Saturday, August 05, 2006

My Version of Addis...

Ethiopia… I miss it. It’s true, it’s finally just so clear to me. Nearly seven weeks later I have realized it. I have finally cried. The pain has suddenly slapped me across the face, and my cheek stings red.

What is Addis Abeba, Ethiopia? Haha, in only one paragraph… Addis is waking up with the dawn when the priests’ Ge’ez incantations glide on the still morning air. It is old gray buildings, brown dirt roads, not much green. It’s large piles of bloodied beg carcasses on the side of the road on holidays. Addis is old men with wise wrinkles and placid eyes sitting on crates outside of tiny souks chewing chaat. It is contrast and contradiction. It’s the land of stick-shift and old cars. Addis is beggars who use their stub-limbs to stab your heart with guilt. It’s wooden scaffolding. It is the warm smell of fresh-roasted coffee beans and their hazy smoke that lazily drifts out through open doors and windows. It’s modern glass buildings being erected on every block. Addis is boys in tattered brown clothing laughing and running down the street. It is birbire always stuck under your fingernails. It is Haile Selassie, Meles Zenawi, Bob Marley, Colonel Mengi Haile Mariam, and Ala Mudi. It’s loaded donkeys and herds of sheep blocking the road. Addis is air heavy with diesel fumes. Addis is smiles exposing tattooed gums. It is hills of tin roofs. It’s swimming at the Sheraton at night when it’s beautiful and all lit up, and it’s silent but for the lapping of the water, and there are only old men who shouldn’t be wearing Speedos but are. Addis is blue and white taxis whizzing through the streets and the whining drone of “Bole, Bole, Bole” or their respective destinations being yelled out of the window. It is “sambusa” instead of “samosa.” It’s high foreheads and long noses. It is wealth in the hands of few. Addis knows stray dogs but is just beginning to fully understand dogs as pets. It is red and orange anbesa buses that are red and orange because they are sponsored by Kodak. It’s hilarious Ethiopian accents when speaking English. Addis is crusty-eyed children mobbed by flies, wooden crosses hung delicately around their necks, selling Soft tissue paper at stoplights. It is attending your mother’s sister-in-law’s daughter’s fiance’s cousin’s wedding. It is customs, propriety, and saving face. Addis is learning our tolerance and and partying on weekends with ICS, Sandford, Greek School, Lycee, and St. Joe’s. It is TV in Arabic. Addis is kindness, hospitality, and generosity. It is ancient like love. It is love.