Monday, October 6, 2014

We set off

There's nothing worse than airports in poor countries. They're a shitshow of bribery and pushy men. Usually I'm good to go and even thrive a little off it. Elbows out. But if you're feeling a little weak, a good trick is to pop in your IPod--your surroundings will turn into an artsy music video. Ultimately very comforting and "so meta."
"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together...I am the walrus"
This song was totally written in a sweaty Ethiopian airport.

I board the plane. Wrinkles next to me had obviously never been on a plane before and kept hitting me to show me the safety card. I helped him open his sandwich.

I follow a guy with my name on his paper into his car. He lets me out at a hotel where another man puts me into another car and wishes me goodbye. I'm in a covert operation where every man knows just enough to pass me off to the next.
"Where am I going?"
"And then?"
"I don't know."

5 car passes and 3 hours later our car pulled over next to an unlit circular hut. It was 8pm, pitch dark, raining and freezing. I was ushered into the hut and given a bowl. I guess it was dinner time. The hut had 14 men and women swathed in scarves. Two candles barely out the room and and a small fire cooked something in a big pot. A clear vegetable soup was ladled into my bowl and I ate it greedily, dipping bread around the edges. I listened to the Amharic voices which clucked with laughter and dipped in and out with the flickering candles.

The dinner hut

After dinner I hiked to the sleeping quarters. Raw beds under a low, warped ceiling. My team is a 100 year old scout and his rifle, my guide and the driver. They took beds on one side of the room and I on another. The scout stood outside, with a towel draped over his head, in the pouring freezing rain, all night.

I was in the middle of wet wiping my muddy feet when a pack of Korean tourists bust in and loudly take the remaining beds.

I may be getting too old for this shit.

Next vacation: piña coladas in Bermuda.

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