Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ethiopia: Back to Gonder: The African Massage, The Wave, and a Wedding

Tim and Liz, the British couple, arranged for a ride back to Gonder via minibus. Although very (very) pricey, I was willing to kick in on the ride as an antidote to: a) getting up super early for the return public bus; and b) the sardine-pack conditions of the public bus.

The ride back to Gonder seemed bumpier than I remembered on the public bus, so maybe there is a cushioning effect to the pack-em-in method of same. The minibus driver called the washboard road the "African massage".

The ride back to Gonder in the minibus, carrying only the Ethiopian driver, me and the two Brits, emphasized the disconcerting "faranji effect". Children invariably waved as we approached and passed ('course, they may do this for any vehicle that goes by). One sweet girl, carrying a large load atop her head, risked everything tumbling down in order to free an arm from her balanced pack in order to wave. Sure, sometimes they're yelling "money" or "birr" or whatever, but regardless, it's a wave that I think deserves a respectful wave back -- a recognition of each kiddo.

The disconcerting part is the odd sense of celebrity, completely unwarranted except that we look different than the majority here. On the other hand, our differentness just makes it easier for the adult entrepreneurs to identify us as easy prey for the cheerful, even charming, fleecing we undergo as an Ethiopian rite of passage.

Met Belay for a coffee, then I spent about an hour in the internet cafe entering a couple of daily logs, catching up on email and Facebook.

Took a tuktuk (bajaj) up to Goha Hotel to take in the pretty view again. What!? A wedding reception going on - live music and dancing! Bridal party colors in white, tangerine, and blood-red orange. My impression was that attendees included friends and family from Canada and the U.S. Great fun to watch and clap and toe-tap along to the music.

My intent had been to return to the internet cafe, but instead I ran into Enoch and we went to dinner at the restaurant called L-Shape. Loud music; dark interior. But good music - a mix of old American R&B + Ethiopian music. We had tibs + quanta. Very good. Discussed the usual intercultural stuff such as economics and social mores.

Arrived back at my very comfortable room at Lodge du Chateau. Took a hot shower, laundered my underwear in the sink, and popped into bed with a book.


Geoff Reed said...

The Lodge du Chateau is certainly inviting. From an US perspective, the prices appear reasonable. Now doubt difficult to make comparisons. None-the-less, a spectacular place.

Mzuri said...

The lodge was a bit of a splurge when I was in Gonder in 2011, but the cost was nowhere near the $45 for a single room I see quoted on the website now. I spent an average of $40 per day TOTAL, which included lodging, meals, and in-country transportation (and this takes into consideration my low expenses when I stayed in Nazret).