Tomorrow is a grim day for Ethiopia’s goat population. Sheep too. And chickens too I suppose. After 55 days of eating a vegan diet, Ethiopian Orthodox Christians are breaking their fast to celebrate Easter. Families all over the country are buying animals. We even had a special meat market on Thursday so that everyone had an opportunity to buy their holiday meal. Boys and countrymen herded their inventory into town for the holiday market. I went to check it out with my friends Thor and GereKidan.
As we approached, we kept passing family after family leaving with their new purchase. Lots of stopping to greet people and compliment their new goat. A steady stream of people headed home, ready for the weekend. When we crested the hill and the market came into view we were pretty surprised. It was huge! This market happens every Saturday, but today it was the biggest I’ve ever seen it. We wandered around checking things out. We weren’t there to buy, just see the selection. A big goat will set you back at least 1500 birr (about 85 USD). A smaller one is 900 birr or so. We wandered around grabbing horns and probing the stock, inquiring about prices. These little guys just stand around in the sun with their herd waiting for someone to buy them. Some of them protest with baying, some futilely head-butt their masters, and some break free and run for their life. When someone buys a goat they have to figure out how to get it home. Smart people bring a rope and walk it home like a pet dog. Some simply carry the smaller animals on their shoulders. Some skilled guys will herd it with a stick and voice commands, traditional style. Some will pick up the hind legs and make the animal wheelbarrow itself home in a hilarious spectacle.
After wandering around the market we stopped into a Sewah bet for some shade and a drink. Sewah the local beer, also referred to as “dirty water”, is hauled in by various home brewers for market days. Women assemble poles and tarps into improvised shelters and set up business selling huge cups of sewah for 2 birr (about 0.12USD). Dudes sit around in the shade and rehydrate for their walk back into the countryside. Or they just socialize and people watch. That’s what we did. We watched boys try to control their rowdy animals, men haggle over prices, and kids run all over playing. There was even one guy feeding the sewah runoff to his new goat. Maybe giving the goat the liquid courage he’ll need to face the knife on Sunday…? I don’t know. After two cups, we moved on.
Ethiopian Easter (Fasika) is tomorrow and will be celebrated by lots of eating and drinking. I’m excited for some meat! One of my friends says, you know you’ve been in Ethiopia too long when you call Tibbs gourmet. But I really am looking forward to some goat meat (Tibbs)! Despite the limited options, I’ve been eating well over the past 6 weeks. Luckily there are some Muslims in town who continue to serve milk and yogurt at their cafes. Also those godless chickens could care less about fasting rules and kept laying eggs throughout. You could even get them cheap because of decreased demand. But with the exception of some milk and eggs I’ve been eating vegan every day for the last 6 weeks. It’s been alright because vegan Ethiopian food is pretty good, but still, I’m ready for some goat meat again!