Friday, May 25, 2012

Ethiopia 2011 - Dear Salad

Dear Dorothy
Thursday March 17 2011
Kombolcha, Ethiopia

Shit, fuck hell. Here I am 6 hours away from my passport. It is at the 
hotel in Addis. Stupid stupid, STUPID !! We got into Addis last night 
and had to check into the hotel. Clear up the arrangements for the trip 
north and all in two seconds. I was frazzled and left my passport at 
the reception desk when I checked in. Well at least it's located. 
Tomorrow Lalibea for 2 nights and the passport is supposed to be in our 
next stop. Cardinal sin on my part.

Well here is what I was planning to say before I realized that I am 

Dear Salad

Thank you very much for last night. When I saw you in that top of the 
line hotel I knew you were for me. Not like those other salads that you 
see at the truck stops or roadside cafes begging for a traveler to take 
a chance on them. No, you were high class. Your tomatoes were plump and 
yet firm. Their lusciousness showing when they popped wet and juicy 
seeds in my mouth. Your lettuce spread wide and waiting. Lubricated 
with just the right amount of oils and a touch of vinegar. The peppers 
added just the right amount of spice.
But I hate to ruin those fond moments but I feel you gave me something 
your cousin the tomato salad in Jinka did. In the middle of the night 
when I went to the bathroom I first became aware of the problems you 
gave me. I knew better than to pick up a salad like you while on 
vacation, but looks are deceiving. Ya, ya .. I know what you are going 
to say. It could have been the spicy chilli and garlic mixture. It 
could have been a drop of water from an almost dry glass. I might have 
even done it to myself, by putting something in my mouth. Maybe a 
finger that wasn't washed. Yes, I know you are going to blame it on 
someone else. But I know it was you.
I just wanted to write this to you and let you know that you and I are 
through. If I ever see you again in a hotel's restaurant don't expect 
me to give you a second glance. Goodby to you, from now on it is only 
American salads for me, no matter how tempting the exotic ones appear.

 - t.

We now return you to our regular bitching.

So I go down to dinner last night and the waiter from the "I want a 
laptop" is there. He is sooooo friendly. And of course reminds me of 
the great many ways that someone can mail things like laptops from the 
USA to Ethiopia. I tell him that wishing in one hand and ------- in the 
other would have better results. I tell him that I have done it once 
and that was for a very good friend. Someone who I totally trust, who 
has had me to his home several times and who's sister has gone far out 
of her way to prepare special meals for me. Someone who I have spent a 
lot of time with and who I have emailed back and forth for years. Then 
and only then did I bring him a Netbook computer from the states. I 
would never mail a laptop to someone who I've had a short conversation 
over breakfast one day and another short conversation in the hotel 
lobby. I hope I didn't pussyfoot around it too much and leave him 
hanging expecting the laptop to arrive after I get home.
It was interesting but later he left me to eat dinner AND breakfast 
alone. Really odd.

We left the hotel later that we generally do. Not a long day about 6 
hours on the road. It was pure luxury to have that time to laze over a 
second cup of coffee before facing the day. Thanks Tiff !! We are 
traveling in a mini bus now, the need for a 4X4 is supposed to be in 
the past. Let's hope.  I am starting to have minor cash concerns. I 
hope I can find an ATM along the way. I'm plastic rich and cash will 
work out if I watch it. I do not like watching it.
The road today, I know I said no more about the roads, but today's road 
was all paved. By all I mean 98.44% paved. If that percentage is good 
enough for Ivory Soap it's good enough for me. We did drive through an 
unfinished tunnel, that was interesting and a little concerning due to 
a slight case of claustrophobia. It was about a km. long and I kept 
looking at the lattice supporting the roof and seeing where the big 
trucks have occasionally hit them and set them slightly askew. Of 
course that gave me great confidence, greater the closer to the light 
at the other end we got.

The highway went through the mountains. It was an experience going from 
Addis, to rolling fields that reminded me of the Palouse. To fertile 
alpine meadows that except for the Tina Turners would have been in 
Austria or Switzerland. We never got out of the tree line and never hit 
snow. Alex said it does snow there, but I didn't see any "Ski Ethiopia" 
bumper stickers. We stopped for a look see at the top of the pass. 3200 
meters (right about 11000 feet (I may just quit doing the conversions 
you can do the math as well as I can)) (besides, what if I'm wrong?) 
One side had a deep gorge running east. The drop was a precipice 
probably 200 feet and continued on for some time. A little further up 
the hill were a family of baboons a big male and two smaller ones. I 
wuld have taken pictures of these great shots except at that exact 
location and only that location a f-ing cloud had settled and totally 
obscured the canyon. I know because I almost stepped off the edge. I 
saw the baboons through the fog and know they are baboons because Alex 
and the hat salesmen told me that is what they were. Otherwise they 
were just (to quote Lynette) "Monkeys in the fog" and indistinct 
monkeys at that.
It was really cold there. I know .. Well Duh !! It was the first time 
I've worn my purple jacket except to move it from one location to 
another since Amsterdam. The sales me at the peak were selling knit 
woolen caps. Rough yarn done on huge needles and topped with some sort 
of "Alfalfa" (Little Rascals not grain) like hairs that stuck straight 
up. Baboon hair I was told. One of the guys had a full head of baboon 
fur on his cap. It really looked awesome. Except for the probably 
astronomical price and the minor thing of Fish and Wildlife and CITES 
upon returning to the USA I would have liked to own it. I wonder if it 
was plucked or shaved from the baboon ?

Nothing else of import happened that I can recall. My notes for the day 
are in the mini-bus and the passport incident kind of wiped all the 
minor occurrences of the day into the ether.

So time to close that and get on with reading my novel "The art of 
racing in the rain" and try not to cry over it any more.

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