March 28, 2011

A visit to Ethiopia

So, Sam and I went and saw Castanets on Saturday night. It was a good show but was totally overshadowed by what happened next. We were ready for adventure. Which led us to Club 2122, that scary looking bar on Vancouver isolated from the surrounding neighborhood by a large chain-link fenced superfund site and gravel encrusted lots. Thankfully there was a ten dollar cover so we decided not to go in. I'm not saying anything bad would have happened, but apparently it's one of the more notorious bars in Portland and has had many a run-in with the police and the OLCC.

We continued on our way and ended up standing outside the Sengatera Ethiopian Restaurant by my house. And then we went inside. It was dark, with some disco lights and little bar in the back. A large group was huddled around some tables in the back corner. There are twin dwarves who often hang out in front of the shop next door. I see them when I'm driving down MLK.  One of them was the bartender and he was sitting on a very tall chair. We sat down at the bar and ordered an Ethiopian beer on the bartender's recommendation. It was incredibly sweet and malty and pretty hard to choke down. I should note that they had a fairly well stocked bar but it was divided in half. One half was the normal array and the other consisted solely of Johnny Walker Black Label and Hennessey. Like, ten bottles of each all lined up in a row. When we were almost done with the hideous beer the lady sitting to our right ordered us two more. I started talking to her and she told me about her family and her boyfriend and moving from Somalia and her life in Portland. She was so nice. Sam bought her a drink and then we starting dancing to Ethiopian pop music with some of the guys in a line dance of sorts.

The best thing about this was how much it felt like a visit to a foreign country. It made me miss that feeling you get when you travel. Your guard is down. People are speaking a different language (in this case, Somalian). You are something different, a novelty, and you aren't surrounded by the same people with beards and hoodies and bikes. It was nice to talk to someone who didn't move here because they had finished their liberal arts degree and decided they wanted to be an artist or an organic farmer. I'm not saying I am anti- these things. I'm not at all. But sometimes it seems like everyone's story is the same, their background is my background, their experiences are just like mine. It's good to remember how incredibly different people are.

And that beer gave me the worst hangover ever. Which makes me pretty glad I don't live in Ethiopia.


Kyle said...

Ugh sweet malty beer is the worst.

Sounds like you guys had a great adventure after the show though.

colleen k.d. said...

i "like" this.