We spent our first full day in Adama with Brooke. We have been blessed with a very helpful translator to travel with us. When we asked Brooke what she would like to do, that she hasn't been able to, she said it was to go and see the river. The river is called Awash and it charges an admission as a spa, because it has hot-springs. The cultural differences between Ethiopia and America are vast but I've never been as puzzled as I was today at the "spa". Brooke wanted to bathe in the hot-springs and brought a bathing suit. There are clearly marked men and women sides to the hot springs as clothes were also purely optional. There was a open dressing room, single shower to shower in freezing cold water required before soaking in super hot hot springs. As a bonus, there were three squatty-potties, one with a large rock that you could use to hold the door closed (my personal preference.) What was so cultural different were the men and teen boys who kept strolling through the women areas and there was no alarm. They never went down to the hot springs, yet the bathers were clearly visible from the points where the men walked. The walking around attire ranged from full Muslim burkas to wet undergarments with scarves wrapped like towels. It was interesting. What else is so unAmerican is the gorgeous hotel cottages they are building, with probably hefty rental fees, yet the ground everywhere is littered with garbage. There is no attempt to keep the ground or river clean.
As I doubt you are thinking, the best part of the spa experience, is the feeding of the monkeys. While they are wild, they have learned that visitors often bring bananas and they have gotten quite tame. After a briefing from a trusted Bethesda Doctor, I learned monkeys can have rabies, so I had sworn off getting that close. Today's adventure, however, put a monkey in my lap - quite literally. We bought many large bunches of bananas and the little boogers aren't real patient. After feeding them for some time, when we got back in the van, they would attempt to board with us. The driver had a stick to keep them out. In an effort to feed the last few bananas to a few approaching monkeys from my window opposite of the door, I opened it and threw a banana to a monkey. In a split second, another monkey swung through the window, into my lap and was face to face with me. My hysterical scream didn't faze him in the least and he only exited when I threw the banana out the window. He dove after it. I don't have a photo of that but I think I was doing mental math of the cost of being medically evacuated due to potential rabies contraction from the very monkeys I had been warned about. Here's a shot of the monkeys, although our videoes are much more fun.
I seem to have no control of where the pictures place themselves, so just look around for what makes sense. We had an interesting police stop on the way to the resort also. The police waved us over when driving past. In previous visits, they generally just ask where the pale faced visitors are from and then smile that we are from America and let us continue. Profiling is alive and well in Africa; we cause a lot of trouble just being so pale. This time the police did not ask us anything but we're very firm with our driver and obviously demanding something he did not have. He showed his lisence and registration but the officer was obviously not impressed. After some time on the side of the road, the translator told us that he was legally required to have a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher in the vehicle to legally transport foreigners. We found that quite hysterical, as the seatbelts cut out of the van was not a problem, but they wanted to make sure we had band-aids on board! Again, different culture.
Please humor me with this photo of Deb taking advantage of the spa facilities and washing her feet in the lovely accommodations while Brooke soaked in the springs. I had left her my purse and Brooke's backpack with her while I had journeyed to the squatty, so she was loaded down like a pack mule. I know you are thinking that we are living it up here now!
In spite of pushing the monkey picture lower and lower, I want to show us with Brooke at the river edge. Brooke has never gotten in water, even a swimming pool, and is quite frightened of the idea.
That is all tonight, tomorrow we are going to attempt to get in with a dentist here in Adama; Brooke has double eye teeth and needs two pulled. The driver said an appointment isn't needed, so we will see. I wanted to go shopping along the market, but I really don't think we can here. We have not seen any other whites and the prices drastically increase when we walk near anything. I think it's better going in Addis for shopping.
Here's the monkeys and it's time for me to crawl under my mosquito net.