Gym

Locking my bedroom door I head for the front of the apartment. Kyle is asleep. I turn the light off and use my flashlight to find the keyhole. Setting down my extra pair of shoes I lock the door again behind me and set off down the breezeway. It is dark out, and cool. The sun has just set. I head down the stairs and down the rocky road away from our apartments. About a minute later I am turning the corner and walking towards the steps of the towering building that houses the gym on the top floor, my destination. At the top of a flamboyant set of stairs I am frisked by a guard clad in military green, he checks my bag. Approving, he gestures me in. As I walk in I gaze up and up through an open area through the floors above. Colourful exercise balls hang at different heights all the way up to the roof where a glass dome seals off the upward tunnel through the floors. I look at the elevator, if the power goes out I guess it’ll just be and adventure. Besides, they must have generators for an operation like this.
.
I step inside the silver lift and am greeted by the image of myself in a large mirror. “Closing door”, says a feminine English accented voice. “Going up”. At the fourth floor I step out and am immediately greeted by the potent smell of pool chlorine and warm air. Why I wonder, there’s no pool. Perhaps for the sauna, or steam room?
.
I speak with one of the guys at the counter; I tell him that I want a one-month membership. He is very helpful and friendly. He fills out an invoice and I pay him with a wad of birr. I receive a blue bracelet with a locker number and head off through several glass doors and into the men’s change room. Swiping my bracelet across the tab on my locker, it buzzes and pops open. Fancy. I change my shoes, take out my water bottle, and put my bag in. It’s time for the gym.
.
The first two treadmills are taken, but no worry, there’s a billion more. I step on one and begin to run, I’ve never been on a treadmill before, and it’s an interesting experience. I can watch myself as I run around the football field track, apparently I can watch TV too, or plug my IPod in and watch movies, but I’m not to interested. Instead, I look out in window in front of me at the awesome view that unfolds before my eyes. I am looking at the lights of nighttime Addis; it is incredible. After running for a short time I step off and go to the ‘stretch area’, then hop back on the treadmill for another few laps. Sweating, I wander off to find something else to try. A group of guys stand around the reflex machine. It consists of three posts, each with three black bags on them, evenly spaced. A red light flashes randomly on different bags, and you have to hit it. They would love this at karate. I can tell that most of these guys have never done martial arts before by the way they are awkwardly bending and leading head first when they strike. After they leave I take my turn, but to my dismay I am just as unfit as I thought I was. Better get back in shape then come back.
.
I came back several times, slowly increasing my score.
.
It is busy, but not to busy, and you can always get the machine you want. If not there are no long delays, and plenty of empty equipment to occupy you. The equipment is all state of the art, there are no lifting weights on and off, it is all adjusted by the simple adjustment of a pin or peg. There are machines to work every part of your body you can imagine, I exercise muscles I didn’t even know I have. I’m still a little stomach sick, and after a while I can feel my food coming up. It’s time to move on.
I wrote this last week, apparently now I switch from present to past tense.
.
The guy that had signed me up at the front desk came by to see how I was doing; I asked if I could go to the roof. He grabbed a basketball and I followed him up. The roof was empty, and a cool breeze blew across my face cooling the sweat. Talk about an incredible view, here was one to remember, and to have it all to myself, except for this guy. He stayed to play basketball with me, we talked and took shots; his English was relatively good.
.
He asked if I knew any Jehovah Witnesses in Canada, I said yes, they come to my door. He smiled and asked why I thought of them, I told him that I’m Baha’i. He was interested. He asked other questions, if I had read the Bible etc., and I asked similar ones of him. I told him a little about the Baha’i faith. He asked if I would be interested in learning about the Bible, I told him I’d love to. He was also interested in learning about the Baha’i faith. He asked me what I believed about the beginning of creation, and if I believed that the world would become a paradise again like the time of Adam and Eve. He was getting pretty specific with his questions. I said yes, I did, but I didn’t believe it would be the same as the Garden of Eden. I told him that I thought ‘paradise’ was a metaphor for unity amongst mankind. He seemed interested by this, but I’m not sure that he fully understood me.
.
The sweat on my face had cooled due to the breeze, and it was getting chilly. We headed back downstairs and I went to my locker. I was about to have a shower when I realized I had forgot my flip-flops. Yes mom, they are very useful. I headed out without a shower.
.
“You don’t want to have a shower?” he asks as I pass the front desk.
“I didn’t work out that much” I reply
He laughs, “You are a true friend now” he says.
.
I head through the glass door and am immediately ushered into the elevator by another green clad guard. “Closing door”, says the voice, “Going down”. I look at my face in the mirror; my nose is sunburned. I need to find some sunscreen. “Ground floor” goes the voice, “opening door”.
.
I say goodbye to the guards and walk down the steps, stepping back into the rocky alley, back into Africa.