An Ethiopian Diary: Day 6

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Our new neighbor in Tum

Off the grid, in a remarkably rural and enchanting place. We are permitted to be here due to our friends Caroline and Jane Kurtz. This place is a part of them, and through them we are able to experience something few tourists ever get to experience: a place untouched by tourism.

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Many baboons and other monkeys along the road

Because of this, we are roughing it. No electricity. No running water. But at night, I hear the crickets, a few barking dogs and little else. The days are filled with the sound of birds and cowbells chiming in the distance. It’s magical. Again, I find words fail me.

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Coffee plants in bloom …

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… and a tea plantation. Caffeine needs are met in this region!

Waking up, we do as we did the night before: We chase the sun, walking in the fields as the sun rises. We’re humbled by the hard-working farmers, up and at it already.

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Pound coffee farmer from Kaffa

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The farmer’s and new friends’ cattle

We are invited into a hut or two, but realize it’s time to find our group and have breakfast — then, Maji. High on a mountain top, so completely enchanting. Pine trees mix with eucalyptus, and the sweet smell fills the air … the crisp, precise air of high altitudes.

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A shepherd far too young, with a face to melt your heart

 

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Kiddo’s joy!

We wait for the sun to warm us on our high perch and get the blood flowing for the energy we will need to create. And create we do. We paint, a little short of breath. Is it the beauty or the altitude — or a little bit of both? Everywhere you look is paintable. And nowhere is there a tourist in sight.

 

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Incredible terraced tea plantation

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The beauty of the countryside

This is one of those anomalies of modern life, a place untouched by those of us who want to roam, and experience something special, something different from our everyday life. I have found this in Maji; I have definitely found heaven. A place not elsewhere at all, but right here, right now.

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Peekaboo in Kaffa

I think as the day draws to a close we all have that feeling of walking on air, of being a part of something truly unique. We feel lucky, and our creative wheels are spinning.

And so we paint, and …

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A beautiful sunset to cap off the day

 

About Stephanie Schlatter Art

Stephanie Schlatter is an Artist who draws from the world for inspiration. While she calls Grand Rapids, Michigan, home she’s often off on new adventures. For more than a decade, her journeys have taken her across the globe. She has studied art both locally and abroad, including time in Mexico, where she decided to shift her focus from photography to painting. Stephanie's travels led her to found Absolutely Art: A Project for Change in 2006. Through this non-profit organization, she brings art instruction to the children of Ethiopia while supporting their education. Stephanie's work reflects an expression influenced by other cultures which resonates a variety of influences that have given her work direction.

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