The Bauld Monkey in Addis Ababa


“it may be possible to do without dancing entirely.

Instances have been known of young people passing many, many months successfully without being at any ball of any description and no material injury accrue either to body or mind;-

but when a beginning is made-

when the felicities of rapid motion have once been, though slightly, felt-

it must be a very very heavy set that does not ask for more.”

-Jane Austen, “Emma”

You see, it’s not that myself and the Irish lads spent a lot of time “dancing” per say but I find it was just as the good lady has suggested above…a beginning was made; something had been set in motion.  I’d gotten a taste for my freedom and indeed Jane Austen, it tasted like more!

And so having spent the past four months within the confines of this town I made my escape bid to the bright lights, the high lights and the low lights of Addis Ababa.  I made the trip under the auspices of a two week Amharic language course with other VSO volunteers mostly from my intake.  I was really looking forward to seeing old friends, learning more of this language that I love, eating foreign food, stocking up on supplies, chatting with people I didn’t have to try so hard with, having a few beers and “letting my hair down” which, you will allow, suffices here to cover all manner of ills 😉

What I couldn’t have foreseen were the new friends I would make 🙂  And my uncontrollable glee on unearthing an entire aisle dedicated to tinned corned beef in the foreign supermarket!  (It’s a scout thing, you wouldn’t understand.)  And a second hand Irish language children’s book for sale in a book shop…in the capital of Ethiopia- why?!  Some other highlights included having a hair-cut and an accompanying Indian head message when I think I enjoyed the touch of another human being a little too much.  I also ate a salad with actual cucumber in it.  I won’t lie to you- there was beer.  There were even cocktails and a nightclub for heaven’s sake!

But (and I know this is going to sound oh so very predictable) by the end of the two weeks I was really looking forward to getting back “home” to Woldia.  Addis Ababa, while it has its functions is chaotic and stressful.  It is not in any way beautiful or restful.  I was also living out of a bag for three weeks which is never fun and sharing a room in a mouldy, cold hotel where I feel I could have lifted up the blankets and wrung them out with the damp.  So in a lot of ways while I has an amazing time in Addis, I was looking forward to getting back to the familiar if sometimes uncomfortable; the heat and the mosquitoes and to the lonely bus stop because it’s better the devil you know.

Then I got back to Woldia to discover that there had been no electricity or running water.

For. The. Past. Three. Weeks.

When I turned the key in the front door, the toilet seemed to cry out in salutation like a much maligned, ill-used, neglected old friend you chance to meet in the street; “Well hello there stranger!”, it bellowed; brash, loud, lairy and with an undercurrent of something more snide and sinister, “Long time no see!”

Two weeks’ later, there was still no running water.

(Five weeks without running water.)


Addis Ababa, you say?  All is forgiven!


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