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15 February 2015
I woke up with a foggy memory of a scream in the night and some commotion from the girls. They were sharing a double bed while I took the mattress on the floor. No offense, I just don’t sleep well with anyone but my husband, who I spoon and coodle and cuddle and smooch all night. I didn’t want to run the risk of subjecting the girls to that so I took the floor. When I woke up I asked Sandy if I had really heard a scream. She admitted it was her, that she was dreaming of someone touching her only the person touching her didn’t have a torso. As she was scrambling for Adessa, Adessa was also dreaming that people were in the room only in her dream they were friendly and Adessa assured Sandy they “were just trading places”. Then they both woke up and feared there might actually be someone in the room and that they were probably hiding in the closet but when they looked they saw none of the suitcases in front of the closet door had been disturbed so no one could have gotten in there. All this while I snoozed with my mouth wide open, and a good thing. I’ve been watching too much Walking Dead lately and after merkato had already been thinking Addis would be about the worst place on Earth to be during a zombie apocalypse. As Sandy was telling me about it I was already looking for any kind of weapon we could’ve used had there been someone hiding in the closet. I could’ve bludgeoned him with the lamp, or stabbed him with a curtain rod, or cracked a chair over his head. The guy would’ve been a goner, had I been able to come out of my Nyquil-induced stupor. How sexist of me. He/she would’ve been a goner.
Greg’s cousin’s husband’s cousin lives in Addis so Greg’s cousin Katie introduced us by email and he, Gabe, and his wife, Andrea, offered to take us up to Entoto Mountain to walk their dog, Pinto, on Sunday morning. I have to admit, since we planned this trip on such short notice I didn’t learn much about Addis or Ethiopia before coming here so it was nice to get some insiders’ facts and opinions.
Traffic in Addis is completely insane, and Andrea had just the right amount of sass to get by. Intersections are a free-for-all and if someone wants in your lane they just slowly creep into it until you slow down and let them pass. There are a couple of stop lights once you get closer to the city center and amazingly people seem to obey them. On top of cars there are people, everywhere. On the way to merkato we saw a decapitated bull head sitting in the middle of the street. I would love to raise our future babies in third world countries, just so they could learn to survive on the street, and drive anywhere on the planet.
There was a troop of young boys waiting for us in the parking lot who wanted money to watch the car while we walked. Gabe and Andrea picked one out and the rest followed us on our walk. The weather in Addis is famously splendid, aside from the rainy season in June, July, August, and we enjoyed a gorgeous morning under the eucalyptus trees. Back in the late 1800s all the trees around Addis were being cut down for firewood and lumber so Emperor Menelik had eucalyptus planted to make up for the lost trees. Eucalyptus grows fast, but doesn’t allow anything to grow underneath it so erosion is a huge problem, which was evident by the roads we were walking on that looked like they’d become a torrent with the lightest rainfall.
The elevation of Addis itself is 7,726 ft (2,355 m), and I’m not ashamed to admit I was out of breath every single time I walked up the stairs to our third floor room. The summit of Entoto Mountain is just under 10,500 ft (3,200 m) so I’m not ashamed to admit I was panting as much as Pinto on our little stroll.
Lovely views of Addis on the way down. We went to G & A’s house to drop P off while we walked to lunch. I loved getting to see their African home. They had the loveliest of front porches overlooking the loveliest little yard full of flowers and birds. I could’ve spent all day sitting on that porch. I think I would be very lazy if I ever moved to Africa.
For lunch Gabe and Andrea took us to an Ethiopian restaurant between their house and our hostel. It… was SO… GOOD. As soon as we walked away from the restaurant I was already craving more.
Injera- the pancake looking thing. Chechebsa- the orange flaky stuff, covered in yogurt and honey. Shiro- the dark orange chickpea mush. Bir tibs- the beef in the middle. In Ethiopia you eat everything with you right hand, using the injera like the sponge that it is to soak everything up. And coffee is served at any time of day, no matter if it’s 85°f out, piping hot and black. MMMM!
After lunch we walked back to our hostel to enjoy some more Addis sunshine on the roof and brush up on our hemodynamics. We told Cattaneo we’d meet him in the lobby of his hotel at 5:00p. The Sheraton is one of the nicest hotels in Africa, let alone Ethiopia, and we felt like we were on a movie set. We found Wells in the lobby but Cattaneo was nowhere to be seen. After waiting awhile we went to knock on his door which he answered wearing a short little robe, as he had just woken up. He was trying to take a shower but the water wouldn’t turn on. “The nicest hotel in Ethiopia and there’s no f*cking water.” I suggested he try one of the dancing fountains out back.
Wells gave us a tour of the grounds while Cattaneo got ready. I’ll give it one thing- the Sheraton does have a lovely pool. I could’ve spent all day sitting by that pool. I think it’s the sun that makes me lazy. We’d already seen one wedding couple come through the lobby, then we found the grand ballroom set up for theirs or another couple’s wedding. Adessa fancies herself a wedding expert and she estimated the wedding set up in the ballroom would’ve cost around $500,000. The flowers alone she thought would’ve been around $200,000. I don’t know anything about wedding flowers, but even I could see they were outrageous. The difference in money here is amazing. All this luxury inside the hotel, but just outside the gates is real poverty. Speaking of poverty, Cattaneo treated us all to dinner, along with Doug and Jen, the anesthesiologists. I had a veal bacon burger with a fried egg on top. It was mediocre. Went outside after dinner to witness another wedding party, every couple taking turns to dance on camera. I’ll tell you what, mister, these Ethiopian women are gorgeous. After visiting Tallinn I thought Estonian women were the most beautiful women on the planet, but the Ethiopians put them to shame. Every one of them could be a part time model, or an air hostess in the 60s.
Cattaneo and Wells made sure we were safe in our taxi before going back inside the hotel. Obviously those two have daughters at home. Our taxi was a Mercedes. We felt like queens.
To be continued!