Rounding the bend, in more ways than one
Just a couple of more days here. Whether I can make it without going totally native, or totally berserk, remains to be seen.
Sunday was going fine. We were sightseeing to the south of Addis, and it was quite a change. There is tremendous industrial growth in that direction—the Chinese are building steel mills, pharmaceutical plants, many factory facilities you just can’t identify from the road. The good news is that this is great for the economy, the bad news is the bucolic countryside we enjoyed last week is gone—the sides of the roads are filthy with trash, nobody comes out to wave, there aren’t any oxen plowing.
We visited an area where there are 5 small volcanic lakes. There are also resorts and pleasant places to spend an afternoon or a honeymoon. We visited one, Salayish Lodge & Park, run by Alu, who had lived for 23 years in Alexandria, VA, remodeling houses. He came home to his native land, and built a delightful resort where you can get your own bamboo house, with American style plumbing, room service, a lovely lake view and the company of his menagerie of ducks, chickens, dik-diks, goats and rabbits, for $20/night.
One of the little virtues of the place is the home-brewed moonshine, araki. They make it right there in front of you. We also tried their fried fish for lunch, and it was just right.
So the day pleasantly went, until my travel insurance company called and said my bags were at the airport. We had the driver drop me off, and things weren’t going well when I couldn’t get him to go the right part of the airport. Finally, he just stopped the truck and wouldn’t move, right in the middle of the parking lot. I still don’t understand it, but I just grabbed my camera bag and walked the rest of the way.
“Bags? We don’t got no bags. We don’t need no bags. We don’t have to show you any steenking bags.” Ethiopian Air, replaying The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, didn’t have my luggage and denied ever saying that they did.
Leaving the airport in high dudgeon, I tried to get a cab back to Mr. Martins Cozy Place. There are a few yellow cabs here, it turns out, but they seem to only be at the airport. The first driver I found claimed he knew where I was going, and the rate would be $10. Since the correct rate is more like $5.00, and this was just a rip-off of the white guy, I made a few comments on his education, ethics and heredity, and found another driver.
I’d had it. Couldn’t take another night at Mr. Martins. Gathering my clean shirt and computer, I headed out for the Hilton, the sojourning American’s home away from home.
Part of my plan involved 40 minutes in a hot shower. Part of my plan included playing cards with Gail on Bridge Base. The first part worked, the second part not so much.
There is a 10 hour time difference, so 7 pm here is 9 am in Lafayette. I called Gail at 6:30 and set up the game. At 6:45, I signed onto BBO, saw that Gail was on, and joined and paid for the tournament. At 6:58, my computer crashed as I was closing all non-essential programs to avoid crashing.
Frantically re-booting, I called home and told her to start with a sub, and I’d get there.
So it re-booted. Then I rejoined BBO. Great. I’d be back in for board 2. Then the Hilton internet system burped, and I got disconnected. Got back on. BBO now told me I had been removed from the tournament.
And that was the end of that. The best laid plans of mice and men and all that.
So I watched Deadliest Catch, which has a strange Scottish narrator in the international version. Took the long shower, had a decent room service dinner, slept in a non-lumpy bed. Got a shock to see myself in the mirror—Mr. Martins doesn’t have one big enough to do more than comb your hair. I have more insect bites than I could possibly have imagined, which at least explains the itching.
Another great shower this morning. The gang came and collected me, and we went back to AHOPE to hand the mobiles we created from the gourds the kids painted last week. Erik tried manfully to keep the kids from playing with the gourds, but it was not to be, He seems to think that they should respect the art, the kids think they are colorful and hanging right in front of them and make good toys. Guess who won that battle.
We’re going out tonight to dinner with Sam Tesfaye, Erik’s Rotarian connection here. Maybe my bags will arrive just in time for me to take them home.