations make up the majority of them.  Jima’s bus station in particular is a difficult bus station to like because – for me- it represents the approaching, groggy hour of having to wake up before sunrise, haul baggage down a dusty or muddy road, a long wait in a crowded and poorly lit area until the station’s gate opens, and, when that gate opens, preparing for the rush of flying elbows and baggage of people aiming to get through inflexible gate posts.  

If you're traveling by bus and taking public transport to/from Central Ethiopia and Ethiopia's Southwest, you'll likely be passing through here.   

Justin Bieber's painted portrait seems to like the avocado juice served in Jima’s bus station cafe.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tree Profile: Millettia Ferruginea

Man climbs Millettia ferruginea to check on seed maturity

Exploding pods releasing seeds of fish poison?  This is Millettia ferruginea.  In Ethiopia, people refer to it as birbirra.  Millettia ferruginea is endemic to Ethiopia and Ethiopians have known for some time that its seeds (when crushed and dumped upstream in a river) can stun or kill a lot of fish at one time.  Another interesting fact about Millettia ferruginea is that when its seed pods have dried, they blow apart and send their seeds flying.    

Exploded seed pod and immature seed pod of Millettia ferruginea

But this tree has other benefits besides.  Agroforestry practices have pegged Millettia ferruginea as a tree providing animal fodder, firewood (the dried pods burn just as well), charcoal, posts for construction or fences, mulch, nitrogen for the soil, shade for coffee, and beauty. 

Millettia ferruginea can be observed growing in a variety of climates but thrives between 1,000 – 2,500 meters above sea level.


A Selection of Ethiopia's Indigenous Trees: Biology, Uses and Propagation Techniques - Legesse Negash

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Common Head Turner #7

Demolition by hand and hammer, Addis Ababa

Condominiums as far as the eye can see in Hayaat, Addis Ababa

Demolition and construction are common sights in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.  Shops are being torn down and new roads, water ways, condominiums, train rails, and bigger businesses are opening up.  What will Addis Ababa look like in 10 years?  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Shrub Profile: Rosa Abyssinica

The Flower of Rosa Abyssinica

Rosa abyssinica (also known as the Abyssinian rose) is indigenous to Ethiopia but can be found in Arabia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudean as well.  Rosa abyssinica produces large, fragrant flowers and small fruits, which can be eaten.  This beautiful shrub grows well between 1,700 and 3,300 meters and can thrive in areas with little or great amounts of rain fall.

Rosa Abyssinica in Addis Ababa

Beyond their beauty and edible fruits, Rosa abyssinica offers itself as firewood, medicine (flowers, roots, and fruit), and live fencing (when grown close together along a boundary).


Useful Trees and Shrubs of Ethiopia: Identification, Propagation and Management for 17 Agroclimatic Zones - Azene Bekele-Tesemma

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Common Head Turner # 6

A woman carrying something enormous on her back.  

Firewood, dry grass, water, pottery.. in the rural areas, this is all transported on the back of women.