Monday, January 26, 2009

Back to Addis

Fitsum showed up shortly after we finished breakfast to haul us back to Addis. He had told us the day before that we could take our time on the way back and stop and see any sites that we wanted. It was more or less decided that we wanted to get back to Addis sooner rather than later. So we were not necessarily opposed to going a bit more slowly than we had on the way down, when we were on a tight schedule, but we did not necessarily want to take the day to tour one of the national parks and see the birds.

At dinner in Awassa, when we were talking to the adoptive father doing the film, Solomon, the driver with him from WHFC told us about a fish market, not far from the hotel, where there were monkeys. He said that we should definitely have Fitsum take us there the next day. When I mentioned it at breakfast, the other couple was fine with going.

Now, when he said fish market, I had men around counters, throwing fish to one another. Then I realized that I was not in Seattle, and my vision switched to something from Andrew Zimmern Bizarre Foods. Dirt floor, battered tarps, wooden stands, and people everywhere bartering and negotiating for fish.
Well, I was wrong on all points. We drove up to a set of gates with guard stands on either side, and into a national park. We drove over into a grove of trees and parked. On the way you could see small brown monkeys jumping out of the trees to get a closer look.

The grove was on the edge of a lake and the fisherman were all coming in with their small boats, and their small catches. Little kids were running all over the place, and when they saw that I was completely giddy over the blue balled monkeys they ran and go bread – kind of like English muffins or soda bread and sold Cory two pieces. This was so we could coax the monkeys over to us, and it certainly worked.
There was one monkey in particular that really liked me. I felt so bad for the little guy. I’m not sure if I have mentioned before that there are dogs wandering everywhere with no owner in particular. Well, as I was feeding this monkey I noticed that he had marks all over him, like big festering sores kind of marks…. I was a little concerned that I was going to get some sort of monkey leprosy. But he was smaller than some of the others and seemed Very hungry.

I asked Fitsum what was wrong with the monkey and he told me that it was the dogs – that they attacked the monkeys and the sores were actually the bit marks from the attack… Poor monkey!!!! So I kept feeding him, holding out the bread with him taking it out of my hand. The little ingrate tried to steal my ring. Yup, I had a cheeky, blue balled monkey try to steal my cheap ring from Mazatlan. So there I am yelling at a monkey at this “fish market” saying let go you bad monkey. Bad monkey. The monkey seriously put his head down and his hands between his legs, until I got over it and then he started taking the bread from me. He tried to steal one more time – the rest of the piece of bread, and he got yelled at again. “Endlessly, horribly bad monkey!! That is rude. Don’t do that”. Yes, I was serious. I forgot that there were other people around me. And no, it is not on video. Thank God Cory as sleeping on the job. This time the monkey kept his head and hands down for a really long time. Then when we walked away to explore more, he followed me. I think he liked the tough love.

There were also a lot of crazy looking pelican type birds here. The kids would go over to where the fishermen were cleaning the fish and take handfuls of the guts to throw at the birds so they would stand up and show their full bodies, so that us tourists could take photos. Then of course they expected payment.

The lake was gorgeous and the birds were interesting, but let’s face it, it was all about the monkeys for me. If I could have gotten a visa for one of those guys – well, let’s just say there’d be some poop flinging happening in this house right now.
So we left and headed back to Addis. On the way we took our time, stopping to take a photo here or there and having a cup of coffee at a little roadside hotel/cafĂ©. Basically just relaxing and if I haven’t mentioned it before, let me now, or if I have, do it again. If you are in Ethiopia, bring your own toilet paper. I cannot tell you how invaluable those little rolls of travel Charmin are. And also, don’t forget hand sanitizing wipes of some sort too. Some of the toilets outside of Addis are holes in the ground with a place for your feet on either side. There is pee all over the floor, and I don’t want to know what kinds of spiders, and it smells like the outhouses at parks here in the US in the middle of the summer time. Although on the main road down, the hotels that you would stop at have normal toilets, rarely with TP. Or soap and water to wash with. Crazy for a country that eats with their hands and are so concerned with washing them before meals.

Of course on our way out of the park, we were required to pay for use of the park. I can't remember exactly what it was but when someone with a rifle tells you to pay, you just do it.

One last story about the way back to Addis – the Camels. As we were coming up the road, we saw a herd of camels coming down along the side. This was something new. So our driver stopped for us to take pictures. He told us that they were from the Oroma region and that they were leading their camels to water. That is one hell of a walk. We’re talking days. As were taking photos, it became painfully obvious that the kids herding them were not cool with that. One kid, and he was a kid, I would say 13 maybe, was coming toward us across the road, yelling and shaking a rock at us, ready to throw it at us. His cohort, a little older, maybe 16 or 17, stood in front of the car so we couldn’t leave. Everyone quit taking pictures, pusses, and waited to find out what was happening. (My camera was dead) Our driver had no idea what they were yelling at us. Apparently he did not speak that dialect and it had no similarity to anything that he did. A car going in the opposite direction stopped in the middle of the road and they spoke their language. They explained to our driver that the boys were upset because we were taking pictures without paying. Seriously!!!! I think that we ended up paying them 10 birr, a dollar, but it was still annoying. Violent little extortionist. After we left there was a second herd of camels, and this time we offered money up front – gave them 20 birr and they were nice enough to pose with the camels too.

Next stop Addis. I’ll talk about getting back and meeting B for the first time.

I think that the pics are fairly self explanatory and I'm too lazy to label each one. Let me know if you have any questions!!