Pleasant lakeside town with an interesting fish market.
On the eastern shore of the Rift Valley is Awassa, a pleasantly modern town next to the lake of the same name. This part of the country seems a whole lot more affluent than the western side of the Rift Valley, or the South Omo River area, or some of the Northern Ethiopia areas. Houses were bigger, and better constructed, clothing seemed of better quality; there was actually a lot of traffic on the road, something we haven’t seen for a while; a much greater variety of vegetables and fruit was on offer in the markets. A striking difference, people seem to be more involved in agriculture, and a lot less in cattle herding, and wealth is not counted in heads of cattle, but in how much money you earn. Which is perhaps why so many people seemed to work so hard, here, making a living for themselves. It is partly geography, no doubt, wooded country side and undulating hills, even steep mountain slopes, with a lot of vegetation, clearly receiving more than the Ethiopian average in terms of rain. But people’s mentality must have something to do with it, too.
The biggest draw in Awassa itself is the fish market, colourful in a genuine way, not in the first place a tourist attraction. But other elements, like excellent Italian restaurants and comfortable accommodation, also help to make this a nice place for an overnight stay.