On the road again without Anne Hathaway

     I learned that I missed Anne Hathaway by about a week in Bahir Dar. My Couchsurfing friend in Addis Ababa helped put together her itinerary in Ethiopia. Who would have guessed that after hosting the Oscars, Anne Hathaway zooms off to Ethiopia? She brought her boyfriend, which is for the better since I didn’t want it to be awkward if we met. She was a little clingy, what do you want from me?
     It’s convenient that lots of people speak English in Ethiopia as my Amharic isn’t quite at a fluent level just yet. Have you ever seen Ethiopian writing?

     I can't help it. Every time I see the Ethiopian alphabet, I think of the wingdings font.

     Sickness has more or less passed (cough!) and I’m flying today to eastern Ethiopia, to its second city, Dire Dawa. I must admit that I feel a little guilty about spending the money to fly. It was 670 birr ($39), The alternative is an estimated 11 hour bus that leaves at 5am which would cost about 300 birr ($18) including the taxi to get to the bus station at that ridiculous hour. I am most troubled by it because the last third of the trip is supposed to be especially beautiful landscape. I rationalize it partly by reminding myself that if I can’t get out of Somaliland to a place I want to go, I will have to return via this route. Or am I just getting soft?

     Felt a little better about my decision not to take the bus when I made a day trip 40km south to the crater lakes of Debre Zeyit. (Lake Bishoftu is pictured above.) The road is chaotic. Even if the Dire Dawa bus leaves at 5am and avoids the traffic getting out of town, there are villages strung along the entire route, I surmise. It’s also worth a few birr not to have to watch 10 hours of Ethiopian pop music videos on board the bus. The first half hour is fascinating, the first hour is interesting, and by the second hour I am ready to pry my eyeballs out with a butter knife.

     Enjoyed some reverse hitchhiking in Debre Zeyit where a group in a car pulled up next to me as I was going up a hill and asked if I wanted a ride. They happened to be going back to Addis. It’s a great luxury to be driven in a car in Ethiopia. They left me near the airport in Addis, about 2km away from my hotel. In the great tradition of legendary Ethiopian runners Abebe Bikila and Haile Gebreselassie, I took a minibus.
     Haile Gebreselassie is still very much alive and there is a main street in Addis named after him. Since he is a living legend, maybe he felt emboldened enough to endorse a whiskey brand. I can’t look at the billboards around town without wincing.

     Met a beautiful Italian girl (giant hair, long name, strong accent—the whole deal) in the post office yesterday. She was so pretty that I wasn’t even phased that she was mailing a postcard to her cat. We checked out a couple of museums and then she flew home.
     Sorry it isn’t a better story.

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