What $100 Buys in... Addis Ababa
A stroll through the market stalls of the Ethiopian capital reveals a mix of ancient ritual and contemporary style.
$5 Letter opener In the southern part of the country, craftsmen whittle wood--usually ebony--into walking sticks and decorative elements for furniture. They carve smaller objects, like letter openers, for tourists. Merkato Mehal Gebeya Hall, Stall 25.
$5 Flip-flops Local sandals are usually made of leather and dried grass, and may be decorated with seashells. If you can't find your size, shopkeepers will often customize a pair to fit. Evangelical Theological College NGO Handicraft Event, Mekannisa Rd.
$5 Cotton wrap Traditionally white with colorful trim, natalahs are worn around the head and shoulders to convey modesty and humility and to provide relief from the blazing sun. Green, yellow, and red stripes represent the Ethiopian flag. Abyssinia Gift Articles Shop, Churchill Rd., 011-251/11-111-9870.
$10 Cross Ethiopian Orthodox Christians make up about 35 percent of the population (45 percent is Muslim). Merkato Mehal Gebeya Hall, Stall 67.
$12 Necklace Handmade beads are a trademark of the Oromos, a once-nomadic tribe that settled in southern Ethiopia in the 16th century. Their necklaces can be found at Stall 67 in the Merkato Mehal Gebeya Hall, an enormous bazaar in the Addis Ketema district.
$15 Bracelet Nickel is one of Ethiopia's most abundant resources--and a favorite metal for jewelry. This 100-year-old cuff, known as an ambar bracelet, is from the northern town of Weldiya. Merkato Mehal Gebeya Hall, Stall 73.
$20 Bottle Tej, a wine made from fermented honey, is ubiquitous in homes and cafés. It's served in a vase-like brillie. To drink, hold the neck in the crook of your index and middle fingers, palm facing up. Shumeta Leda, Churchill Rd., 011-251/11-111-9961.
$25 Pillow Elaborate tribal hairdos require a special pillow--known as a trass--to protect them. Predictably, it's not very comfortable to sleep on, but as a bonus the trass doubles as a stool for clan meetings. Merkato Mehal Gebeya Hall, Stall 216.