(scroll down for parts 1-6)
The road that runs from Addis Ababa to where Levi lives is a gradual climb from already high country to even higher altitudes. At places, the road grows very steep and serpentined, winding its way up the ridges and down into the valleys. The passengers in the bus, sitting high above the road surface, sway back and forth wildly as the driver rounds the curves as fast as he safely can, and sometimes perhaps beyond safety.
As Levi and I sat in the bus, near the end of one of one particularly windy series of switchbacks, someone in the back of the bus called out some words which, being in Amharic, I of course could not understand, but the result of what he said was the passing back of a small, green plastic bag by the passengers sitting in the rows of seats and finally given to him.
“What’s that about,” I asked Levi.
“The guy is getting sick.”
I turned around in time to see that same of small, plastic bag go flying out of the window.
After that initial car sickness, every once in a while someone would call out. His unintelligible words (at least to me) were followed by the same passing back of a small, green plastic bag. Then, after a couple of minutes, that same bag being thrown out of the nearest window.
I have to say, that before this all started to occur, I felt fine. I don’t think I have been car sick (or bus sick, sea sick or any kind of sick) for decades. But after awhile, I wondered if I myself may not need one of those little green bags.
I did not know what words to call out, and at this point Levi was no help, since he was sound asleep in the seat next to me. Luckily, I managed to catch the eye of the bearer of the bags and motioned to him that I might be needing one of them. The bag was passed back to me through the lines of seats of passengers in the same routine and unceremonial fashion, and then handed to me.
I wasn’t sure that I would be getting sick, but I thought better be safe just in case. My stomach did feel a little unsteady. I think in New Zealand they called it the collie wobbles. As I said, I had not vomited for decades, so if the time would come, I was not sure if I would remember how to do it.
However, after a couple of particularly sharp turns, I found out that throwing up is, in one way, just like riding a bicycle – you never forget how. It was not long that I opened my window and threw out a little, green plastic bag.
Other than being interrupted by those unpleasant moments however, the trip from Addis Ababa northward to Dessie was a very interesting ride – my first opportunity to see Ethiopia. I asked Levi many questions, everything being so new to me. Why were the circular thatched roofs finished off with a clay pot at the very peak? What is the name of that breed of cow that has such large horns? How is it that in Ethiopia they drive on the right instead of the left? If Kenya was once under the British, do they drive on the left? How are those houses built out of eucalyptus sticks connected to the base? What is the name of that fruit and how does it taste?
How soon until we get there?
It was a role reversal – something like a father asking his son, “Why is the sky blue?”
Levi does not live in Dessie. It is his nearest city. After spending one night there, we will take another bus ride tomorrow. This one perhaps three of four hours long and even higher into the hills, to his village – Abejale.