Ten days later I was still in the hotel.
This lead to the inevitable joke among my friends and fellow volunteers, “How long does it take an Ethiopian to build a toilet?”.
The local teenagers who seemed to run the hotel in the absence of any authority figure took an instant and fervent dislike to me. (Think David Walliams as “Compu’er-says-no” from Little Britain.)
And while by the time I left one of them still despised the sight of me, the others had fallen victim to my irresistible Irish charm and giggled with unbridled delight when I tried a few words of pidgin Amharic for the stock phrases of hello, how are you, can I have some food, why is there a taste of diesel from the bread or my toilet is issuing a fine but constant spray all over the bathroom etc. I can honestly say I made at least one of them laugh heartily each day with some grammatical boo-boo or other.
But there comes a time in everyone’s life when they must move out of the hotel they are living in and into an Arabian palace and so the time had come for me. My last night in the hotel also marked the Friday of my first full week at Uni. Couple this with the fact that I had been living out of a bag for the past three weeks or so and you can understand how I looked forward to the morning with relish and a place of my own. It had been a great first week in Woldia but I was a little worn out from the newness of every experience and I planned to rather self indulgently have a very early dinner that evening and get into my pjs straight after in anticipation of the day ahead.
I love going to bed early it is one of life’s simplest pleasures 🙂
When I got to my room however there was enough water to have a shower and one thing I have learned so far is that when this opportunity arises you must seize it immediately! After heating the water, I took a long (10 minute) hot shower and snuggled up beneath the covers with a clean, warm, dry mop of hair and the smell of soap still on my skin. I felt absolutely and thoroughly pampered and waited patiently for sleep to come.
By my reckoning it started at around eleven and continued for an hour. Then there was a lull until 3AM IN THE MORNING when it resumed unbroken UNTIL NINE THE FOLLOWING MORNING.
It was as if the person in the room next door had the stereo on full blast but I was powerless to do anything about it. This “call to prayer” was more violent than anything I have ever heard from the altar before and I questioned why people should be called to prayer in such a manner ALL NIGHT LONG. I would suggest if they don’t answer the call the first time- let them be damned in the fires of hell! (and let the rest of us get some sleep)
Below there is a sample. Please clink on the link. It will take four minutes of your time.
When I “woke” in the morning my head was throbbing, I felt nauseas and the urge to do physical harm to someone was strong in me. I pity the fool that gets between a Healy and their sleep, really I do (as all camp-goers know). It wasn’t long before my thoughts turned to sabotage of the loud speaker network in the town and a planned reconnaissance mission of said network during the week.
(NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: As penance for my heresy my new home is located next to a mosque. At least their brand of fire and brimstone is more tuneful than the Christians.)