Our guest, Eric Sorensen, whom if I am to believe the guide who took him around town on the first day, looks just like Clint Eastwood in his later incarnations (think ‘Bridges of Madison County’) had a great time. I went to have dinner with him on one of the trek’s stops in the great sprawling grounds of the Cheshire centre which has been devoted to the rehabilitation of polio patients for the last 50 years (!) and now works with noma patients as well.
The centre was first given to Cheshire by the family of the late emperor, whose daughters used to stay out here. In fact, there is a truly ancient gentlemen who still hobbles down the road and who tells me – every time I see him – the story of how he used to follow His Majesty when he walked around the countryside there. Apparently His Majesty had many ‘tiny dogs, shaped like banana’s.’ The elderly gentlemen always chuckles about this, then shakes my hand whilst shouting ‘Buon giorno! Buon Giorno!‘
But Eric Sorensen, who runs a wood fitting business in Long Island – he mostly executes complicated curved hand rails with machines he builds himself – was not taken for an Italian, nor was he much impressed when I told him looked like Clint.
‘China! China! Chinaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa !!!’ was what he’d heard over his trek, and he marvelled at a place where he, a man of Scandinavian descent, could be taken for an Asian. I told him that we were all Chinese now, but he seemed nonplussed nevertheless (as was young Sam, a fiery seven year old who rode to the forest a few weeks ago with his same aged cousin. He had a thing about the Chinese taking over the world, and I’m afraid that being mistaken for a Chinese on his Ethiopian holiday did not assuage this fear. I have to add that I just finished reading Jonathan Watts’ When a Billion Chinese Jump, and can see where he was coming from).
Here is the little villa, said to have once been slept in by the emperor and his daughter, in which we stayed:
Cheshire will be celebrating 50 years of work in the Menagesha centre in the autumn.
Last week, we posted a leopard picture taken about two kilometres from here. Here is the leopard’s meal on wheels.