01 April 2008

beginning to recap

I realized that I've been not posting because I was trying to figure out how much to say - or not - about the whole Ethiopian men thing. I am tempted to spill out a ream of stories so that it's clear that I'm not just stereotyping Ethiopian men, but I think I'm not going to tell the worst of them for fear of descending into ranting or tedium. Just realize that when I tell a story and you think, "Hm, she seems a little on edge about Ethiopian men," there are very good reasons behind that, like constant, threatening harassment. We will just leave it at this: although there were no attempts at actual physical touching, the verbal harassment, particularly the language used, was such that I did not feel safe walking on the street at high noon in several towns I visited.

Moving on.

On the day I arrived in Addis Ababa, I took a taxi around the Ring Road to the empty house of some Ethiopian friends of mine who live in Rwanda. It was quite probably the oldest car in which I have ever sat, and it was missing such things as head rests and seatbelts (not that the seatbelts had been removed, but that the car was old enough to have never had them). The car puttered up hills very, very slowly, and when we finally got to the top of the hill, we sat in the car in the sun waiting for the person to come with the key. I didn't have a phone, so the taxi driver waited with me (and then proceeded to attempt to overcharge dramatically me despite severe bargaining, but that's unimportant). I was so incredibly delighted to be in Africa, sitting in the sun, warming myself after a cold, stressful winter.

When I opened the back door to get something out of my bag, I slammed it on my hand and scrapped up two fingers but good. Then I sort of looked at them without caring. I scoff at injuries. Blood was oozing out between my pinkie and ring finger. I shrugged and kept my hand away from anything light colored. I thought vaguely about the fact that some people might say that it's important to clean injuries that happen in new parts of Africa, where the diseases might be different than the ones my body is accustomed to fighting off, but I am generally completely unconcerned about minor diseases like infections and stomach problems (other than that fifteen-month long one. seriously. ice cream from the street carts in Liberia - particularly that one at Harbel - was a serious mistake.). I never did bother to clean that door-inflicted wound, and it healed just fine.

Later, I walked down the hill looking for internet. I passed little girls in school uniforms who giggled behind their hands at me, and a grove of eucalyptus trees that smelled like mountains. The two men and one woman staffing a tiny corner shop full of children's clothes but empty of customers (I don't know how customers would have fit, anyway) gave me suggestions about internet places. I took a minibus down the Ring Road and then back up it, paying minute amounts of birr (one, two) each time. I sat on the balcony and watched the sun set over a city lighting up for the evening.

I went to sleep under a quilt under a ceiling that was occupied by rats. I had been warned about the rats in the ceiling, but I didn't much care after 36 hours on planes. I listened to them scuffling around. I took a melatonin to convince my body that it really was nighttime. And then I slept in a real, non-moving bed.

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