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 stateless. 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.