30 August 2012

the road to bekoji

It has been said that  all roads in Africa lead to Addis Ababa. Ethiopia’s capitol is a large, bustling metropolis in the heart of the Horn that houses the African Union, situating the “New Flower” as a focal point of continental and global politics. Metaphors aside, a quick map study of Ethiopia will show that to be in Addis is to be at a crossroads for the entire nation. After some artful dodging of “blue donkeys,” and actual donkeys, one might end up on a road that leads due south toward the Arsi Zone of Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia. Within minutes of crossing city limits, travelers along the road are treated to a vast, scenic landscape marked by sky-scraping mountains and sprawling planes in all directions. Livestock and wild animals, such as cattle (lam), sheep (bug), goats (fiyal), horses (ferres), packs of camels (not the ones you smoke), monkeys (zinjero), and feral dogs (wusha) gnawing on the remains of such creatures are as common as people walking or hawking their wares along the dirt shoulder. Dust funnels are not unheard of, and grass & mud huts (gojjos), dot the horizon.

Two hours on a cramped mini-bus later, if you’re lucky enough to escape Addis without significant traffic congestion, you come upon the binomial gateway to Arsi known dually as Nazaret and Adama, marked by a large, ovular archway you pass atop a hill before descending into this surprisingly Western-ish city. The warm Rift Valley temps, palm trees, abundance of tropical fruit, and flip-flops galore could fool you into thinking you’ve stumbled upon West Palm Beach (...sort of...?) rather than some spot in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially if you take in an American style poolside lunch at the Safari Lodge. 

Life as a PCV is tough, I swear.