When Brenda Yager is not commuting between her homes, one in Geneseo, another in Chicago and a third in Alexandria, Va., she is satisfying her passion of traveling to far and distant lands.

When Brenda Yager is not commuting between her homes, one in Geneseo, another in Chicago and a third in Alexandria, Va., she is satisfying her passion of traveling to far and distant lands.

After retiring from the federal government several years ago, she is pursuing what she loves “my music (piano and organ) and travel.”

Some of the items from her trip to Ethiopia in 2016 will be featured in a display that opens Sunday, Sept. 17, and will conclude on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at RutabagA, The Heart of Regional Art, at 108 North State St., Geneseo. Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday.

The ublic is invited to a reception to open the exhibit from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17

Her travels sparked an interest in folk art which she now collects, she said. “I love crafts that are still done in local traditions, particularly textiles and masks and I have a collection of nearly 50 masks along with puppets from various countries.”

Although she found no masks or textiles in Ethiopia, she did return with many interesting items that will be showcased in the upcoming display at RutabagA, including two large Ethiopian crosses, one brass and one metal; a small crown which can be worn around the neck; a large basket that also can be used as a table for eating; an older basket covered with goat skin that is used as a lunch box; “a first wife necklace;” cow hide top with shells worn by the women of the Hamer and Bana tribes; dress worn by women in the north to attend festival days at church; a Ge’ez book – the original language in their so-called book fore the Ethiopian Orthodox is called Ge’ez and fly whisks made of horse hair.

Many of her collection of photographs also will be on display at RutabagA.

“Ethiopia fascinated me,” Yager said. “It is so diverse and so different from other countries in Africa. The country has mountains, the fertile Rift Valley, beautiful lakes and desert.”

The northern portion of the country is historic, she said, with places and ruins that existed before the time of Christ.

“Many sources believe that one of the Wise Men was from Ethiopia,” she said.

The southern part of the country has various and diverse tribes, “and there are no paved roads, no electricity with the exception of the hotels which have limited generators, and there is no mail service. Times are changing and I wanted to visit before it all changed.

“The cultures and the activities are so different from anything we see in the Western World. While some things are difficult, besides the food, no toilets while traveling, only bushes, low water pressure in hotels and one night a tent, what is disturbing for me is how women, children and animals are treated.”

Yager chose January to travel to Ethiopia so she could be there for the Timkat Festival, which happens on Jan. 19 of each year.

“I was in Addis Ababa, the capital, on that date,” she said. “The Ethiopian Orthodox church believes the original Ark of the Covenant resides in Axum in the northern part of the country. There are replicas of the Ark in every church.

“It is brought out on that date and paraded through the cities and towns,” she said. ‘In Addis they closed down a four-lane highway for people to march behind the Ark. The women usually wear white dresses with colors of the Ethiopian flag – red, gold and green. Addis also has the largest market in all of Africa, no one knows how large it is but some say it takes up well over one square mile. One can buy spices, clothes, jewelry, food, tools, boxes and there is even a recycling area. Many shoes are made out of old tires.”

She traveled to the northern part of the country which is known as the historical area and visited the cities of Bahir Dar, Gondar, Lalibela and Axum.

“My passion is travel,” Yager said. “When I studied in London, I stopped in Ireland on the way. I was going by myself and was a little scared. By the end of the trip, I was sorry it was over and I had to come home.”

She has been to more than 100 countries and islands and has flown around the world on two occasions.

“I love the history, beauty of places in western culture in the U.S., Canada and Europe, but I am even more intrigued with places that have such different cultures, beliefs and activities then my self…Some places just seem to reach out to me and Ethiopia was one of those places.”