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Gays in the whore house

Travel

Gays in the whore house

We’re in a small African hut sampling a prepared honey wine, special to Ethiopia.

It’s one stone room, painted yellow with ragged posters of Bob Marley on every wall, worn down couches scattered about with one giant coffee table. We’re pushed to seats as some random guys move the table then vanish out a rear door to some unseen patio.

Traditional music pipes through crackling speakers as a troop of girls begin to appear, some bringing drinks. Bottles of wine for everyone. It’s impolite to share them, so one for each.

Beth, our Australian traveller extraordinaire, sits back with a sigh. We’ve been led right into a whorehouse.

Tapping me on the knee with a cackle she says, “Take your pick!”

I can’t help feeling sorry for them: stuck with three unabashedly gay men and two women. Not much of a payday with all that effort.

More girls file into the room, all shapes and sizes, wearing threadbare traditional dresses pulled tight over western hoochie gear, gyrating around the room, occasionally shouting in Xena-like wails, rotating position to give us all a peek.

In Ethiopia prostitution is a common career choice but this is our first exposure to it in full showroom overture. Beth is unimpressed, eyeing the men wandering back and forth with instructions for the girls, knowing they’re the pimps and ready to kill.

The rest of us ignore her warnings and try to get the girls to stop displaying their wares and interact with us. To their true intentions we seem completely oblivious, even as they peel off their robes to flaunt form-showing gear. We try to make friends of them all.

Beth’s discontent grows noticeable. The pimp in charge is a docile yet frightening gent who mostly ignores us until the bill is presented. His employees realize something is amiss, confused that we keep moving away from the girls trying to sit on our laps.

I dance blindly with a pack of them in the centre of the room finding the whole thing hilariously perfect for a day in Africa.

The women are trained collectors, pulling at our companions’ jewelry, boldly asking, “This is nice, can I have it?”

Well, none of us will be buying any sex today so we make to leave and the pimp in charge runs to claim our bill, more expensive than our entire trip to Ethiopia, all for wine, no booty.

Here $1 US equals ten birr, and everything is priced to the birr. Since purchasing items is really the only legitimate way to spread wealth, we have bought all sorts of goods during our stay but we’re at the end of our good fortunes with a bill priced very much to the dollar.

Matt laughs loudly, pulling out his travel guide to read out a description of this very situation, finally proving itself with a quoted “true-price” for such wines. Pimp-daddy is stunned. No one’s ever objected before; we’ve drunk his wine and now must pay, and for the girls’ wines too.

We agree to give him a modestly fair price for the bottles and not involve the police, an offer he considers reasonable.

Justin collects what’s left of the wine with vigor — “hellllo, paid for.”

We worry about the possible consequences of crushing their scam, but Justin assures us they have nothing to fear behind the wall. So we boot it, making our exit.

Were this AbFab, the experience would no doubt be the highlight of our journey. “Oh dah’ling, it’s so ridiculous — $700 birr a bottle, a steal dah’ling, a steal.”
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