Ethiopia: Dr Debretsion Gebremichael with Reporter Newspaper
My companion told me that there were metal works in the market, something I was very intrigued about so we set off in the general direction and came across item No.3: the charcoal stove. This is definitely not something you see in the kitchen at home! Kidan had been running the stall for 15 years and sold wholesale as well as to the public. The stoves are made from clay and metal and come in different sizes for different purposes - a small one for burning waste, a medium-sized one for coffee and cooking and a large cooking one. At 300 Birr (@£9) for a big one I was tempted, however I think I would have difficulties sourcing charcoal at home let alone getting it on the plane!
After picking our way through some winding passageways the sound of hammers on metal reached our ears. In a narrow, rocky, downward sloping alley we came across the metal works. In tiny huts on either side of the path men were surrounded by scrap metal which they buy, straighten out with a hammer and brute force and sell on. Each hut is rented by an individual or two who run their own business; the man we spoke to had been doing it for over 20 years. It is a hard, back-breaking and dangerous job and we took care picking our way back up the path avoiding the pounding hammers, and metal rods sticking out everywhere threatening to trip us up.
It was almost time to go and on our way back to the main road we came across a woman selling rope made from banana leaves, something I’ve never seen before. Maraganesh was from the South and every Monday and Friday she receives a delivery from her village. She sells the rope to people who sell gypsum, who mix the two together to make plaster used in house building. The rope can also be used inside mattresses and she was also selling the banana leaves themselves, which can be used for cooking.
I was sad to leave as I’d had an interesting and exciting morning and could have explored further, I’m not sure the same could be said for my companion who seemed relieved to be on our way.
My experiences at the Mercato will forever stay with me and I wonder what it will be like in 20 years’ time; whether it will be the vibrant and diverse place that exists today...who knows, I may be back to find out!