29 October 2012

Lalibela Pt. 2 - Ben Abeba for dinner

Ben Ababa  © Rob Augusta
Susanne, the owner of the restaurant

Afework Seifu - Rob and Syndey's guide

Ben Ababa © Rob Augusta
Ben Ababa by night © Rob Augusta
I was so excited to check out Ben Abeba for dinner. We met up with Richard at his hotel 7 Olives, which has a beautiful garden, and walked over. Richard was amazed that we were attracting the attention of many of the locals on the road. He kept saying he was tired of being so interesting. This only really happens to you if you are nice and open in Ethiopia.

Ben Ababa deserves more explanation. We met Susanne, the owner, at the entrance. She is a Scott and Richard being a Scott, they got on immediately. She was so amazingly out of place, yet right in place with what she is doing - the restaurant only being open one year. She came to Ethiopia as a teacher and decided to stay on and invest in her retirement. She has a young Ethiopian man as a partner and she started this restaurant. She is training her staff (something very valuable in Ethiopia), still teaching voluntarily on Saturdays, and promoting local artists. She has big plans to expand - is currently building showers and bathrooms for her staff, plans to build a small hotel, and plans for a store in which to sell local handicrafts.

The design of the restaurant came from two local boys. It is one of the coolest constructions I have been in or on, since there isn't much 'in'. The place consists of these platforms where there are tables and chairs, each one with an amazing view of the open landscape in all directions around. You are perched on a mountainside. She brought us to an area lower to eat because of the wind. She built us a big ole bonfire, gave us gabis (warm Ethiopian blankets) and we enjoyed Ethiopian cuisine and proper chips. I did return back there on my own the following week and tried a shephard's pie which was delicious as well. Our guides joined us. We enjoyed an amazing night there with good conversation and laughter, under a blanket of stars. One of the most romantic spots in the world.

Stars at night put on a show for free