So originally, we were supposed to go to Merkato. Unfortunately, Merkato is quite empty on a Sunday, so we changed plans. The staff at the guesthouse told us about a place somewhat nearby to Addis called Debre Zeit. It’s famous for having many many lakes. On a whim, we decided to go.
However, by this time in the morning it was already 10am. This meant we had to get to Debre Zeit, do stuff, and then return by like 3/4pm because we had told Jelani that’s the time we would meet him. Realistically, it meant we had about an hour or two to spend there.
First, we took the buses from near City of Refuge Park to Kaliti. Kaliti is a big bus station like area with lots of other buses and taxis to places both inside and outside of Addis. Yosef told us to wait first as he scouted ahead for a bus to Debre Zeit (to make sure they didn’t rip us off). It cost around 20 birr to get from Kaliti to Debre Zeit, but we seemed to get there in record time. We arrived at another bus station area where we were immediately swarmed after we got off our bus. We actually had no idea where we wanted to go, so someone had to pull up a map so we could get an idea of where to go. Yosef just picked the biggest lake on the map and said we wanted to go to that one.
Somehow, Yosef negotiated with a guy about getting us to this lake. When we got there, it would cost 100birr for us to get a drink and also take a boat ride. This sounded pretty reasonable to us, so we followed the guy to his taxi. What awaited us at the end of following him was not a taxi, but a bajaj.
“He says if we all fit in one car, it’s 100birr,” said Yosef.
Feeling pretty adventurous today, we decided to fit seven people in a car obviously not made to fit seven people. Knowing what I know now, I probably would not do it again, but you know what they say: Ignorance is bliss. The first time, it was Arash, Yosef, Jessica, Rupal, Sahaana, and me in the back with Dim sitting up front. It was only the thought that it was a ten minute ride that got us through this ridiculous situation.
As we are driving along, Yosef suddenly has a thought. “You know, we could be arrested for this,” he says. I asked what he meant. He explained that it’s apparently against the law to have more than three ish people in a bajaj (but this is also from the guy who said it’s illegal to not walk on the white lines in a crosswalk so).
“Well, I guess our first meeting with Jelani will be him trying to bust us out of jail.”
We got to the lake safely. The guy took us to a place called Yoya Resort (very easy to confuse for Yoga Resort), and we all piled out of the car.
It was actually very beautiful. I love anywhere with water, so I was already excited. Having some forethought, we decided we should ride the boat first and then eat after. We get on the boat and the guy starts rowing us away. The ride was nice at first. Jessica, Rupal, Yosef, and Sahaana all give rowing a go. The ride turned sour when somehow, a water war broke out between Yosef and Dim. I really don’t know how it happened, just that they started throwing water at each other.
It escalated so much that the guy rowing commented that it’s so terrible that they’re messing up the nice interior of the boat with water. We basically got rowed back to the dock in silence. However, the war still wasn’t over yet. As soon as we got off the boat, they’re at it again. So much so that Yosef eventually ended up on the ground with Dim trying to drag him into the water for who knows what reason. Some girls who are already in the water decide they’ll help Dim and start splashing water at Yosef.
The aftermath was pretty bad.
So after this we got lunch at the resort. It took like thirty minutes to actually get food and then we had to rush to our bajaj because apparently he was leaving and not waiting. We had to walk to the top of the hill because of how many people we crammed into this thing, and then we were off again towards the city. We somehow got back safely and somehow made it into the right bus back towards Kaliti. At this point, I looked at my clock and was surprised at how on schedule we were going to be. At this rate, we wouldn’t be super late for our meeting with Jelani!!
From Kaliti, it was hell to find a bus back to Bole. We’d ask and the guys would just keep pointing us further down. Finally we found a bus but a guy from a minibus decided he really really really wanted us in his bus and started to physically drag us to it. At first we said no but finally we went because it was legit the only option that could get us back in time.
Once we were on and moving, the guy wanted us to pay more than what we knew was the actual price. Yosef stood his ground though and we paid him exactly what we knew we were supposed to pay. Somehow, we made it back to the guesthouse in time to not only meet the new people but to also meet Jelani.
We also wore our dresses out that we had bought the night before. There was definitely so much attention as we walked because we were wearing these. Miraculously, I didn’t get it dirty while walking or at the restaurant. Not exactly sure how that happened, but it did.