If someone (like, say, me) were to write a story about the last few months of my life, they’d start it with this (because this person is not a very good writer): Welcome to The Hotel Ethiopia. And, yes, you can check out but you can never leave.
At least that’s what it felt like.
Since my little incident occurred in December, I had been living in hotels (until recently, when I moved into my new place). Four different hotels to be exact (five if you count the one in Djibouti). I felt like Hugh Grant in Two Weeks Notice. But not really. If only this were Manhattan.
Life wasn’t all bad at The Hotel Ethiopia. It was two months of hot showers (save 10 days with a malfunctioning water heater at Papyrus), room service if I wanted it, maid and laundry service, and TV.
TV. That meant only one thing, really – soccer. Since each hotel had the same five channels – BBC World, Al Jazeera, MBC2, Super Sport, and blessed ETV – I fell into a routine. I’d catch the latest news on BBC, which plays the same five news stories on repeat it seems, or Al Jazeera. I’d see what awful movie was on MBC2.
And then I’d flip to soccer on Super Sport. There were Premier League clashes. I’d watch the same games over and over, didn’t care. There were some African Cup of Nations matches. Bundesliga, which I found a new respect for, was on display pretty frequently. Serie A also, though I’m still not a fan. I also was able to watch the Premier League Review Show, which I used to watch every week in the states. It was bliss.
It’s all about the ads
In addition to all this, I also got to see the same five commercials. Samsung products featuring Didier Drogba. A mobile to mobile money transfer commercial. Bank commercials. Coca-cola. It was interesting to see how products are marketed in a different part of the world.
Samsung touts its refrigerators’ ability to keep things cold even when the power goes out, as Didier, his fake daughter and a jello mold can attest. I can relate to that. Need to transfer money to your grandma in another country? There’s an app for that. People will brave being electrocuted or burned alive to get a Coke to drink during a soccer match. It’s the only way to watch.
I was struck by how, well, unsophisticated the advertising is. I had just finished watching Mad Men, so maybe my standards were higher? Also, I guess I didn’t really watch too many ads back in the states (thanks, DVR!), so I’m not up to date on the level of, um, sophistication in American ads, but these all seemed very simplistic, explicit ways to market the products. Hey, the jello is still cold! Press this button on your phone and send Grandma money! Coke is worth singeing your hair for!
The worst were the bank commercials, which, it seemed to me, were written for 10-year-olds. One such ad touting easy account funds transferring ended with the man’s voice-over saying, “And then I remembered I use (insert bank name) and I smiled” as the man on screened looked at his phone with the (insert bank name) logo and then – you guessed it – smiled. Brilliant, that.
The other one featured a woman at the airport check-in who spent all her money shopping (no way!) and couldn’t pay her fee for extra baggage. Thank god her husband had (insert bank name) and could transfer some money to her. Barf.
Anyway, after two months of living it up in The Hotel Ethiopia, I was ready to leave. Now that I’m settled in my house, I don’t miss the room service, the maids, TV, or hot showers. OK, maybe I miss the hot showers a little. But it feels good to be checked out of The Hotel Ethiopia and checked back in to LethiopiaH.