Good-Bye to Tour Group 2

Trip Start Oct 11, 2012
Trip End Nov 19, 2012

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Where I stayed
Ghion Hotel Addis Ababa
Read my review - 3/5 stars
What I did
Habesha Cultural Restaurant
Debre Zeyit

Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Saturday, November 10, 2012

I just saw off my second tour group at the airport after the cultural restaurant dinner.  I was sad to see them all leave but I think Kibrom was even more sad.  It was very touching:  when Peter gave him his gift with an appreciation speech, Kibrom was choked up.  He said it is the hardest thing for him as a tour leader - to see the people he has become close to during the trip leave.  He mentioned how he has no difficult people, because he tries to turn things around to make them happy.  I saw him do this and marveled at his skill.  I think it is all the more amazing that it is a conscious effort on his part.  Some may be his natural personality as well - I don't think anyone could be so good at it just through sheer will power. 

So after the group all said their goodbyes and left, Solomon drove the bus to the Ghion and Kibrom said goodbye to me too.  So I couldn't help but be teary  because saying goodbye always makes me tear up.  He seemed quite ok though - which was good.

So now I have settled in my room after ascertaining that I will have breakfast included and I decided to keep the room for the whole day for an extra $40 so I won't have to figure out where to go or what to do about my bags if I go out for last minute shopping.

It is funny how my two different groups reacted to the Wondo Guest House Hotel and Wondo Genet:  The first group was quite happy with the hot springs and OK with the hotel - I think we thought it was a treat overall despite some of the inconveniences; the second group found the hotel and the surrounding area and activities dissatisfying - especially after the Awassa Lake experience.  In any case, everyone seemed happy to leave Wondo Genet this morning and anxious to make their way to Addis and home (for them).

The driving from Wondo Genet to Addis was back along the way I have come before once or twice by this time.  I am always happy to gaze out the window and watch the scenes unfold - the fields, the people and animals walking along the road, all the different conveyances and types of loads.  In the beginning, I tried to take some photos with the zoom lens on the Nikon.  It is amazing how many things there are to see that I just couldn't capture - either I was too slow because I didn't see them ahead, or didn't decide soon enough, or something got in the way, or something was not quite right.  There were certain scenes that were so emblematic of my experience of Ethiopia that I did want a photo, but they eluded me, e.g., the little child silhouetted in front of one of the thatched huts, the donkey cart loaded with hay, the men cutting wheat in the fields, all the different types of hedges.  I was sitting in front with Aga and she commented that I must have lots of photos by now.  I agreed, but told her I was in pursuit of the perfect haystack!  The pursuit kept me busy for a long time.  Those haystacks are so wonderful - I do love them!  I did get a few photos but they are not the best. 

We stopped for drinks in one restaurant that I remember from before and then we stopped at Dreamland Restaurant on a little crater lake in Debre Zeyit.,, 50 or 30 km south of Addis.  This was another quintessential Ethiopian restaurant experience.  We ordered our drinks.  Another large tourist group came and sat down - got their drinks and then their meals before we ordered our meals I think.  We surmised that they had pre-ordered their meals.  We ordered - a lot of people ordered fish with the thought that it might be the last fish meal to be had at a lakeside restaurant before leaving Ethiopia.  I couldn't decide but when Leigh ordered "chips," I decided I would as well.  Someone noted that the waiter made a funny expression when anyone ordered them, but we were not discouraged or guided elsewhere.  Everyone else's order came and most everyone was finished or nearly so when our fries finally came.  This made our lunch much longer than anticipated.  By the end, I think anyone who had plans for Addis had given up on them.

On arrival in Addis, we went directly to the coffee shop - which was extremely crowded - but we managed to get our coffee in pretty good time.  Sian had seen a bag that she wanted and was afraid that someone would buy it before she got to the register, but there were several there so we were both able to get one.  Kibrom had mentioned we could stop at a music store but no one else wanted to, so I didn't get to have Kibrom's help in finding the music that the drivers had played during the Southern tour.  Oh, well.  Maybe I can find some on the web.

We made it back to the Ghion and I got my room and invited Sian to use it before we left for the farewell dinner.  The others had to cope with four or three to a room.  Sian got her bags sorted out in no time at all and watched and commented as I struggled to get my 4, or 5, or 6 bags consolidated into at most three so I could fly to Malta.  Luckily my green bag has the expansion zipper and I managed to get my sleeping bag, hat and coffee back in as well as all my clothes and miscellaneous stuff.  I still have my black daypack very stuffed and heavy and the red tote bag - so well color-coordinated is my luggage - with the overflow so it won't be too bad.  I hope.

At 7:30 pm we left in the bus for the restaurant - the same one I had gone to with the first group.  This time people looked at the a la carte menu and some chose meals other than the buffet.  We sat in the same place as before I think.  I went for the buffet and enjoyed it as much as before.  I had injera and various sauces and green beans and eggplant that were excellent and my lips tingled from the spiciness.  We watched the dancing.  I sat next to Seamus and saw him moving with the music and he seemed to enjoy the dancing.  I guess not everyone did - Jacinta said she hated this type of show.  Others found it too loud.  I have always liked folk dancing of different sorts - even if it is put on for a show, so I did enjoy it and even got to participate this time.  John danced too and did a great job!  Leigh took a video of it but for some reason, I can't copy it and put it into this blog.  Maybe that is a good thing.

Soon it was time to move along and settle the bill.  We always have difficulty here and Kibrom has often tried to sort things out for us.  This time we didn't realize what the problem was.  It took awhile as we sat waiting to pay up.  Finally it appeared that Kibrom had paid and we needed to pay him back.  In the bus, he explained that the restaurant would not give us a 20% discount because we did not all order the buffet so we had to pay more than we expected, but when you convert the birr into our own currencies, it was no great hardship for any of us really.  Most of us felt bad that Kibrom ended up with all this extra grief when he really shouldn't have to deal with our payment issues.  That said, he has played an invaluable role in facilitating our settling up because very often there is some issue or miscommunication with the restaurant.  For our first meal this am, the waiter had added in an extra soda and was thus short - through no fault of ours - but Kibrom gave him the extra money because the owner would hold the waiter accountable to have the money corresponding to the bill even if the bill was wrong. 

So after the cultural restaurant bill debacle, we went off to the airport and all the group members except for me got their bags and were ready for the next stage of their journey - the return home. 

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