Birds eye view of “Weyiba Tis..” in Ethiopia today

I visited the Afar tribe in Ethiopia a year ago. My local guide, Firew, led me into a small, dim reed hut where I could make out a baby lying on a stick and goatskin bed and a hole in the ground with smoke rising from it from a smoldering fire. The mother of the baby wrapped herself in a blanket and sat over the smokey hole. This struck me as odd. “What is she doing?” I inquired of Firew. “She’s smoking herself,” he replied, as if it weren’t obvious.
We now travel to see differences, and I am always up for a cultural experience that will take me a little outside of my comfort zone. As a result, a year later, I found myself in an Ethiopian beauty parlor with my all-women Venus Adventures tour group, waiting for a traditional “butter massage.” My Ethiopian friend Felekech had called me while we were driving and recommended it to me – she goes once a week – so I asked her to make a reservation for us. It sounded unique – and intriguing! We were led upstairs in groups of three, stripped naked (get those knickers off, you shy Westerners!) and sat on plastic-covered massage beds. We were then treated to a 45-minute massage from head to toe by beautiful Ethiopian attendants, albeit with butter (which smelled and felt strange!). There was much giggling and remarks about how we looked like basted turkeys. We stood up naked after the massage (except for a coating of butter, of course – a bit strange I know, but you get used to it). The attendant wrapped plastic bags around my feet and hands… She then placed a dollop of butter on my hand and pointed to my genitalia.

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