Fast forward to our trip. Lalibella was cool, but definitely not the place for this. Next up was Bahir Dar, which I felt would be more appropriate. We arrived and planned to spend three days there. The first one was just hanging out, the second going to the Blue Nile Falls in the afternoon (where I would do my deed), and the third touring around Lake Tana in the boat and visiting the monasteries in the area.
On our second day, in the afternoon, I sneakily put the ring in my side pocket as we left our hotel room to grab the bus for the falls. We were waiting around the lobby for a bit, when the manager of the hotel told us the weather out at the falls was very rainy right now and it would be a bad time to go (it was the wet season in Ethiopia at the time). I, however, really wanted to push on regardless, given my pre-arranged plans. But he assured me we could go in the afternoon tomorrow instead, after touring the lake in the morning. I asked “but what if it rains tomorrow,” as we had to leave the day after that, meaning I would have to devise a new plan. But he assured me, “oh, it won’t rain tomorrow.” With that, we instead toured some sites around Bahir Dar that afternoon, which involved a small walk to a viewpoint of the city. I still had the ring in my pocket and was seriously contemplating making a move then, but thought it best to stick with my gut and the original plan.
The next day we met our tour guide in the morning, and proceeded to go in a boat around Lana Tana’s monasteries. It was a resounding failure, and put us in a really bad mood. To begin, our guide was a rookie, this was literally his first time taking people around. That was fine enough, I like giving people chances (unless they are pilots or pedicurists). He was very nice and spoke English well, though he had a hard time understanding us. What we thought we understood though, was that he was our guide, and not just someone tagging along for the ride. He apparently did not seem to understand that last part, and once we got to the first monastery, he explained that we would have to pay for a new guide there. All he had literally done was sit with us for a 45-minute boat ride across the lake, making awkward small talk. It was a bit of a fiasco, and we wound up paying for new guides, refusing to pay him, getting reimbursed by the hotel manager for the new guides we paid for, then ultimately paying him his fare, even though he provided absolutely no value to the morning whatsoever (the boat driver, supposedly ‘unskilled labor’ as our guide implied, spoke better English and knew more about the area than he did). We also cut the morning tour short, because we were incensed at the idea of paying for a new guide at each and every monastery (we were supposed to visit anywhere from three to eight). So we arrived back at home not in the best of moods. Not the way I had imagined the morning of the day we would remember for the rest of our lives (though in my imagination there were also a lot more dinosaurs carrying exotic cheeses around).
After getting some lunch out in town, we walked back to our hotel to get ready for the trip to the Blue Nile Falls (and pray that various Ethiopian rain gods in fact did not exist). On the way back, a group of three young female tourists stopped us on the side of the road and asked us if we were Spanish. That was an odd question, but many people in Ethiopia had assumed we were Spanish so far on the trip, though usually other Ethiopians (to their credit though, I did happen to be fighting a bull while taking a siesta on a bed of paella at the time). We said no, and they seemed a bit dejected and puzzled, which made me wonder why they were wandering the streets of Bahir Dar looking for Spanish tourists. But then they asked if we were going to the Blue Nile Falls this afternoon. We said yes and they were less dejected (however I became more so). They said they might come along on our trip as there were empty spots in the car. Great I said enthusiastically out loud, but sarcastically inside. Before we had been the only ones signed up, and I obviously was hoping for a little privacy. But they were just getting lunch now and we were scheduled to go soon, so I figured they wouldn’t make it back in time, and we would indeed be on our own.
We got back to the hotel and were ready for our 3:00 departure. The three female tourists, who we discovered were from Israel, were nowhere to be found. This was looking good. However we did not depart at 3:00, but instead waited around for some time. This is what happened the previous day, before we ultimately were not able to go. I was preparing for the worst, and began racking my brain for other suitable locations on our trip. However once all hope was lost, the manager decided that we were leaving. It seemed like it would only be us and we headed for the car . . . when we saw the three Israeli tourists enter the hotel compound and walk right into the vehicle. We were all in it together now I suppose (though in some ways, this development technically gave me some backup options in case Christine felt more ‘seasick’ than overjoyed).
to be continued . . .