Robert Schrader

Bahir Dar’s Dust

"Are you a rasta?" the boatman asked me, as we sped away from the city of Bahir Dar and over Lake Tana, toward its famous orthodox monasteries. Initially, I thought he was joking, but then I ran my hands through my hair and realized why he might've thought that.

Bahir Dar is hot, you see, but also very dusty. My hair was much too long during my Ethiopia trip, which made me sweat a lot more than I otherwise might've done. As my hair dried, the dust coated it, and boom: White-dude dreadlocks.

(Thankfully the priest waiting in front of Ure Kidana Meret, the most beautiful of Lake Tana's monasteries, was less presumptuous. He simply laughed at how startled I became by the hornet's nest over the entrance to the church.)

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