Ethiopia journal: Winding down

We think we have everything in America, but there is one thing we have largely thrown away: courtyards. You’ve seen them in Mexico and in cloisters in Italy. Here in Addis, the are everywhere and often beautiful little gardens, butted up against the next house or hovel. Shady except at high noon. The one next to our guest house contained two shy cats, flowers we recognized from home, and giant cactus, and a satellite dish, a pleasant lawn and laundry. My wife says that people back home could learn a thing or two about landscape architecture.

It’s fascinating to see so much cut marble. Even the lowliest houses and office are covered with it. It must come from a quarry close-by. Back at home, only the swankiest of places have it.

The busy city life is taking its toll on my wife. If anything, I think perhaps what she (or anyone else) doesn’t like the most is pressure to do stuff she doesn’t want to. Isn’t this the classic theme of family vacations? Dad dragging everyone along to see and do stuff they don’t want to? Even if there are some big things in the mix that everyone does enjoy (Disneyland for example), that is still overshadowed by other coercions. In the woods, she enjoys so much around her, and is motivation to push through her lack of sleep, food, of oversupply of bug bites. Here though, since the important agenda is past, why not just nurse wounds and sleep in a bit? And a pox on anyone who tries to make me do otherwise! (That would be me. Oops.) Knock it off! 🙂

It was shockingly nice to have internet at the airport. Also, I’ve changed my mind about Bole airport. It’s just fine, at least when departing.

Checking my email on the way home, I see an email from Groupon on my inbox proclaiming “two man-hours” of house cleaning for only $40 – half off.

In Addis $40 would buy 40 man-hours, or far more.

On my bookshelf at home I have a recent coffee travelogue called God in a Cup. I reread the chapter on Ethiopia afterwards. These guys stay at fancy hotels, but take dangerous trips to the country and get sick all the time. They went to the exact same traditional restaurant that we did – the one with all the traditional dancing. They also wonder why people play foosball and ping-pong on the side of the road. (To be near the action?) Virtually none of them (in the journal) are tied to kids or marriages. They want to be kind and generous and humanitarian, but they are there for money far more than anything. Still, the west is not quite the same when they get back. They are frustrated that nobody wants to know what is going on in Africa. It is far easier for their acquaintances to just ignore it all.