When no one knew that I would have left Ethiopia for good we went on a day trip to Entoto. Entoto is the mountain behind Addis Ababa, after a long and steep climb, on the deadly road punctuated by minibuses and cabs as slow as snails, you arrive in a majestic forest. I had been there many times before, to escape the city and enjoy the freshness of the river, the shade and the sound of the eucalyptus trees, singing in the breeze and simply the quiet. Addis lies beneath your feet, under a brownish cloud of smog.
Addis Ababa it’s a city you have to live: there’s no angle that makes it beautiful. Unless you live it. It either enters your veins or it doesn’t, there’s no middle ground.
And I remeber that day, not clearly, I probably also throw in memories of other days, but it doesn’t matter. That day, although not my last day in Ethiopia, was the beginning of my trip. It was the day I realized the trip was going to happen, that another world was there, beyond the mountains, the sea… There was something else.
I had made Addis my abode and somehow wished to see me there, I’m an adventuorus person but like all of those who fear whatever lasts “for ever”, I also cherish it, every time I drop my suitcase on the floor of a new house I think “Ahhh, home, this is it. For ever!”.
And then for ever never happens, or at least it hasn’t happened so far, and like a perpetual Ulysses I look for something better, or simply different, elsewhere. Everywhere is “home” as long as I know I will leave. That day in Addis I looked at the red earth of the streets and at the corrugated iron roofs beneath me and, like a modern explorer on the verge of a cliff, I looked far, beyond what my eyes could see, and I left.
The beauty of mount Entoto, the magic thing about it, is that it’s such a distant place, distant in essence, not in kilometres, that every time you go you come back a different person. A different Africa blossoms before your eyes there: an Africa that looks likes Scandinavia, a cool and silent Africa without people and without noises.
In Entoto, especially if you go alone, you have to be prepared to hear the sound of your thoughts. Nature swallows you and the trees seem to part to let you walk through them and close behind you, to hug you and conceal your from the world.
Of the many places I have left behind, more beautiful, more meaningful, I think back at Entoto and think that it’s probably the only place where I found peace.
For a day.