Sunday, November 7, 2010

Barta Waterfall

Many natural treasures are to be found close to Bonga: natural bridges, waterfalls, wild coffee growing in the forests, panoramic views. All you need is good walking boots and the desire to walk in the presence of one or more local guides, who are the heart of the landscape. Exploring Bonga and the Kafa region without them would be not only unimaginable, but also devoid of any fun. A helping hand and their good spirits are the locals’ greatest gift!

Barta Waterfall can be reached after a 45 minute-walk through a mild scenery of green forests, pastures, small rivers to be crossed and, at the right moment of the season, red, refreshing wild strawberries to cheer you up during the trip.

enjoying by Jan Schormann

playing by Jan Schormann

The foamy Milky Way by Jan Schormann

Once you are faced with the image of the falling water, you get a first incentive of how surprising the area is: an impressive view combined with the feeling of coziness and familiarity. When you get close to the waterfall, the wind quickly blows the sparkling water onto your traveler’s outfit. This refreshing shower also touches the beautiful flowers near the waterfall, making them shine to the delight of the beholder, be it a professional photographer or just a nature-lover.

Flower near waterfall by Jan Schormann

In the sunny days you can also meet youngsters around the waterfall, in search for a place to enjoy the sun and the closeness of water. Don’t be shy, because they will gladly share the landscape with you. If you are a girl, the young boys would be more than thrilled to have photos with you; if you’re a man equipped with a camera, they will become discreet but helpful assistants of your activity.

We also took some photos of the Barta Waterfall with a long exposure time. Sometimes I find these images a bit too artificial for my taste, but this time I couldn’t escape making comparisons: the whiteness of the foamy water reminded me of the white textiles the Kafa women wear around their shoulders. The falling water, seen through the lens of the photographer, resembles a bride’s wedding veil, or a foamy Milky Way that dared to exchange night for day.
Nature in Kafa bears strong roots to the sky above and the people of the place...

The Rainbow

Wild coffee by Jan Schormann

Wild coffee II by Jan Schromann

In the forest
Coffee enjoys its personal rainbow of colours. It starts at harvest time, with red dots on the background of the green forest.Then, one by one, the beans get inside the brown basket used by the locals for harvesting.

Generous by Ioana Muntenescu

So many reasons to be happy by Ioana Muntenescu

Later on the yellow basket (zambilo in Amharic) will embrace the red, ripe coffee beans on their way home, through the village, to the market.

After drying in the sun on a wide, hand made bamboo bed, the coffee fruits get a more intense red. Soon they will start their journey to special stations where they will be dehulled.
When the peel has been removed they look green again, like in their infancy in the forest.

Lying in the sun by Jan Schormann

The coffee ceremony

The women in the family roast the coffee on a plate above the fire and give it the colour of patience and warmth. The coffee ceremony is a process of getting together, of sharing time, not consuming it. It can also be the right time to make some music: the girls assist the mother, clap their hands and bring on the rhythm of coffee making.
The coffee ceremony is about natural beauty. The ladies of the house pick up flowers and place them around the coffee table, for decoration. The guests enjoy now a private, indoor rainbow of colours.

Coffee Ceremony by Jan Schormann

The dark brown coffee gets much of its intensity by contrast with the white clothes the local ladies wear with genuine elegance. By candle light you have time to recollect for a few moments the journey of the coffee beans: protected by the shaded mountain rainforest, basking in the sun on bamboo beds, roasted on a metal plate inside the tukul…
What turns this daily process into a ceremony, besides the beautiful flowers and the dressing up? It is the generous gesture of offering the first ‘touch’ of the freshly roasted coffee beans to the guest or to the head of the family. This first encounter with the aroma of wild coffee is a gift offered by the ladies, a sign of being welcomed and recognized as a friend.

And then one day when it happens to rain, a rainbow in the sky smiles to all the colours that coffee can take, down there, on the earth of Kafa.

The Rainbow by Ioana Muntenescu 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Princess Haimanut

Porträts aus Kafa, Äthiopien: Happy encounters

Close to home

Sisters on the way home

Dark room, light hearted people

A small encounter

Burtican on drums: the sound of coffee grinding

Coffee ceremony

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Portraits aus Kafa, Äthiopien

Happy mother

The white cloth

Under the blue umbrella 1

Under the blue umbrella 2

Heading home after the Maskal Celebration

Young tailor in Bonga

Saturday, September 11, 2010

“Bonga is closer to the sky”

“Bonga is closer to the sky” Seyoum, our driver, said about the place. And it seemed to be so: the cloud forest was all around us; in the morning you would wake up having the clouds in your garden; when it rained you could see the clouds hovering gently but determined above you; in the evening you drove through the clouds, getting in and out of them.

But Bonga not only seemed to be higher, it was! What puts Bonga in a higher place is the people you can only meet here and with whom you learn to share: spicy meals, strong coffee and good spirits. The Kafa people give you a comforting feeling: the feeling of protection. When somebody holds your hand to help you cross a river, jump over a puddle or walk through gliding mud securely, you feel your feet heavy but your heart light: it’s the effect of companionship! These companions make sure you walk safely, with your feet deep into mud, your head in the clouds and your heart in the right place! Here, in the Bonga cloud forest, it’s only natural – and it happens many times throughout the day – to have your head in the clouds.