This being my last full night in Ethiopia, I invited any of the cast who was able and willing to join me at The Village, the bar and restaurant just a few minutes away from the apartment, though I made it clear that there was no pressure; Binyam has gone on many times about how they were always asking him for money for transportation.
I chose to sit on the other side of the room, where there was a better space for a larger group to congregate, and discovered that they had a large-screen TV there. What was more, they were showing highlights of the Carabao Cup, including West Ham’s win against Arsenal, so I was able to eat (Half of) my pizza and enjoy a beer. Alazar turned up shortly after that game had finished, full of praise for the performance, and some gentle apologies that things had not always been smooth, which I brushed aside. He gave me a present, a sort of triptych of paintings of Ethiopian village life, which was a nice gesture, and then said goodbye, while assuring me that the others were on their way.
Which indeed they were, all of them except for Atala and Yebsira, dressed up smartly. And we had a most pleasant time. There were a couple of songs, a poem, several speeches, all summarised for me by Hana, the best English speaker there, though it was difficult to hear her in a noisy restaurant. But I caught the general gist, that they were grateful to me (likewise), and that they wished to stay together forever – a tad ambitious – to create more theatre.
There were some presents at this point: another triptych (seems to be a thing here), a book of poems in Amaric, and a shirt for me and a scarf for Val. And then I sang the chorus from Goodbyee, that being the most appropriate thing I could think of at the time, gave each one a(nother) hug, and left them to it.