Field Recording Trip in the Ethio-hinterlands: Day 10 of 10

January 20, 2015

IMG_2410Ouch. Due to other projects and general negligence on my end, it’s taken me over 2 months to tackle the final episode in this mini-series. Let’s hope things improve from here.

May 20, 2014
Unbeknownst to me, this was to be my final full day on the recording trip. I hadn’t yet booked my return ticket as I needed to get to an Ethiopian Airlines ticket office. I would end up doing this the next day, purchasing the last available ticket on the night flight back to Addis.
We woke up in our pension in Abi Abdi, packed up and aimed our sights on Mekele, the biggest city in Tigray, but not before stopping for a drink at a little park containing a beautiful enclosed garden full of lush, dense vegetation, a little pond and a waterfall. Little did we know that this would be the serene moment necessary to prepare us for what was to come.
We had barely started climbing up the main road to Mekele before it became quickly apparent that we would be in for a wait. Three giant tow trucks were attempting to extract a Chinese dump truck that had fallen into the ravine. Since this was the only direct road to Mekele, we decided to wait it out and watch it all unfurl. Due to a lethal combination of bad machinery, a bit of incompetence here and there, and generally difficult conditions, this whole procedure IMG_2407lasted about an hour and a half. Nuhamin and I had time to go for a hike up the mountain to get a good glimpse of both the attempted clean-up and the stunning views of the Tigray countryside.
The workers were finally able to get the truck stabilized on the side of the road, allowing us to get a move on. As we got within about an hour of Mekele, we arrived in an unassuming town called Hagere Selam where a quick roadside inquiry led to some rapid-fire negotiation and a recording at the bahal derash with 20-odd young energetic Tigrayans. As we set up in a round cement godjo it began to rain, creating a mucky but atmospheric vibe.
IMG_2401About an hour later, just as it was getting dark, the dancers and musicians showed up in full regalia and put on a vibrant performance. It truly was a fantastic way to conclude the musical portion of my trip.

After breakdown, we drove a slightly hair-raising 1.5 hrs through the mountains to Mekele and crashed at Dallas Hotel in the skeevy bus station district.
The next day consisted of me getting my plane ticket, going with the guys to the local university to see about recording musicians there, and then heading to the airport, tired but exhilarated from 10 days of madness. What a journey!


One Response to “Field Recording Trip in the Ethio-hinterlands: Day 10 of 10”

  1. Leo Lyons Says:

    Nearly killed myself attempting that sort of dancing in a restuarant in Lalibela. Gave the locals a good laugh though with much back slapping when I finally collapsed. Great video!

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