Ato (Mr.) Ayele Menkir (a-YELL-ee) is a retired High School English teacher with great conversational skills, a deep knowledge of Ethiopian history, and a very savvy navigator of the treacherous Addis Abab roads. He was our driver, tour guide, interpreter, Grandfather-figure - and good friend for a week. After sitting next to him for many straight half-days, we became like a cop-buddy movie act, and I prided myself in trying to make him laugh. He has a big family with a daughter in Norway and one in Australia plus a few still in town. If he is reading this, I hope he corrects any of my "misremembered" facts! :)
Suzanne was just as enamored of Ayele, but not the 4-hours-a-days in the smoky, lurching traffic. The front seat was part history lesson and part laugh-fest, but the back seats were all loud. bumpy and quese-inducing (especially after taking Malaria pills with strong coffee on an empty stomach!) I could have driven around all day with our new friend, but Suzanne wanted to get to our destinations and hop on out!
Here's to Ato Ayele, a great man who was amongst the many people that made Ethiopia a great stop on our World Classroom trip.
Now, off to Mumbai, India on the redeye!