“You! YouyouYOUyouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!” There is a reason every travel report from Ethiopia comes back with the same general complaint. The call of the youcalls (a nickname coined by Russian hitchhikers late in the last century) will ring in your ears the entire stay in the country. Farangas are rare in most of Ethiopia and they seldom stop to socialize (which I am always happy to do), especially if they are in their own vehicle. When one does stop, children, and more rarely teenagers, will flock to you, screaming for your attention, just because they simply have nothing better to do and also, yes, because there is always a chance they will get something. As fit for the African pattern, they don’t know what they want so will ask for what they know the English word for, like “pencil” or things they expect you to know, like Highland – the local brand of bottled water. The faranga is a known money bag, so screaming “Money!” is almost mandatory as well. If they bring out the issue of cold hard cash, I simply stretch out my empty hand and say “OK. Give me.” It’s all a game. An annoying game, like holding a finger a millimeter in front of a person’s nose and repeating “I’m not touching you”, but nevertheless a game.
Amazing how even a two year-old, who barely knows his own name, knows to let out a piercing “you” screech, that will be heard over the sound of your engine a mile away. I tried explaining to the older and English-speaking youcalls how rude and unpleasant their shrill outbursts are, but calling out “ante” (you in Amharic) to get somebody’s attention, is absolutely acceptable in rural Ethiopia, so my efforts to minimize the noise pollution in this country are so far futile.
Born in Ukraine, raised in Israel, and acquiring her higher education in the US, Sarit Reizin is proud to call herself a citizen of the world. However, to stay worthy of the title, she felt a nomadic lifestyle was in order, and in November 2005 left the comforts of the first world with no desire of coming back any time soon. http://HopStopTravel.com