Lake Langano

I’m going to skip my description of the rest of the week, jumping straight to what was definitely my best weekend here, the weekend at Lake Langano. The Cherokee group, along with Reid and Jeremy, two randar awesome dudes we met in Addis Ababa, chartered a minibus for 2000 birr to take us to Wenney Lodge for a weekend of care free relaxation; however, the idea of a restful weekend in Africa is similar to Communism: it works in theory but not in practice. Before we got to Lake Langano, our dreams of a perfect vacation blew up in our faces, literally, when a front tire popped on our bus, sending us careening across the two lane highway before coming to a stop next to a field of grazing cows and pantsless kids. I mean, I knew in Africa that people walk around naked, but I thought that Donald Duck was the only guy in the world that was both shirted and pantsless. Either these pantsless kids were about to see a doctor or they had just discovered Donald Duck’s sense of style. The latter theory makes more sense because one of them was wearing an old school Mickey Mouse shirt. You know what I mean by old school Mickey Mouse… the Mickey Mouse model that looks like he was drawn by a six year old coloring contest certificate winner. Three circles… one for the face, two for the ears. The only thing more idiotic than the attire of these disciples of Donald was the way we all sprinted into the field like a bunch of hippies. Before we knew it, we were surrounded by about forty tribal farmers who clearly didn’t speak a bit of English or Amharic, a fact which was proven by a few terribly arduous minutes of awkwardness as we all stumbled for their word for “hello” (which, with incredible irony, turned out to be “n**ga”… yes… n**ga… the Omhoric word for hello is n**ga). Anyway, we tried to break the ice with our idiotic dance, which went over about as well as using the Omhoric word for hello as a greeting in the US; the people just stood there looking at us with an expression that screamed “Why the hell would any human being do what you just did?”… which was probably a valid concern. Thank God, Jeremy and Reid cut the tension by turning back-flips. Before you could say “How do you learn to do a back-flip without paralyzing yourself?” we were sharing cookies, culture, and friendship with pictures, foot-races, videos, hut tours, spear-throwing, and, of course, marriage proposals by every Ethiopian group’s “token sleezebag”. Anyway, we walked back to the bus as I pulled Victoria and Rachel away from a creeper with the claim that they were my wives. Within a few minutes we were trucking towards Langano once more.
Oh no… the obstacles are not over. The next obstacle took the form of a 45 minute section of Agro Krag that is called an Ethiopian road, the bumpiest road I have ever experienced, seriously, a nine year old bus-rider’s dream. It felt like a rotting, wooden roller coaster during an earthquake. A bumpy road can be conquered through perseverance; however, no amount of determination or Vaseline will make a bus fit through a boxcar, which is what was used as a bridge, 4km away from our lodge. Just in case the bus would have fit through, there was the extra security measure of 2 guys with AK 47s, along with 2 guys with spears. We got out of the car and ambled towards them. I quickly seized the opportunity to say hello to them, figuring it would be the only opportunity of my life to say “N**ga” to a black guy with a big gun and live to tell about it. The mercenaries(?) offered to escort us to the lodge for 100 birr, but we declined to embark on the 4 km trek by ourselves. I don’t know how other people feel around guns, but even when I know they are on my side, I don’t feel protected in the slightest degree. I always just want to be away from them (however I personally value our second amendment rights). I mean, I also am for gay marriage, but that doesn’t mean I have to start painting my nails and saying “fabulous”. Anyway, the events of our hike were pretty awesome in the sense that it was now nighttime, and we had a 4 kilometer hike through villages, wilderness, and (the scariest part) the unknown. Our method for dealing with forks in the road was guessing, which paid off, because within an hour we had reached Wenney Lodge, a surprisingly nice (albeit hidden) touristy enclave in which we were the ONLY guests. The guest to employee ratio was about 1.5 to 1… pretty awesome.
I was going to explain the next day with great detail and attempts at great hilarity, but my mood right now does not match my desire. Either I am too lazy to write the paragraphs it would take to explain the awesomeness, or I am subconsciously aware of my inability to do so. The whole next day we had the kind of fun that doesn’t make sense, stealing a boat (to return it later… kind of like Page’s attitude toward restaurant materials), swinging vine to vine, seeing ancient graves, trying to communicate with a tour guide who had the vocabulary of a three year old, throwing more spears, seeing hippos, horseback riding, Martha teaching me to post, staring at wild monkeys and baboons, bringing justice upon men who didn’t respect the girls, bathing in the red lake, stomping on nettles, overusing the phrase “one by one”, mud fighting, chicken fighting, bone collecting, beehive watching, freaking out our horse-guides, being overtaken by mob mentality during a rainstorm (BOAT), guitar playing, getting hammered with a self proclaimed “bird expert-man”, chewing White-out flavored gum from the inside of a tree, Matt’s saddle breaking, becoming a human winged-anthill, learning to never trust the phrase “no problem”, seeing some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen, and, of course, thriving. Each one of these experiences could be a blog post in itself, but instead they will be random memories that I always carry, perhaps popping up in the occasional humorous dinner story. If my description of the day is full of holes, just fill the blank areas with awesomeness, and you will have a clear conceptualization of our experience. Although our day was flawed in many ways, all the terrible and totally sweet experiences melted together to form a strange perfection, in the same way that low and high notes are necessary for beautiful music, crescendoing in this moment:
Everyone was left behind as Matt, Martha, and I trotted up a mountain path as the sun set behind a couple gorgeous mountains. As I appreciated a breath of country air, Martha, who was probably feeling very introspective since her days in Africa were almost at an end, asked me “Hey, Watt, what has been your favorite part of your time here?” I answered as honestly as I could: “I guess… this is”. We trotted forward, and I felt the kind of happiness that is so present that you get a little scared.

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