I dive into the pool, my head goes down and suddenly I hear music. I come out of the water with my head and hear nothing. Huh? I dive in again and realise that the music can only be heard under water. Funny. I have never experienced that before. Myrthe, Loes and Patricia also come into the pool. Listen, I say to them and one of them dives under water and the other just keeps her ear on the water to keep their hair dry.
We are at the pool of the Sheraton in Addis Ababa. We enjoy a day of rest and luxury, in the bubble – the world of expats.
‘Start with a cheerful note,’ says Patricia when I ask where to write my next blog about. And she’s right, after a few heavy blogs it’s time for a lighter blog. And that isn’t hard, because the first few days in Ethiopia at Myrthe are ‘awesome,’ as Myrthe would say. Especially now that Patricia and Loes from the Netherlands joined us.
But before I get to that, we were invited to the ‘farewell drink’ of three trainees of the Dutch Embassy, where Chris works, in Addis Ababa.
I’m not that difficult with new people and conversations, that would make travelling otherwise lonely, and I quickly make new ‘friends’ and speak to people I met earlier this week at the place where we have the drink. Addis feels like a village. Although I’m talking about the bubble. There is also a world outside the bubble that we haven’t explored yet.
Patricia & Loes
Then we continue to the airport to pick up Patricia and Loes. They stay for two weeks and I for a month. We know each other from The Hague when we studied there. Then we saw each other every week, that diluted when you go to work so I like that I see them again.
Myrthe is a good hostess – I can still learn from her – and she has put prosecco cold at home and despite it is five o’clock in the morning we still drink a drink to start our ‘holiday’ well.
Sleep off & the Hyatt
The next day, or the same day actually, we sleep till eleven and start our breakfast around lunchtime. ‘My boss is here,’ says Loes, ‘and we can have a coffee with him’. He stays in Hyatt, where I have had a drink and a meal with Myrthe earlier that week – yes, I know, life is hard.
And so we’re back in the Hyatt at the Moyee coffee that afternoon. Rijkman Groenink’s coffee – so it’s in the coffee nowadays (he is famous in the Netherlands) – and Peter, Loes’ boss and probably some investors. It is very tasty coffee.
There are a lot of Dutch in Ethiopia. There are many farmers who have flower farms here and then fly the flowers to Belgium. So the Dutch flowers are not as ‘Dutch’ as you might think.
After the coffee we want to do something. So we end the afternoon at Entoto Maryam church. This is a church with a palace of Menelik II, an Ethiopian king, who had his palace, which looks more like a farm, built in 1882. These buildings are the first in Addis Ababa.
There is a museum, which is just a tent, where we get another tour. This man is, just like in a previous museum we visited, quite compelling to tell us everything. We hear him about Menelik II, other kings and look at the objects he used. It’s not very interesting, but we can’t leave, the guide is so compelling that we hear his whole story before we leave the tent.
Out of the bubble
The next day we decide that we have to get out of the bubble. We get in the car and go to Lake Langano, a lake south of Addis. We stop at a strawberry farm for breakfast and a delicious strawberry juice. Then we drive on to have lunch at a Lodge at the lake.
On the way we see Africa as I have in mind. There is a long road with villages along it where in the first villages we mainly see men on the streets. There are goats, cows, dogs and donkeys on the streets. Myrthe sometimes screams, with a lot of giggling from us at the back, when another donkey suddenly crosses the street.
We also see totally different people. In Addis they speak Amharic, but outside Addis in the south mainly Oromo who speak Oromiffa live.
On the way Patricia gets a nose of blood and Loes helps her by giving her handkerchiefs, but then she also pulls away white and we decide to stop. Strange,’ I say, ‘that it all happens at the same time,’ but then Loes says that one thing has to do with the other. Well. Then I’ll understand. I can’t stand blood very well either. Fortunately, after a while everyone feels better and so we continue.
Eventually we arrive at the logde around two o’clock after having driven on a dirt road for an hour to get there. The lake is beautiful. There are hippos and there are countless special birds of which Chris takes beautiful pictures and tells us which bird it is. I find it special that he really recognizes every bird and knows its name. Although of course he can say anything, because my knowledge of birds is not very great.
The water at the lake is brown. What is crazy, but the advantage is that there are no animals that are dangerous like in many other lakes in Ethiopia, which is why the lake is popular.
Lunch is ok, vegetarian food is not their speciality, so to speak, and we leave around four o’clock to return to Addis. On the way we wave again at many children who look at us and wave when we pass by. It feels a bit strange, five white people in a car waving to the children in the villages who live in simple clay huts, but this is how it is and we laugh and wave a lot.
And so today I am at the Sheraton hotel where the man who serves us starts over Rastafari. It’s just a king, no faith,” he says. I don’t know much about it, but more people have already started about it and so I google to find out more.
Google teaches me that the best known Rastafari is Bob Marley who always walked in the colors of the Rastafari. Yellow, green and red. Also the colors of the Ethiopian flag. Rastafari, the faith, started in the 1930s in Jamaica and they followed the Ethiopian king Haile Selassi. That explains why the man from the ministry says it is ‘just a king’ while others will say it is a belief, but it is not something we are concerned with at the pool, so I will leave it at this.
Sex and the City
How we are here reminds me of the Sex and the City movie when they go on holiday. Four ladies in bikini to the cocktails and wine. We chat a bit with the staff here, chat a bit and gossip a bit. Delicious! Just nothing and with people who know me better is all I need. And if I’m tired of it I just dive into the pool with a delicious sauna music.