On the road to Ambover, a once-thriving Jewish village in northern Ethiopia, young children ran beside our vehicle waving and shouting, “Money, money.” From outside the bus window I saw malnourished-looking donkeys carrying heavy loads and mothers with babies tied onto their backs.
We passed houses made of concrete, plastic, tin, or aluminum. There wasn’t any running water or electricity, no modern farm tools, and few vehicles. Several people walked with cumbersome bundles on their heads and backs, some dressed in traditional white robes, making them resemble ghost-like figures, though these apparitions wore rubber shoes and sandals, or no shoes at all. It was a road trip into the distant past for us but a startling peek into the villagers’ present reality.