Friday, October 17, 2014

Drive to Mekele

I woke up early in the morning to drive to Mekele, 8 hours away.  The drive was spectacular.  Just mountains and farmland and beautiful villages.  The word “lush” doesn’t begin to describe Ethiopia.  It’s like Mother Nature threw up on it.

Camels on the road

My driver was an old man and we exchanged pleasantries for hours as he practiced his English.  He showed me a picture of his son.  His wife died 2 years after his son was born and was taken in by his grandmother.  2 weeks ago, the grandmother died.  Now my driver, Mengistu, has to pay more than a day’s salary to have a caretaker look after the boy. 
Mengistu started to cry and turned to me to ask “Will you adopt my boy?  He is honest and so good.  He may die if I cannot feed him.”
I hear a lot of stories.  My cleaner in Uganda has a new one for me every week.  People want me to help them and I do what I can but there are lines you have to draw around your heart when living in these countries. 
I told him, “I’m sorry, I cannot take him.”
“Please, take my number.  If you find someone who wants him, please don’t forget me.”
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that no one would ever adopt a 12 year old boy.  Instead, I took the number and said, “Of course.”
I gave him some money, and he took it and thanked me, but I could tell from his eyes that this was only spitting at the fire of the problem.

We stopped for some roadside coffee.  A priest came by and offered us a prayer for money, but I did not give him any.  God should not need our money, only our love.  A group of boys on a soccer team came by with a big picture of them in jerseys asking everyone at the coffee shop for money for their team.  I gave them 50 Birr ($2.50) and they ran off screaming and hooting.  An obscene donation I was told.  Shit, I probably could have bought soccer balls for the whole town.  Because in my observations, soccer sustains people more than prayers.

Money is a scarily powerful thing to have.  I never thought I had a lot of it until I realized now I could be a sultan.  A sultan of soccer teams.  Wild.

I bought a bushel of Chaat, a stimulant like very strong tobacco.  You pick off the leaves and chew them in the back of your gums.  I’m pretty sure not eating roadside leaves was in one of my trainings on how not to get Cholera.  Oh well lolz.

Eating Chaat like a damn Koala 
Edit:: Oi, bad idea.  The Chaat is rocking to sleep on my stomach lining.  But at least I’m WIDE AWAKE.

End note::: Seriously though, if you do happen to know someone who would be saintly enough to take in a 12 year old Ethiopian boy, I took all of the driver’s contact information.

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