10:25PM: Jetlag 1, Me 0. Short sleeps then nights of wakefulness. A slightly dopey state of daytime being. It rained this evening. Addis Ababa is chilly damp green place. About 7,500 feet high and between three and four million people.
Addis seems a dark city. Our fourth floor ceiling to floor windows look out on the city skyline offering up a mere scattering of lights. Where’s the neon gaudiness of night time in the metroplex as we know it? In fact in the whole panorama before me I see exactly one red neon sign, too distant to know what it might entice me to buy. The short distance between that city skyline and me is densely suburban but there’s an absence of street lights also. I know from all my previous visits to this continent that every few streets there’s the tiny, tin or other found-material-built, shack with shelves of crackers, cookies, canned meat and fruit, soft drinks, fruit drinks, cigarettes, toilet paper, laundry soap, shampoo. There will be a bare light bulb dangling over the storekeeper’s head as he/she chats with the passers-by and occasional customers.
That smoky fumy earth smell of most African cities and villages is ever present. African voices, whatever language in whatever country seem melodious to me compared to other cultures and continents. I always feel expectantly happy in Africa. In Scandinavia, my other favorite world-within-world I think I feel … more somberly happy! I’ve just said something I cannot define but I know is true. Certain geographies fit each of us. Yes? These are mine. We do not have to know the why of everything.
We came to this Real Place mid-day, a three-hour plus flight from Generic Shopping World. By the time the cumbersome visa process was over and we were settled into our pleasant local hotel, where we had taken over a two-room, simple but comfortable suite with windows that open and really fast wifi, it was 4PM. Our evening was consumed with trying to stay awake, puttering, gazing out at the incoming rain storm and putting off going to find a source of the snacks we all desired—we’re now living on my gluten-free crackers from Lowe’s. Steven dropped off to sleep first, then me, then Teresa but while they’re still sleep I, not unhappily, listen to the voices of the nighttime neighbors including quite a few barking dogs.
Teresa is in charge of Addis time so for the next two days we are very busy we’re told. We are all excited—a really new city, even for me. Haven’t been in the neighborhood before, Ethiopia being something unique onto itself, if history serves. Did read something not too long ago about the very bizarre and tragic years of Haile Selassie. I’ll do a wiki-refresh in the morning before we go exploring.
OUT THE WINDOW