Long road to paradise

The long road. To paradise

My favorite book of recent years is Serhiy Synhaivsky's novel “Road to Asmara”. I`m “stuck with it” for several reasons. First of all, it is good written. And (also, first of all :) - it is about Ethiopia, which I have fallen in love with for a long time, thanks also to coffee and to an incredibly rich, and  extremely interesting history. Well, and of course, thanks to the people (with some of them I even fortunate enough to be acquainted) who embody the history. The “Road to Asmara” realistically (and most importantly - truthfully) describes events in Ethiopia and in the world in the mid-1980s, through the biographies of heroes, linking those events to the present time. The events of the mid-1980s make me even more interested, due to the fact, that it was just the beginning of my “adult” life, when I began to independently realize and analyze what was going on around me.

And now I feel that as events and people in my life overlap with those described in the “Road to Asmara”, the book itself sometimes brings to mind the events and people I have forgotten. That is, figuratively speaking, the book became a kind of gear that was absent, and now, "getting" in my head in its place, brought to the movement some forgotten memories and restored the logic of events. Yes, I may write about it sometime, the events of the book in Harar are 100% consistent with my information from fellow students of 1980th from Cuba, Ethiopia, Yemen and Sudan.

Or here, It is a fresh example of how, after reading the novel, I was "reminded" the Spring 1982, my roommates at the student dormitory (two Sudanese meteorologists, both called Musa) told me, that Sudan was not "building socialism", but many refugees from friendly Ethiopia are escaping from famine death there, where the “socialism construction work” is in full swing, and (as the Comrade Stalin said) «chips fly to the sides». Over the years, this conversation with Sudanese was somehow forgotten. In 2013, 31 years later, I got to Ethiopia. We traveled with a few more coffee travelers in the car,  South direction, to Sidama, Guji, Yirgacheffe. Car was from the rental, rental is not car only, but with the driver. The driver's name is Tekle, not young, lively man, and he speaks English quite well, he wears the team Ethiopia sport-suit and stylish glasses.


On the way, his mobile phone is ringing. A woman's voice asks something there, he answers, the conversation is not long, everyone in the car (there are four of us) can hear it, but no one understands anything. Out of boredom, someone starts to joke:

- O, Tekle, you just departed, but your wife is already calling, asking when will  you return?

- No, the client called.

- What, the handbag in the car forgot?

- No, tomorrow we have a court session, she asked if I would come.

- And what are you suing for?

- She is on trial. And I protect her.

- So, you are a lawyer ???

- No, I'm not a lawyer, but I act in courts when it comes to road accidents.

- So, you have a lot of experience in road accidents ???

- No, the experience in road accident is not much, but I know all this and I am invited to defend people in court. I told her I would not be able to go to court and she said she would ask to adjourn.

Passengers (Americans and I) are viewed each other, opening their mouths in astonishment, with amazed expression on their faces. Many more days we travel with Tekle. Every time we stop to eat or drink coffee, I see that Tekle drinks nothing but water. He also scoffs at his colleague from another car who buys a bundle of khat every day and chews it in the evenings. At first, I thought it was because Tekle appreciates his work, respects the law (because he acts in the courts), and therefore does not use “anything at all” at the wheel. Then, once I asked him about it, he confirmed, that he  drinks fresh water only – “water-totaller”. I started to question him carefully about his life, where he was, how old he was, and gradually had "pulled-out" his story. He lived somewhere near Asmara, the capital of Eritrea. And so in the early 1980s, when he was 10 years old, there began (as he used to call it) the "political and economic problems" and he decided (for a second - at 10 years he DECIDED) to go to work in Khartoum, the capital of neighboring Sudan. He walked 800 km through the desert, in something about a month of time. He suffered from lack of food and thirst, but managed to reach Khartoum. And since then he has been drinking nothing but plain pure water. All this he told me very reluctantly, I had to "pull-out" from him every sentence. He probably thought that it was not worth talking about death from starvation and tough thirsty wandering in the desert to some rich foreigners, because what can understand the people, who rent a car with him for $ 200 a day? What can they understand about the real hunger  to death and real thirst in the desert, where  +55°C ?!

He lived in Khartoum for two years. All the time he was looking for job there, worked on construction, digging, helping someone, begging. During all this time he did not sleep under a roof at night, but only somewhere in cardboard shelter or tents, or even in a clear field, as in Ukraine Cossack song "in the steppe under the willow." He says,  there were many of them and nobody needed them there. The only thing he found useful there, that he learned Arabic. And he was pulled out by an international charity, that hired a plane and took them to Addis Ababa. He has lived there ever since, and his native Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia, after a long and violent war. For many years the border between the two countries was completely closed. And Tekle was only able to visit his relatives after 15 years. His long journey to Asmara turned out to be so long.

The next time I heard about Asmara a few years later, after reading the book of Serhiy Synhaivsky – “Road to Asmara”. In the reading It became more clear, from what “political and economic problems” the 10-year-old Tekle walked 800 km through the desert. These problems were because the young Ethiopian revolutionaries decided to build one socialism and the young Eritrean revolutionaries another. Ethiopian socialism was in its Moscow version, that is, with a sadistic "full package" of international "aid", which included the dictatorship of the communist top, the local version of the Cheka-KGB, complete robbery of the country, murder, tortures, jail, war and artificial famine. Eritrean, however, was not socialism at all. Although, it is not much easier for Tekle, he suffered, but he survived, what we can’t say about the hundreds of thousands of his fellow countrymen who died from famine and war.

 And so, if you have already read here, you probably want to ask: “But the blog is about coffee. Where  is the coffee HERE? "And I will tell you, that coffee is “always here ".

 Earlier this year, we had an Ethiopian coffee from the Ye Genet Mill. The coffee is very good. I even once brought it to the same Serhiy Synhaivsky. He surprised me with his reaction about coffee. It turns out, that for so many years he has not forgotten the Amharic, learned during his Ethiopian odyssey. And immediately he explained: "There is “Genet” meaning 'paradise', so Ye Genet is ' paradisiacal', as the 'Ye' before the noun forms an adjective." Such surprises. But Ethiopia is such a country and its coffee is such that they probably never cease to amaze.

Recently, after tasting fresh coffee from the Ye Genet mill, we decided to buy it again, but did not stay there and ordered also some coffee from the Sasaba mill, located relatively near, in the village of Kercha, run by the same owner, Tsegae Hagos.

Photo (R) of the Trabocca company 

And it turns out that Tsegae Hagos, too, was (absolutely was) involved in those events, when little Tekle was starving and thirsty through the desert, and young Serhiy Synhaivsky was driving Ethiopia's convoys, translating a toast of the Soviet major in Harar for the health of Cuban “Ich-tam-net” (abbreviation-mem of Putin’s lie about absence of Russian militaries in Donbass,  “there are no them there”) , sang with them "Long live the 15th Brigade" of Spanish internationalists and looked at the beauty of Manuella. Tsegae Hagos back in 1977, when he was 18, also did not withstand "political and economic problems" in the war zone between Ethiopia and the Eritrean guerrillas and fled to Sudan. In the same Khartoum, where curly Sudanese Musa, my future roommate in the Odessa dormitory, worked as a weather observer at the airport, and Tekle, the future driver of expensive cars and a court representative on the accidents,   spent two years of his happy childhood, spending nights, slipping near fire at some garbage site. But Tsegae was already much older, smarter, and was able to live longer in Sudan. He spent 15 years there. Returning to Ethiopia in 1992, he traded a little by used cars from the Emirates, and then went to a coffee business.

Photo (R) of the Trabocca company 

And now two of his mills, Sasaba and Ye Genet, in Guji, near Yirgacheffe, produce extremely high quality coffee, both dry and washed.

And the aroma of these coffees justifies their name - it is truly heavenly.


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