Monday July 12, 2010
I know I’m supposed to be saving the world and all, but even the greatest of superheroes needs a vacation, and so this weekend found five of us crammed into a Toyota traveling 5 hours south to the “city” of Awassa. Although I had every intention of taking an extended nap with the sun on my face and the rock of the car, I couldn’t bring myself to close my eyes to the rapidly changing scenery. After the smog of Addis cleared we traveled though farmlands, mountains and deserts past greenhouses, steel factories and mud huts. We dodged cattle, donkeys, goats, monkeys and tuck-tucks. We waved to men in fields and children finding shade in desert trees or twisted into the curves of the oversized oaks.
Then we arrived in Awassa. I would be lying if I said the city itself is worth the drive. Actually, the drive is worth the drive, Awassa is nothing more than a large strip of hotels and bars, maybe worthy of a short stroll and nothing more. However, on the outskirts of the town lay Lake Awassa, inundated with hippos and Rastafarians willing to boat you just a little too close. Note to all adrenaline junkies, like myself, being 30 feet in a glorified row boat from the most deadly animal in Africa certainly does the trick; especially when they disappear under the murky water and high grass only to bob to the surface slightly closer.
The next day was equally entertaining as we spent the morning hand-feeding wild monkeys and watching the early morning fishermen cast their nets. There is something so natural about eating the morning catch lake side and chatting with the man who brought it in. Fried in huge barrels we burn our fingers picking apart our breakfast fish and pulling the bones from our teeth.
We broke up the drive home with a stop at some hot springs for a “shower” and left again gnawing on freshly harvested sugar cane. After pulling all the sweetness from the wood we shucked it out the windows with our teeth (sorry to dentists all around the world). It was necessary to stop one more time to purchase honey comb and again, nothing went to waste, not even the waxy texture of the comb itself.
By far the highlight of the trip, however, was enjoying each other’s company duck-side. Literally, we ate nightly at this restaurant whose “fire pit” was in the shape of a giant duck, aflame all night. And that right there is the prime example of all the humor that is Ethiopia. Of all the absurdities…