Final Days Part 3
Now it may seem that my last two blogs were a tad negative – and so they were but I am trying to stay positive and amuse myself in the last few weeks I have here. I am trying to remember all the good things about Ethiopia, and there are some. However, I do not have the will or the inclination to recount them here at the moment. I am hoping when I return that I will remember things with fondness, like the Ethiopian penchant for plastic flowers. They are everywhere and of every gaudy colour possible. In fact plastic allows for an array of vibrant colours not often associated with flowers. My favourite is bright violent blue. Blue bridesmaid dresses are this season's choice for young ladies. And the blue has to be a violent deep blue and shimmery. As do the associate flowers. Ethiopian bridesmaids never carry real flowers – I have no idea why – especially as there is an abundance of beautiful flowers that grow year round. Every landlord I know cuts back flowers. My present landlord uprooted all the flowers planted by a previous volunteer. What a pity. But bridesmaids must carry plastic flowers and wave them out of the car window as they ride around town in the wedding car and drive round the roundabout several times before moving on. Last Sunday there was a queue to use the roundabout for wedding car horn tooting and waving of plastic flowers. Plastic flowers are everywhere – even in the President of SNNPR's office and the office of all the Deans of Universities.
I was asked to give the SNNPR President an English lesson and was asked to prepare something ahead of time. I took the opportunity to print off reviews from web sites recounting the terrible hassle tourists and visitors receive on a trip to Ethiopia. We discussed the shouting of ferengi, you you etc, the perception of people outside Ethiopia and how much hassle we get from beggars and those simply shouting at you. We even asked him the question of how he would feel if someone in England or Australia shouted nigger at him in the street. His answer was very interesting. He said that if he was in London he would think the guy was just mad as he knows that most British people do not think that way and would be offended if one of their compatriots shouted at a tourist in that manner, but that if it happened in Australia he would feel distinctly uncomfortable as many Australians have a poor attitude to the Aboriginals and that he may be thought to be one of them and therefore come in for some serious ridicule. President Shiferew is a smart shrewd man with many interesting ideas. I enjoyed his company immensely so when he asked if the hassle we had discussed was as bad in Awassa I said it was worse than Addis. He replied saying that he guessed most educated Ethiopians would not know this as they do not receive the hassle. But that as he has access to newspapers and radio he would start a campaign to stop the hassle of ferengi!!!! If that is my legacy then I am happy.
And so it is time to come home. Almost all my clothes are ripped, torn and threadbare and will be required to be thrown away. Which is just as well as VSO have booked me on two different airlines - BMI which allows me 30kgs from Addis to Heathrow and then BA which allows me 20kgs from London to Glasgow. Good old VSO, unable to see the difficulty this would present. I'll need to eject 10kgs along the way. But it will also be good to come home to a new wardrobe. 2011 – 2012 will be a year of new beginnings and I am so looking forward to it. I have mixed feelings about Ethiopia and its people – but I have had some amazing experiences (which I hope to share here when I reflect back) and learned a lot – including how to make pancakes and popcorn – and met so many incredible people from so many countries. But I have developed and grown as a person. It could just be something that hits you when you turn 40, it could be that I have had to challenge myself and my (at times) unreasonable behaviour and behave better. Or it could be that living cheek by jowl with some of the world's poorest people puts things into perspective or it could simply be that I have found my other half. My better half. I have found someone I am completely myself with and who understands me and accepts me entirely and with whom I have a future that I am truly excited about. But most likely it is a combination of them all and I am comfortable with myself and who I am. Travel really does bring you home to yourself and it is a happy place to be. Happy Travelling Blogees!!!!!!!