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  • Writer's pictureRogue Chemist

Resting bitch face

Since I was beginning to feel better from the tinidazole, my ambition for another mini-adventure (likely my last before returning to Addis Ababa) started to resurface.

With inspiration from my trusty guidebook and after consulting with Atirse, I decided to visit Chebera-Churchura National Park for a few days following my stay in Bonga, again using Jimma as my overnight pivot point.

In theory, it wouldn't be too difficult to get there, a trip involving a series of short minibus rides: from Jimma to a town called Chida (maybe two hours); Chida to Ameya; and another to Chebera, where the park entrance is located just beyond the village. The park is most famous for its forest elephants, but a plethora of other animals roam freely here, including hippos and buffalo. Even lions and leopards are said to stealthily prowl around the area. Given that I had only sighted colobus monkeys and baboons in the way of exotic wildlife up to that point, I was motivated enough to make the effort. I figured I could always turn back if it turned out to be a tougher excursion than I had the mental stamina for.

But alas, it just wasn't meant to be.

I slept horribly the night prior to my departure from Bonga and hoped to have better luck in Jimma. My room at Coffee Land was noisy and far too humid for that, so again, next to no sleep was had. Despite the insomnia spree, I wilfully packed my shit and boarded a bus bound for Chida around 7:30 am equipped with a resting bitch face. There was just no hiding it this time.

I don't know exactly what the trigger was⏤maybe it was the gawking expressions directed at me by the locals on board, the obnoxious, loud music being played by the passenger in front of me, the sticky bus floor, or the little girl periodically touching me out of bold curiosity⏤but my brittle composure was deteriorating fast and meant I had about 45 minutes of patience in me, ticking away like a time bomb. Naturally, every unpleasant sensation and stimulation is amplified when you haven't slept, and as I mentioned before, buses here leave when full; there are no fixed departure schedules except when traveling on a coach operated by a bus company.

Since the bus was maybe 85 percent full after 45 minutes and given the custom to fill to overcapacity, my inner time bomb exploded and I said fuck it (in my head, at least). This was my "can't even" point. It's times like these that make me vow to seriously take up meditation (which probably would have helped with my sleeplessness, too).

With the confused locals gawking after me, I hauled my bags off the bus and checked into Central Jimma Hotel (across the street from Coffee Land), "splurging" on a quiet, fancy room (somewhat randomly with a very creepy scarecrow staring back at me from outside the window) that I judged should guarantee a good night's sleep (as long as the curtains were closed). I then immediately bought a bus ticket to Addis (costing 218 birr) at the little kiosk in front of the bus station for the following morning at 5 am via Gudar Bus, a long-distance coach service.

The power was out at the hotel, but I didn't care. I stood like a zombie under the hot shower in the dark for a good thirty minutes before faceplanting into the big, comfy bed.

When I ventured out for lunch at Café Variety (where the food and fresh juice far surpass Central Jimma Hotel's, in my opinion), I took my resting bitch face along with me, finding it very difficult to resist the urge to flip the finger to every punk kid shouting "Faranji!" my way. With a glare concealed behind my sunglasses and no-nonsense walking pace, I contained my wrath and returned to the protective bubble of the hotel complex. I noticed a handful of Westerners staying here, who I bet were associated with the university, but I kept to myself and dozed away the afternoon in the sanctuary of my room.

I chastised myself a little bit for "throwing in the towel" by prematurely heading back to Addis, but I knew there was no backpacking tribunal wagging their fingers at me and denouncing me as a failure. Chronic sleep deprivation next to no clean clothes, the recent recovery from dysentery, and dwindling tolerance and energy reserves all contributed to my decision. I knew it all signaled the near-end of my adventure, but my optimism was still in check.

I had barely scratched the surface of Addis at the beginning of my trip⏤the city offers plenty to do in the way of restaurants, museums, nightlife, music, and shopping. This was an opportunity to explore the city in more depth and allow myself some time to rest before returning to Germany.


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