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Addis to Aswan

Freshly showered and wearing my last clean scraps of clothing, I walk into the chill-out room at the home of our host in Addis Ababa.  Several friendly faces turn, and after meeting everyone, I sit down amidst matresses and pillows.  The one woman in the room besides myself puffs on her sheesha, decides it is time for fresh tobacco and sets about the process of cleaning and reloading the water pipe.  I notice several bottles of coke and water as well as a few bundles of leaves which the company is slowly consuming.  Our host passes me one such bundle, too big to fit both my hands around it and says, "start chewing."  This is chat, an integral part of the Ethiopian way of life and an ideal way to see the social side of Addis.  It is a mild narcotic and not only legal, but sold everywhere in Ethiopia.