Chat and Shisha are strongly rooted in Ethiopia at this time. Men in their mid-20's early 30's socialize and talk business in Chat houses. Women are often present on Friday or Saturdays but seldom during the week. It us utilized much like the after work drink we have here- only lasts another hour longer than in our culture because unlike us most men in this age range have not yet started their families.
The first time you see chat being chewed it will remind you of sheep or goats eating leaves. You literally sit on pillows on the floor of a building and pick leaves off the branches of a plant, flick the dirt off them (or flick the imaginary dirt- which ever) and then tear it off the branch and chew on it. Once all chewed up you stick it in the corner of your mouth- like dipping tobacco, and then add another one into your mouth. Some folks swallow it- others suck all of the juices out of it over an hour or so and then spit it out. You'll also notice what an incredible mess it makes. Branches, empty coca cola bottles and bags on the floor of the place you are seated. *(in fact you will be amazed as an American how messy Ethiopian Men are- In the end I associated it with it being a servant based culture- but seriously- if you want to be very proud of your husband- visit an Ethiopian family for a while and watch the men-giggle- it will make that toilet seat discussion you've been having for years seem quite trivial).
The Shisha is much like the Hooka here. The difference- Ethiopia and other countries seem to use the name of the type of tabacco used to smoke- where we've adopted the name of the bong used to smoke it with. So- in Ethiopia the Shisha is different than here because the tabacco is more harsh (at least from the one time I tried it here) and the mixture is more fruity. Shisha was enjoyed mostly by the women on the weekends in the chat houses- and although men seem to enjoy it as well- it was really a girly thing. But - remember this was just my experience and I'm sure with as diverse at this country is- there are different experiences for everyone.
Most people (men) seem to chew chat at one time or another growing up in Ethiopia (remember it's legal). The high is in some ways like caffeine but stays with you for a long time. Most individuals had a couple of beers late in the evening so they could counter the affect of the chat and could sleep that night. It is less accepted in the larger cities and more popular as you get away from them. It's a way of life in Dire Dawa and Harar so much so that the stores close for 3 hours in the middle of the day so folks can actively participate in it. The men go and change into long skirts that are made of cotton and during the heat of the day sit in their homes with high ceilings and enjoy chewing chat with their friends. It's actually built into the lunch time of that culture-but in Addis it is more an after work social affair. There are different kinds of chat leaves as well- each plant providing it's own "merch-ana" or high..
The days on the long road of one families Ethiopian Adoption
This blog started out as a way to record the twists, turns, highs and lows in my families journey to adopt siblings from Ethiopia. Now our children are home and we have just finished celebrating our first year as a family.
I'm Kimberly (or Fendesha), an adventurous person who aspires to be a vagabond- but for now- I spend all of my free time travelling and my down time thinking of travelling. I'm a mom of 3 (the oldest being my gorgeous canine companion), a IT project manager, and on occasion I find myself the primary writer of this blog.
Happy Reading and thank you for stopping by.