I don’t really remember much of my previous two week visit to Ethiopia in 2006 except for the fact that I spent it mostly in Addis Ababa. I had already prepared myself for this trip as one to visit my father and to relax, so no sightseeing nor partying for me.
Daddy returned to Ethiopia in February this year because he was bored with retirement. He’s now an independent consultant with the African Union (AU), though I don’t know exactly what he does. But given that he was the former Ambassador of Ghana to Ethiopia/AU and countless East African countries simultaneously, he’s still part of the diplomatic community. I was met at the airport by someone from the Ghanaian embassy who proceeded to “make things easier” for me getting my visa, going through immigration, and getting my bags. I swear I have issues. You would think I would just relax and allow myself to be pampered but years of doing for myself makes me unable to be “proper”. Instead I was a bit pissed off. I can take my passport to immigration and get it stamped by myself, thank you very much! LOL! However, do I feel bad about cutting the line? Errrr, no!
The home is in a rundown neighbourhood of Addis by the Ghanaian embassy. A nice home in the middle of shanties led up to by a pot-holed riddled road filled with puddles of brownish water. It’s the rainy season. I’ve been here less than 24 hours and we’ve had brief episodes of light-out at least 6 times already. The housekeeper and I had walked to the nearby supermarket so I could get some ingredients to condition my hair – terribly dry from the Joburg weather and extreme activities I participated in while there. Banana, avocado, olive oil, honey, mmmm heaven to my hair. We blended them at home, but she suggested that we go over to a local hair salon for proper treatment. I was reluctant. I don’t have a good experience with others doing my hair. But then I said why not? I’m on vacation after all. Let someone else deal with my hair!
At the salon, they applied my concoction to my hair and sat me under a steamer for about 30 minutes. Then they proceeded to shampoo and condition but not before a very long discussion about combing my hair only with the conditioner applied. I must say that even though they used what seemed to be a fine brush, and it sounded like my hair was being ripped from the roots, there was actually very minimal shedding. They are lucky! My first salon experience in my life ended with a roller set and sitting underneath an unbelievably hot hairdryer. My only reprieve came in the form of a light-out halfway through. I can’t imagine women torture themselves like this on a regular basis. At the end they wanted to pass a hot comb (heated with fire – not electric) through my hair, but I had to pass. Enough heat torture already.
All said, my hair feels fabulously soft and bouncy. I don’t understand Amharic but while they were washing, conditioning, and combing my hair I heard the housekeeper tell them I was from Ghana. I can only deduce that my Afro hair was giving them real work. But at the end they told me in English that my hair was beautiful…which of course is the truth.
While at the salon, I saw the ladies prepare coffee the Ethiopian way. They roasted the beans on a coalpot, ground and added it to a kettle of hot water still on the coals, before sharing amongst themselves in these tiny porcelain cups. They invited me as well, but I don’t drink coffee. I did however accept the popcorn. That was a yummy snack.