…and maybe I deserved to be confronted about asking for more than my share at the restaurant in Dilla. I already had four sheets of “softie” (sic) toilet paper in my room. Either the owner/manager/resident drunk had taken offense that I kept asking for toilet paper or I had said something that mistranslated in a BIG way. He sprang up and at me in seconds as if i had groped his friend sitting next to him. Ready to fight…was all I could feel coming out of his stance. “Toilet!?, show me your room. Open room!!” As two others walked me over towards my 10 dollar a night suite: perks included no electricity, no running water, a broken toilet handle and an enormous spider and even bigger cockroach. “No room…paper, toilet, PAPER, please.” Let’s chalk it up to miscommunication or my bowels that were on fire. I was a heap of nothing, a dehydrated shell of myself, wishing these guys meant well and understood, but it felt like something that was going to go from badder to worserer. Finally my neighbor to my right, a friend and colleague from Addis opened his door and pronounced in his underwear and a tee-shirt at the front door of his room, “SOFTIE”…all the other guys melted, laughed and in unison said, AAAHHH….Softie, Ishi, Ishi”
Of course, I made a run to get back to my room for some quick business after the owner/manager/resident drunk came back from a dark room full of ladies in waiting and handed me 4 more pieces of tp gold. One sacred foot of resolve. This was all of 30 minutes of inventory, but it was better than, well, newspaper and tea inventory reports that I had in my backpack. I scurried back, defeated but hopeful to kill that giant spider and the cockroach that was making a move for my bed. Now safely back in my room, headlamp on and all the other other sundries that come along with this palacial Dilla spread, I was living the East African dream. Granted all of this was my fault. The night before I got talked into eating raw bull meat that had just been killed that day at a coffee farm in our honor. How could I say no. Now, and maybe for a while to come I will be asking myself, Why…customs and culture or not. Giardia is a bitch, and this was the only word on my mind…oh, and Cipro. Must take cipro.