Wanderlust Wendy

Oasis in Debre Zeyit

When Jenn asked whether I wanted to visit another ancient city or SPA resort on a crater lake, the answer was an easy one. They did call me Posh Corps back in the days after all. I enjoy rugged travel into the developing world, but I also enjoy the finer things in life that the developing world has to offer.

We woke up at dawn and headed for the bus station. The sun was rising and painted the sky a gorgeous golden color. We squeezed into a mini bus headed for Debre Zeyit, the town known for its many crater lakes. Bus travel in Ethiopia is much as I remember in Cameroon – 4 to a row. Though it feels more spacious since Ethiopians in this regions are slim, unlike the big Bamiléké mamas of West Cameroon.

The ride is as I remembered: dusty and bumpy when we hit the short stretches of unpaved road. Along the way, there were many Chinese presence to be seen. Major industrial parks, factories, roads, etc. Chinese New Year was just around the corner, and the families hung red lanterns at the door to celebrate. I was immediately curious by their presence. Who were the individuals? Do they speak Amharic? What part of China are they from? How do Ethiopians feel about them? Having finally lived in China myself, I am further interested by the relationship between China and the African continent.

The bus arrived into the town in less than an hour. We hopped into a bajaj (motorized rickshaw) and headed toward the Kuriftu Spa and Resort on Lake Kuriftu. Upon arrival, I was immediately impressed by the building that were full of character. We headed down to the lakeside dining room for the breakfast buffet. The lake reflected the sunshine and it’s surroundings. Ducks, birds, and other creatures whose name I do not recall were roaming peacefully on the water or around.

Post breakfast, we checked into our lake view room. On the twin beds laid rosemary stems and rose pedals. The bathroom sink were tiled with mosaic. Our porch has beds to lounge on, and a fireplace! It was far beyond expectation. The price point was high for Ethiopia, but very affordable by any Western standards.

The room rate not only includes access to gym, pool, sauna, etc., but also kayaks and a set of Swedish and foot massage! The next 24 hours went as follows: kayaking around the lake and said hello to the children and villagers, then it was poolside lounging, massage, and dining on repeat. At random intervals, the service staff came by with fresh juices. Hibiscus? I’ll take it. At sunset, there was a spread of finger foods, juices and wine concoctions for the guests. The service staff thanked us for our stay. The level of service was seriously impressive, especially since I’ve been living in Shanghai, where the servers couldn’t be bothered to look at you most of the time, much less smile.

All things are relative, I suppose. This type of oasis makes living in an African city rather attractive. It’s a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Life in African cities can be chaotic. Actually, life in any city can be rather chaotic. I told Jenn that if I lived in Addis, I’d pay quarterly visits to this oasis! Meanwhile, I relished the breathtaking sunset. The hues of sky were so clear, as if we were standing amidst a painting. The most beautiful sunset yet of 2014, and I was filled with gratitude for being there, at that moment in time.

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