My last morning in Lalibela was pretty easy—packing up and sipping coffee, watching some news and waiting on the airport shuttle. The owner of Red Rock Hotel was super insistent that I write him a review on Trip Advisor, to the point of being kinda pushy and annoying. So I will. And since I wasn’t blown away with their operation, I guess it’s careful what you wish for, buddy. Whatever.
I got some good reading in at the airport, munching on some popcorn and sipping coffee in the lounge, really enjoying the travel vibes. So often in Peace Corps, traveling is an ordeal—a tightly budgeted, uncomfortable affair. It was nice to get outside that. The hop to Addis was brief and easy, with a delicious pumpkin muffin for a snack.
Getting on the flight, I noticed one of the couples that I had seen in Bahir Dar, then Lalibela, but hadn’t really interacted with outside of some polite head nods of recognition. They ended up sitting in the seats next to me on the tarmac shuttle to the terminal and we started chatting. Turns out that Harry and Laura recently ditched their jobs in the UK and are traveling the world for 9 months, which is super cool. It also turns out that they’re super sweet people. We ended up splitting a cab into town, as we were staying at the same guesthouse. Once we got to Mr. Martin’s Cozy Place—a fantastic name for a guesthouse—I was happy to drop my stuff and relax, done with the running around from hotel to hotel. Having fun can be exhausting.
I ended up heading into town in the early afternoon to stop in at Salem’s, a shop that sells all manner of different textiles made by a women’s weaving collective. I had looked at it early in the trip, but didn’t pick anything up because I didn’t want to travel with any purchases for two weeks. Naturally, after thinking about it for so long, I was a little underwhelmed on arrival, but I chalked that up to the fact that I’m terrible at pulling the trigger when it comes to shopping. I picked out a nice blanket/throw for now, figuring I’d be back.
The impending end of my vacation had thrown into stark relief the end of cheap, accessible Ethiopian food every day, so I headed down the street to a very average looking bar for dinner. I mean “average looking bar” in a praiseworthy ideal—they’re usually my favorite places to get food when traveling in the developing world. I had some bozena shiro with injera that was absolutely delicious—after I inhaled it, the waiter brought me some extra, just because I liked it so much. Nothing like wholeheartedly enjoying local food to make people friendly. I had some tej as well, the Ethiopian honey wine. It’s good, but there’s draft beer on the cheap in Addis, so that remains the move. I nursed a couple, watching groups of businessmen unwind, both tie and tongues loosened in the evening, faces flickering in the light of a big courtyard fire. After dark, the high-end neighborhood of Bole gets a little seedy, so my walk home was soundtracked by come-ons from the working girls lining the streets, posted up in high heels with nowhere to go. An odd departure from the church towns I’d been in. Back at the guesthouse, I turned in before it was too late, hoping to get an early drop on Addis in the morning