I caught the 1200 flight back from Lalibela to Addis, getting to sleep in a little later this morning, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, and then meet Kassa in the lobby for our final car ride at 1000. It was a semi-tearful goodbye after the long drive to the airport on a hotter than normal. I didn’t realize how said I was to leave until I started to leave! I became emotionally attached to this spiritual city in mind, body, and spirit, and formed a connection with the land and the people. I left my watch (physical watch as well as my metaphorical sense of time) behind, and also my heart.
Back in Addis, Mesele picked me up and we went to lunch at Dodi. We had pizza. Later Mercy (Mesele’s wife) laughed at us, saying that I had the rest of my life to eat pizza, and “now you should be eating injera.” Believe me, I’ve had plenty of injera on this trip!
Then I convinced Mesele to drop me off at the National Museum while he finished up his work day.
The museum was underwhelming, mostly because I didn’t understand what I was looking at. The descriptions were extremely basic and there was very little “story” throughout the exhibits. The first floor was anthropology and human evolution, with the famous “Lucy” exhibit (of course the REAL Lucy was probably locked up in a vault somewhere, probably in Europe).The second floor I really enjoyed – it was modern art by Ethiopian artists (much of which was abstract) and, as such, required no explanation. The top floor was ethnography and was basically just a bunch of “old stuff” such as Ethiopian hunting equipment, pottery, and costumed. Mildly interesting without the back story.
I finished the entire museum in an hour, and also managed to attract a young man, who followed me around and tried to provide narration of what I was looking at throughout the entire museum. This narration consisted of reading out loud, in English, the phrase listed on each exhibit placard (as if I couldn’t read it for myself). After 30 minutes of politely indulging him, I told him I wanted to see the rest of the exhibits alone because part of the museum experience for me consisted of silent contemplation. I’m not sure he really understood, but eventually he got the point and told me he’d wait for me outside. I wasn’t sure what else to say, other than “Thanks.”
After seeing the inside of the museum, I spent another hour in the garden, taking pictures of the lovely flowers.
Around 1830 Mesele picked me up and we went to meet Mercy at the Kale Guest House that the family owns and manages, and also where she works. They had just recently been built and were quite new and modern, even with a fitness center and ping pong table, which we played at for about an hour.
Then, considering it was a Friday night, we decided to go to dinner. Mesele and Mercy chose ToTot – which is an Ethiopian traditional restaurant (e.g. song and dance). The ambiance was very nice, consisting of 3 large huts merged into a larger walled room. By the time we got there at 2030 the place was pretty empty, with a few tables our tour groups and locals scattered about – and the show was already half-over.
After ordering beer and Beef Tibs (which was the best and spiciest I’ve had yet), I immediately became part of the exhibit again (they pulled me up on stage and made me do the shoulder dance – I refuse to post it here out of utter embarrassment, but thanks to Mesele the whole thing was captured on his iPhone’s video camera, and hopefully it NEVER sees the light of day).
The music and dancing was great but didn’t go on for nearly long enough, and it would have been a lot more fun if the place had been busier. Mercy and Mesele were surprised, noting that Saturday night must be the big night for the restaurant.
When we got back to the apartment I unpacked and repacked a little more, charged some electronics, chatted about my trip up North, and was fast asleep by midnight. This would be my final night in Ethiopia, and I wasn’t ready to go home.