My son and I have the habit of spending our time at Lake Hawassa on week-ends particularly on Saturdays. My wife is not coming with us because she attends classes on week-ends, but we would have really loved to have her with us. My son loves the lake so much as he started visiting the lake
when he wasn’t even one year old. He likes the water. He likes the birds. He likes the people. He likes everything around the lake. When Saturday comes, he knows it. He wakes up early in the morning and begins talking about the lake. He plans what we will do there. He tells his mom that she would come with us one day when she is free. He doesn’t want to eat his breakfast at home on Saturdays. He says he will eat roasted fish when we go to the lake.
We give a ride to his mother to college and then we directly head to Lake Hawassa. First, we choose a place where we can sit and see the vast lake and observe what is going on there. Then, we sit comfortably and order roasted fish. Until the ordered roasted fish arrives, I and my son engage in some kind of conversation.
My son, with his sweet language explains to me about what people are doing around the lake. He likes asking me questions which I sometimes fail to answer to satisfy his curiosity. He says, “Daddy, can see you? The boat is moving on the lake.” I say,” yea, people are having fun.”Again, when he sees a fisherman who is making dozens of attempts to catch a fish, he says,” Daddy, see there the man is in the water. What is that he is doing? I say, “He is trying to catch a fish.” My son keeps on asking questions about many things and I keep on answering them. Sometimes, he asks me philosophical questions. He asks, “Who made the lake?” I say, “God made the lake.” He asks, “Who is God?” I answer, “God is the creator of everything-human beings, animals, the earth and the sky, the lakes and the rivers.’’ He thinks for a while and asks me another question. “Where does God live?” I say, “Okay, God lives somewhere above the cloud.” He prepares to ask me another question, but in the middle the roasted fish arrives. My son screams announcing the arrival of the fish. Now, we turn all our attention to the roasted fish. I begin feeding my son by carefully picking the part of the fish with no tiny fishbone with it. my loves the roasted fish so much. When he eats it, he never says his belly is full. The part of the fish that is not suitable for Naabeek, I eat it with peppery stew.
As we enjoy the roasted fish, my son tells me to order Mirinda (soft drink) for him. I call on the waiter to bring Mirinda for Naabeek and ‘coca’ for me. Coca, in my son’s language means beer, not the real coca cola we now. Frankly speaking, I don’t have a good taste for alcohol, but occasionally I drink one or two beer. Nothing more. These days, my favorite beer is Walia. I think it is a good beer. It tastes nice. The bottle is beautiful, slim and with a long neck. After we are done with the fish, the mirinda and the beer, we sit happily and see what people do around the lake.
Watching what people do by itself is a real fun for us. We see parents with their children; couples who are madly in love kissing each other so affectionately as they pass by ( they never seem to care about anybody even me and my son ); a very young Ethiopian girl with a very old ‘ferenji’ man and a very young Ethiopian boy with a very old ‘ferenji’ woman (these young people get into relationship with the ferenjis not for love, but thinking of money they will make at the end of the day or just to get VISA via these ferenjis and move to ‘dreamland’ America or Europe); young and beautiful girls wearing shorts carrying a smart phone as big as my son’s exercise book giggling and calling for attention of people around; other girls wearing very short dresses with a high hill shoes having a very hard time to walk, an old man with a walking stick sitting at the corner sipping his jumbo draught; university students drinking their coffee and gossiping about their teachers ; people lining up to travel by boat; people posing for a photograph on the lake side for memory, a cameraman nagging people to take their photo which he says would be printed in ten minutes (that is not true). What I see there makes me smile and sometimes laugh. So does my son. When we get tired of the people, we watch birds with long legs, long beaks and have a kind of sack under their neck. These birds feed on fish. They are not that beautiful to watch, but their unique nature catches our attention for a while.
Indeed, Lake Hawassa is a place where many people like to come to enjoy fresh breath coming from the lake, eat fish, drink fish soup, pose for a photo, travel on the lake by boat and admire the beauty of the lake and the ever green trees around it.
Hundreds of young people in Hawassa City who previously were engaged in theft, robbery and many anti social activities have now formed different associations to develop the surroundings of the lake. These young people are providing a range of services to people who come to visit the big water. They are hard workers investing their time and energy to make the lake a better place. They always make efforts to make sure that visitors go home with a good memory of Hawassa and its lake printed in their mind. They have built beautiful houses around the lake where visitors can stay and enjoy their coffee and beer, drink fish soup, and eat roasted fish. They also give boat services for those who want to travel on the lake with their loved ones and enjoy some moment on the lake, posing for pictures and having fun as the boat floats on the water.
Hawassa Lake feeds all-the people and the birds. I am always amazed by the abundance of fish in the lake. Tens of thousands of fish are caught everyday (in a traditional way), yet the lake never says it has no fish.
When the lunch time approaches, I and my son get onto our motorbike and ride home telling ourselves that we would come next Saturday to enjoy roasted fish, mirinda and coca and most importantly to enjoy what people do there. In case you come on Saturdays (before noon) to the visit the lake, you can find us sitting at the corner having a great time with very little expenses. If you join us there, all your expenses will be on me.