Ethiopian Journey–Addis Ababa


We spent a couple of days in Addis staying with my friend’s sister who lives there.  Addis traffic is incredible.  In a city with millions of people I saw only one traffic light and it was not working.  Most intersections are giant traffic circles and getting through them is a rather daunting task.  On the way to my friend’s brother’s house one day, we sat stuck for nearly one half hour–we could not get through the circle.  Finally, the passenger in the car to the right of us jumped out and stopped the traffic so we and his driver could get through.

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Additionally, it rained often, streets and buildings were under construction, and mud and potholes showed up everywhere.  This is a nice traffic circle.

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A nice day with little traffic.

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They were building a new rail line across the city hoping people would use the train instead of driving.

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This is a typical residential street in a newer part of the city.  A gate with a guard can be found at each end of the street.

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In other parts of the city, houses have walls around them and you back your vehicle out into a street like this, then go to the main street.

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Walls around houses are not bare.  Lush tropical vines and flowers cover many of them.

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Many of the fancier, famous hotels, like the Hilton here, contain fountains and gardens. My friend and I could not resist a photo in front of the pool and fountains.

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After wandering around the Hilton we drove to see the grounds of another famous hotel where foreign diplomats often stay.  The plants in the foreground are papyrus.

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These extensive gardens take a while to walk around.  Many of the plants and trees are labelled.  From here we could see the Addis skyline.

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We stayed in Addis a couple of days.  Before we left on a ten day road trip, my friend’s sister took us to a traditional restaurant.  I expected it to be filled mostly with tourists–was I ever wrong.

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In addition to traditional food, this restaurant features traditional dancing.  Many locals came to compete, to try to out-dance the professional dancers.

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The lady on the left, one of the professional dancers, and the lady on the right having a little competition.  The lady on the left is dressed in traditional dress.

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In the background locals try to out-dance the professionals.

 

My Ethiopian Adventure–Final Days


It took me a while to post this because I did not want the adventure to end.  Of course, it will never end in my heart and mind.  Nevertheless, this last post about my three week adventure brings a feeling of termination I have apparently attempted to avoid.  I spent the last few days of my trip, staying with my friend’s parents in Adama.  They took me on the wonderful adventure described in my last Ethiopian post, the day trip to Awash National Park.  Later, we went shopping for gold, silver, and textiles, ate, wandered around, visited, relaxed.  We listened to the Muslim call to prayer and the Ethiopian Orthodox chanting.  One day I heard another voice over the loud speakers and asked, “What is this one?”  The Pentecostals competing–three types of churches all on loud speakers, calling people to worship.  Because at least two of them start before dawn, it kept my friends up.  By this time in the trip, I had earned to sleep through it all.

I like the climate in Adama, especially after being cold for most of the first half of the trip.  It seemed I could put on multiple layers and still shiver.  Adama is nice and warm, hot, but not too hot.  Flowers and tropical fruits thrive as in the photos below–my friend’s mother’s lush garden and her elegant table.

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The plates are an Ethiopian design apparently only available there–Ethiopian figures in a circle. Even breakfast is a work of art.

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The neighbor’s grape arbor amazed me.  I have never seen anything like it.

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Zoning remains unheard of here.  Next to a new, well built, modern house where one or two families may live is a place like this or the one on the other side of my friend’s parents’ house where both cows and no one knew exactly how many people live.

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In the dark space in the middle of the above photo live two cows–if they have not been slaughtered by now.  From this vantage point I could see a minaret, a modern wind farm on the far hill, cows, goats, an empty lot, a luxurious looking house being built on the other side of this adjoining lot, everything from the most modern to the ancient.  Every bedroom possessed its own little patio.  The photo below shows the view from mine.

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So we would not have to make a mad rush to get me to the airport through Addis traffic, we went back to Addis the day before my flight out.  I took a few photos from the front of the Addis airport before I left.

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Due to the kindness of a complete stranger, I made my flight.  When I was about to go through the passport line, I discovered I had my friend’s passport which meant she had mine.  In Bahir Dahr, we had to show our passports to the hotel before getting keys for our rooms.  Apparently, the young man switched them when he gave them back to us.  We took them and put them away without looking.  My phone did not work in Ethiopia.  I experienced a major panic.  I had my Ethiopian friend’s phone number but no phone.  I explained to the guy checking passports the problem.  The man standing in line next to me heard and offered his phone.  He actually got out of line to help me.  I did not recognize his accent and have no idea his country.  He called the number for me.  The call failed to go through.  He waited, tried again.  Eventually, it all worked out and I made my flight, all due to this man’s patience and kindness.  When I finally made it inside the airport, several people who had heard the problem actually came up to me and told me they were worried I might not make it.  I knew none of them; yet they cared.

With a six hour layover in Dubai, I had a lot of time to wander, drink coffee, explore the airport, which is huge, really huge.  I bought some perfume–Muslim perfume with no alcohol in it.  I like it so much, I will have to figure out how and where to order it when it runs out.  Many of this airport’s shops are opulent.  People stood in line to buy gold, high end cosmetics, designer everything.  It is cosmopolitan, clean, efficient, fancy, welcoming.

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In this airport, I saw one of the women who was relieved to see me inside the airport at Addis after my passport scare.  She unfortunately experienced a frightening incident during the flight and they had to give her oxygen.  We chatted, she seemed fine finally.  As I write this, what do I remember most of those last 36 hours of the trip:  the kindness and concern of total strangers.

 

My Ethiopian Adventure–the Beginning


After leaving the US on July 2, flying 14 hours to Dubai, spending a day there, I finally made it to Addis Ababa (also spelled Abeba) on the 4th.  I remained in Ethiopia until this past Monday when I left Addis late in the afternoon.  Blog posting from Ethiopia was limited because wifi is available only in certain areas and places and there is no 2,3, or 4G anywhere.  For those of you who saw my four posts from Ethiopia, some photos and a few details may be repeated.  My plan is to post photos and detailed information now that I am back which will require a number of posts because not only did we go on a ten day road trip, we also spent time in Addis Ababa and Adama (Nasret).

I went on this trip with two friends, a couple.  Dino is from Ethiopia, having grown up in Dire Dawa.  His parents now live in Adama where his father owns and runs a printing press.  Two of his sisters and one brother live in Addis.  We spent the first few days before our road trip in Addis, staying with his sister, Anna, who owns a painting company.  She imports the paint from Italy and her clients include individuals and businesses.  Her company also paints cars.  Of course, she painted her own house with this paint.  I loved the colors and textures.

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The front of Anna’s lovely house.  It is the rainy season and flowers grow everywhere.

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The translation for these orange flowers, which I had never seen before, is flowers of the sun.

One afternoon four of us decided to take a drive around Addis to see some of the more beautiful spots which mainly included the Addis Hilton Hotel and the Sheraton, which is a five star.  Carlo, Dino’s father drove.  What a remarkable man, in his 80s and still getting to work at 6, driving everywhere.  The Hilton is the older of the two.  The grounds of both display lush greenery.

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Zuriash and I enjoying the grandeur.

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Papyrus by the pool at the Sheraton.

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The swimming pool at the Sheraton.  You cannot use it unless you are staying there.  However, the pool at the Hilton is available on a membership basis–you do not have to stay there to use it.

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The rooms at the Sheraton overlooking the gardens and pool.  Dino and Carlo, son and father, walking down the path to the pool area.  Apparently, many visiting dignitaries stay here.  Inside walls are filled with excellent local art.

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And then there is Addis traffic.  Approximately six million people live there.  In five or so days, riding here and there all over the city, I saw only two traffic lights, neither of which worked.  Most large intersections contain a traffic circle and around and around you go trying to wiggle into a space and get across the intersection.  Take a look.

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Trying to drive to Guiseppe’s house, Anna driving, we were stuck here.  The big trucks would not let us through.  Finally, a guy in another car, got out, stopped the trucks and waved us on.  It took us 1 1/2 hours to get there.  A couple of days later, he came to Anna’s in twenty minutes.

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In front of Guiseppe’s house.  A typical residential street, sometimes like this one with gates on each end.  People hire someone to watch the gates.  You honk and they are opened and then closed.

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On the last evening before we began our ten day road trip, Anna took us to a cultural restaurant to eat traditional food and watch the dancing from different parts of the country.  I expected it to be just a tourist spot, but no, many locals were there.  During the dancing, locals competed with the professionals to see who could dance the best.

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This dance requires almost no motion except a lot of shoulder action.  I attempted to do it myself when the man behind the girl in white came over and asked me to dance.  I tried but would have to practice forever to get this one right.

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The young men in the background competing.

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Anna and I in front of her house.  She is wearing a traditional Ethiopia dress.