A Story in Ethiopia

Following the goat up the wet and weary cobblestone incline, she breathes in the musky smell of discarded fruit peels, chicken shit and sweat. Although alarming, the smell has a particular kind of intimate human scent that she enjoys. Eyes to the ground, she worries about slipping on the slimy hand crafted cobblestones and food waste at her feet.

Women in bright colours look over her, men with scheming eyes meet her gaze. The goat scampers into a nearby school and she stops to get her breath.

It doesn’t come.

It feels like she is in water up to her chest. Her breathing is only half-full. She turns and looks back the way she has come. Something glints in the hazy light. She sees a small beaded necklace amongst the rubbish. She stoops to pick it up. It is bright and un-symmetrical, made from plastic beads coming together in a loop and then falling in a line down the middle. She brushes away the mud on her skirt and pulls it over her head. A man walks past and smiles when he sees it on her. A young girl with a baby on her back walks past and her eyes pop out when she sees it.

A little alarmed, she decides to find her way back to the hotel. The rain gently sweeps over the streets of Harar in a fine mist.

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