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Rural life in the Ethiopian Highlands

Antoine Tardy

The high plateaux of Ethiopia have been inhabited for thousands of years. Local villages are composed of ‘tukuls’, traditional huts made of stone and dried mud, with thatched roofs.
Every day, villagers walk several miles across rugged terrain to get water, sell their products at the local market, fetch their food or herd their livestock. In the background, the holy city of Lalibela offers an awe-inspiring setting.
At over 3’300m of altitude, plowing a rock-strewn field bare feet for 8 hours a day is exhausting. After 7,000 years of agriculture, the land is tiring out. Famine is an ever-present threat.
The coffee ceremony is one of the most recognizable parts of Ethiopian culture. Coffee is offered when visiting friends, during festivities, or as a daily staple of life. The ceremony is typically performed by the woman of the household and is considered an honor.
In and around Lalibela, illiteracy is an ever-present issue. The majority of people in the area are too poor to send their children to school and are forced to keep them at home to help out.

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