Saturday, February 25, 2012

a year ago this evening

I want to go back.

I want to step through the gate in the early evening and walk the rutted, sun-warmed streets, around the corner to the small shop for a bottled Mirinda, kez kaza. It is exactly the same as three other shops on the same corner but this one is ours because the owner likes us and laughs at our broken Amharic. She lets us leave with the bottles and knows we'll bring them back: there is no such thing as garbage here, no trash in the street because everything is valuable to someone.

I want to sit on a metal chair on the sidewalk eating angel hair pasta with meat sauce and a hint of berbere. There are three kinds of wat on the menu but they are all out of them tonight. I want a tall glass of thick, sweet mango juice, and then another when that one spills in my lap.

I want to shiver a little as the sun sets and order macchiatos that we really shouldn't drink at this hour. It's OK because we're too American to finish them anyway. Twenty minutes later we realize they'll never bring us the check if we don't ask; the fistful of birr we hand over for dinner wouldn't buy a tall latte back home.

I want to walk back to the guest house slowly, feeling the ache of a full belly in a hungry place. The guard comes down the street looking for us, more out of boredom than necessity. He gives shy smiles and nods to answer our small-talk questions but I'm fairly certain he doesn't understand more than a word or two.

Tonight the dogs will fight in the street while the mosques and churches blare their competing calls to prayer. The hopeful salesman will start hawking his wares outside the window at dawn and the goats will bleat sorrowfully. We'll be sleeping in our quiet house a world away. I still want to go back.

[the other side of the same coin.]


  1. i love all of your posts, but this might just be my favorite. when in ethiopia, i didn't think about my email in the middle of the night. i didn't wonder what time it was where my daughter is and what she was doing. i didn't count the days and weeks and think "what if." i just lived. there. with. her.