After arriving in the ancient city of Axum, Ethiopia, we checked into the YeHa (“Yee Haw!”) hotel. We dropped off our gear and went straight to the marketplace where we immediately met the town’s children/salesmen. They have all kinds of useful things to sell like porcupine quills and rocks…(hmmm…) As no one on our crew had a need for quills or rocks, we did not buy any. This did not discourage our enterprising friends. They must have recognized our sophisticated tastes because the next items up for sale were very ornate Ethiopian crosses. Once they discovered we were fond of them, they must have called their distributor and ordered them in bulk because everywhere we went, they sold and we bought. I was instantly charmed by these children and am very thankful that they don’t live in the U.S. and sell cars or we would all be in big trouble.
We drove 25 minutes outside of town and hiked 40 minutes up a mountain, only to be greeted by the same children/salesmen from Axum who had run barefoot over the mountain to be with us. Unbelievable. Of course they had goods in hand, just in case we needed anything. Once we reached the monastery on the mountaintop, I discovered, being a woman, I was not allowed in. Not to worry; I had the children with me. Only one spoke broken English, so I decided that the best way to communicate was through music. I began singing and much to my surprise, they did not run away! Then, a very important cultural exchange occurred. I offered them a small piece of Americana: I taught them the Handjive and the Hokey Pokey. Since we were celebrating each other’s cultures, they taught me a song and a dance that we in the office refer to as “The Chicken Dance”. This dance resembles a chicken having a muscle spasm. It requires a good deal of agility and some deep heating rub. While I almost threw my back out trying this dance, a good time was had by all.