Saturday, November 2, 2019

Flashback: Awassa, Ethiopia 2011: Of Hippos and Lunch, Part 2

This 2011 post discomfits me a little to select as a flashback. There are several cringe-worthy opinions I expressed during my two-month solo trip to Ethiopia.

They are cringe-worthy, for one, because I could have been just listening instead of talking. Learning something new instead of talking about things I really don't know enough about. Like, really, sex work in Ethiopia versus in the US? On what basis of actual facts did I have to render my judgement? Answer: None.

After I left Ethiopia, I thought back to my gossipy inanities about how most Ethiopian restaurants shared the same menu. .... Um, like the US is so different? Not really.

Oh, I've committed many, many cringe-worthy crimelets in my life, both domestic and abroad. I have no regret, however, about my campaign to wipe out the ubiquitous and obnoxious "you, you, you!" that young boys call out to tourists in Awassa.

The reason I selected this post for a flashback was because something reminded me of walking through a leafy expanse at the resort, along a narrow dirt footpath, alone, and where the blue-balled vervets began to gather, one by one, then by twos, .....

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ethiopia: Hippos and Lunch, Part 2, Awassa, Day 8, Monday

An afternoon storm began rolling in, darkening the sky, chilling the air, whipping up some wavelets and a breeze around us.

H. and I talked about how even extended travel in one country only scratches the surface in regard to an accurate understanding of a people's customs. (Heck, that's the case in one's own country of origin, too.) For example, we discussed the yawning holes ('tourist traps') in Ethiopian pavement that can swallow several humans at once. I said that most foreign tourists likely have the resources to get medical attention, whereas the typical Ethiopian does not, and such a fall could spell disaster for a family. H. suggested that it is worse for a foreigner to fall in the hole because s/he will share this experience with everyone back home (ahem), with a potential loss in future tourism. H. said that if an Ethiopian falls in said hole that people will donate money to ensure s/he gets proper care.

H. disdained my empathy for the young men in Shashamene, expressing his belief that most could find something profitable to do if they wished, but too many chewed chat all day.

We agreed the system of prostitution in Ethiopia was probably better than in the U.S. One huge advantage is that most Ethiopian prostitutes are their own boss, unlike many American prostitutes (assuming my vicarious-by-way-of-media information is correct) who work for pimps. Relatively speaking, Ethiopian prostitutes make good money, which is nothing to be sneered at here. Finally, Ethiopian prostitutes enjoy more respect here than their American counterparts in the U.S. According to H., prostitution is legal in Ethiopia, but evidently taxes are not assessed on this service. Of course, the only Ethiopians I've heard from on this topic are men; I'd be interested in women's views.

Eventually, it was time for me to leave this beautiful spot by the lake. First, I departed via a field within the resort. It was so funny - like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's, The Birds. Some monkeys in trees, then some in the grass, then one and two following me on the path. They gathered .... I did pick up a stick .... just in case ....

I wended my way out of the resort and down the cobblestone streets toward the town center. The restorative rain made everything mistily lush and fertile. When I walked under a tree occupied by storks, the wetness brought all of their bio smells to the forefront, making for an intense storky aroma. Not particularly pleasant. As usual, I stopped every once in awhile to just gawk at these immense birds. From certain angles, they looked like giant, uncomfortable penguins.

Later had dinner (spaghetti with meat sauce) at a brand-new place; it was so bland as to be irritating. Which, by the way, reminds me of an earlier conversation that H. and I had. We agreed that almost every Ethiopian restaurant in the country has the identical menu! It's like, what the hell?!

And here it is, for the most part:

* Egg sandwich
* Normal omelette
* Special omelette
* Toast, jam (always the exact same kind of jam), butter
* Juice
* Fried egg
* Oats (or porridge)
* Hamburger
* Cheeseburger
* Special burger (often with egg on top, when I've asked)
* Pasta with meat
* Pasta with tomato sauce (no meat)
* Pasta with vegetables
* And then the same 10 or so "traditional" Ethiopian dishes that cover the breakfast, lunch, and dinner times

And there you have it!

H.'s theory is that the cooks/chefs in the country simply do not want to cook outside the box.

If I were to open a restaurant in Ethiopia, I'd call it Something Different. I wouldn't call it Unique, because there are restaurants called Unique in many Ethiopian towns, and they, too, serve the same menu as everyone else.

Did I mention that I've been working a one-woman campaign in Awasa to stamp out calls of "You! You!"? Vacations. Such hard work.

Despite the above, Awasa is a beautiful city. For the most part, too, people here are very friendly and helpful.

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