The first thing you’ll probably notice when you walk into the Sheraton in Addis is that the air feels different. By which I mean, it’s perfect, in contrast to the hot/cold fluctuations outside. But you might be distracted by the ostentatious nature of the entire place; the grand entry, the secludedness, the way you instantly forget you’re in the developing world. Which, I believe, is the central aim of most of the patrons here.
We decided to stay here at the end of our trip as a treat. To recoup from our hike and general adventure in luxury. And unlike the general average nature of Sheratons in the us, the one in Addis is pretty incredible. The strange part for us at least is that the people inside walk around like they might be royals, temporarily displaced here. That sort of languid air that suggests the world waits for them. But of course, to us in our not optimally clean travel clothes and backpacks, it’s just where we decided to spend a bit more money for a nice stay. Granted, suits here run at $7,000USD/night. But we’re paying a few hundred for our king, with a terrace over looking the garden, hardly high-end back home. So it’s strange. Though the prices are decidedly midrange the clientele are the type that sort of wants to make you spill something on them, and then run back to your guesthouse by the time they’ve mustered the energy to send someone after you.
Regardless, it’s a treat to stay here, especially after 2.5 weeks of travel. We’ve celebrated the new year in Peru, Prague, and Guatemala in recent years, now in Africa we’re one step closer to celebrating on six of the seven continents (Asia and Australia left!).
This year was certainly strange. We ate a delicious Indian meal at the hotel. It’s a small place, with less than ten tables. Those dining near us were Addis elites, middle aged European expats and a group of young twenty-something expats, perhaps, peace corp or NGO. We were the only tourists, and I spent a good amount of time wondering about the lives if the expats, how they came here, what it was like to live long term in Africa. After dinner we meandered around the grounds. Around 11:30 we found our way to an outdoor space that had a live band. It was very, odd.
The local elite teetered dangerously in high heels, dripping in jewelry. The expats were about what you’d expect, including the slightly too slick sixteen year old in expensive suits testing their luck at the bar. The band played what I would assume would be the playlist at a wedding in the mid nineties. But when the countdown began we forgot out slightly bizarre drinking companions and toasted to a new year, and not just any year, but the year we’d get married!
I haven’t done resolutions in years, as I suspect like most people these days. But looking forward to this year, I can tell it’s going to be a spectacular year, not just because our wedding. I have no idea what’s going to happen, or where it will lead, and that is so exciting! A brand new year year, a clean slate ready to be filled with adventures. So, cheers! To the new year, to the end of an incredible year, to being thankful for everything this year, for family, friends, and adventures.
Bring it on 2014, let’s see what you’ve got!