Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ethiopia: Inertia in Awassa, Day 2, Tuesday

Photo credit: "Eliasbeef" at skyscrapercity forum

Got up this morning to no electricity. But the water situation was good. I even had a warmish shower.

I had laundry to be done, but when I asked about the price last night, the staff were unable to give me a figure other than to say it would be anything between 20 and 40 birr.

Yesterday morning (in Dodola) and this morning, I felt inertia creep up on me. Tired of making decisions (where to go, when to go, how to go), having to mentally prepare myself for the daily barrage of hands out, the calls of "You! You!", the frequent attempts to overcharge me; and even the friendly conversation openers from people who may simply be friendly or who may want something I cannot provide, such as a way out of Ethiopia, or just money.

But I remember reading about this inertia in a fellow traveler's blog. He spoke of the need to just get out and go -- to get up and get out there even when you don't want to. This was helpful advice.

So I got up and got out. I went downstairs to hotel registration with two goals: See about changing rooms and to get a firmer answer about my laundry. About the rooms. Well. After looking at other options, I think my flawed-but-OK #104 is the best of the lot. I have a decent view and good air flow through the windows. And the staff will call maintenance to take care of the electricity. And I showed the staff my laundry list and I got a firm price. OK, off to breakfast. A plain but good omelet. A coffee with interesting and not-bad overtones.

A man at the next table struck up a conversation, and we talked for about half an hour. N. expressed a stronger opinion than most on the economic situation in Ethiopia. (Although I haven't yet written up my day with the Italian teacher who's been in Ethiopia for several years, and who has strong opinions of his own.) N's view, succinctly: By pure luck, I was born in the rich country of America and he had the bad luck to be born in the prison that is Ethiopia. It would have been his dream to marry and begin his own family, but like so many other Ethiopians with a job, he has 15 relatives who need financial support from him. It is the dream, he said, of so many Ethiopians, to just escape the hopeless future that is Ethiopia. Despite his pessimism, N. has his own business. He lives in Addis and was in Awassa for business. If my narrative makes it sound as if N. was hostile toward me, that would be unfortunate. He was not. He was merely sharing his reality.

After our bleak conversation, I went back to my room, handed off my laundry to a staff person, and felt pleasantly surprised that my room had already been cleaned and my electricity restored.

I took a bajaj to the lake resort, which turned out not to be on the lake after all (and the bajaj driver and I had a little disagreement about his fare), so I walked down to one which was on the lake. Ah, beautiful. Found a shady table under an umbrella. It overlooked the lake, the birds, and some low-lying mountains across the way. Bliss.

Photo credit: Enkosini Eco Experience
I started with a cold Ambo (sparkling water), then later ordered a sandwich. While waiting for my order to arrive, I heard an exclamation and laughter behind me. I turned and saw a vervet monkey stuffing a roll in its mouth, which it had just stolen from a guest's table!

Later, after I'd eaten (ready to chase any interlopers away), I saw three more monkeys converge on the patio, one with a baby wrapped tightly around its belly.

After spending a lovely mid-day by the water, I began walking back to town. Stopped by a beauty salon, my face desperately needing attention in a couple of ways. The beauty salon, Cari's, didn't provide all that I needed, but the staff could clean up my eyebrows. Two men, one doing and one supervising, "threaded" my brows. They looked great afterward.

Photo credit: GoKulbisGo
Continued my walk and to my left, atop a tree, were 15 giant storks. Huge. One alighted, then disgorged food into the mouths of two gangly "teenagers." I watched, agog. A short walk further, directly before me, another tree filled with storks. Walking underneath (glad I had my hat on), I looked up and counted more than 10 oversize nests. As with the Bale Mountain forest, this was the stuff of medieval fairy tales.

As I arrived at Awasa's piazza area, I began looking for an internet cafe. Bingo. I walked up one floor and entered a room with a bank of PCs. The power went off twice, the spacebar and "n" keys required a hard bang to engage, and several times, the internet connection just spun stupidly until the sullen attendant figuratively kicked something to get it going again. The owner happened in and I took the opportunity to suggest the keyboards be cleaned regularly, delete all the crap off the PCs' desktops, and get rid of all the toolbar crap on his browsers. The reader can imagine how delighted he was to receive my feedback.

"Talked" with Cat briefly, checked my email, and uploaded a long journal entry. Three hours.

It was getting close to dusk when I emerged from the internet cafe and resumed the walk back to the Blue Nile Hotel. I loved the vibrancy of the street -- the dozens of blue bajaj, the pretty Orthodox church in the distance, the hundreds of people walking along both sides of the street, vendors selling their goods, cyclists competing with vehicles, a Bob Marley song calling out from a store.

Photo credit: "Hawassa" on skyscrapercity forum


Geoff Reed said...

I'm not believing how huge those storks are! Would hate to get attacked by one. Are they waiting for a hand out?

Mzuri said...

I don't recall any handouts from people, but since fish is big business in the lake, they get to feast on the orts of people's fish meals. They are huge - I also wouldn't want to be attacked by one!