Gursha is an Ethiopian custom equivalent to an embrace between two friends. You take a piece of injera and shiro/tibs/kitfo and feed the other person, symbolizing your friendship. The larger the gursha, the greater the friendship.

I’m usually very uncomfortable with people’s hands in my food (let alone feeding me), but I’ve grown to appreciate the sweet gestures here. Ethiopians seem very comfortable embracing/holding/touching one another at any given time and I’m not sure what to do but smile. They are so affectionate and genuine in their interactions with us, I’m touched.

On Friday, we went to a friend’s house on the opposite side of town (she’s another MPH student from Emory) for dinner by candlelight. The power turned off at 3 pm and didn’t turn back on until the end of the night. It was nice to enjoy the conversation in the dark. I’ve appreciated the simple things so much more since I’ve been here. We stayed pretty late and I ended up ringing one of the hotel managers (turns out he wasn’t even on duty) to ask if he could find us a taxi. (It was really hard to find one on our own.) I felt terrible after the conversation because I think they believed we were in trouble and insisted on picking us up themselves. Apparently we were on the wrong side of town after hours and they were extremely worried. So nice, but we were perfectly safe.

We went to dinner with them the following night and enjoyed local beer (tej) made from honey out of glass that resembled erlenmeyer flasks. The bar was lively with laughter and cheers all around. We were the only franjis in the place – I loved it. I barely drank a fourth of the drink and the alcohol content was minimal. Afterwards, we went to another local place with the best traditional food I’ve had up to date. Unfortunately, I could not hold it down and ended the night with an upset stomach, though it was well worth it.

We spent the next day hiking down Entoto Mountain, the highest peak in Addis and shopping along the local markets on Shiro Meter? Some more WWO folks have come into town and we’re still meeting so many different individuals from all over, all doing remarkable things for mankind. I’m so lucky to cross paths with such interesting people and it reaffirms everything. There are still so many good people in this world. So many.

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