Sunday, May 17, 2015

Back to Addis Ababa

I left Lalibela the morning after the day of my mule trek. I awoke that day feeling like i might die. Fever, vomiting, and excruciating soreness all over. Thankfully my sightseeing was complete or it would have spoiled the day, but as it was the day was mostly travel: Waiting around for a bus to get to the airport, waiting at the airport, flying to Addis, and then waiting for a shuttle to my hotel. By the time i arrived and settled, all i wanted to do was have a cigar and a bath and go to bed. A word about my hotel, i figured that by the end of my trip i would be worn down, tired, dirty - all of which are true - so i had booked my last two nights in Addis at the Hilton, which is super fancy. I felt like a hick walking in in the same outfit i've been wearing for the past 2+ weeks, smelling of sweat, mule, and probably vomit, but it was the perfect place to actually relax for a change and get some rest. And, as it turns out, there are lots of great places here to curl up with a cigar and enjoy some overpriced coffee.
Thankfully, my sickness turned out to be a 24 hour thing and i awoke the next morning read to take on the city.
I walked north of the hotel through a bit of a park like area and came upon a big church with a wedding procession outside. It was lovely, with people singing and clapping and drums being played as the couple paraded around the church.
I didn't get to go inside the church but all around it were giant tortoises, like the kind that may easily be 100 years old. That was neat.

From there i walked up to the National Museum, which houses a small but satisfying array of Ethiopian historical artifacts and artwork, in addition to the remains of "Lucy" the oldest or most famous found skeletal remains of an australopithecus, a precursor to homo sapiens, dating back about 3.2 million years, which is pretty amazing. (Look, i'm not a scientist. If you want some detailed info on Lucy, google her.) People all throughout my trip have been encouraging me to go see my "great grandmother Lucy" and they are understandably proud that we can presently locate the ancestors of all mankind to Ethiopia.
After that i walked further north past various traffic circles and busy street scenes, enjoying the walk and stopping for fresh mango juice or coffee.
I walked up to the university and wandered ariund a before checking out the Ethnographic Museum, which had a good art gallery as well as very interesting displays on cultural practices of people in different parts of the country. 
It was all very enjoyable abpnd quite walkable, though by the end of it i was content to stay in and enjoy a cigar on the hotel patio, by the palms.

Today i resolved to walk to the Mercato (yes, they use the Italian word for market). This was quite a walk from the hotel, made more difficult by the fact that i didn't have a maqp, but i knew it was in the north east and near a really big mosque and i was delighted that i was able to find it without havign to haggle for a taxi fare. I was less delighted that, being Sunday, the market was rather quiet and most of the surrounding businesses closed. It still made for a satisfying walk though, and one which i followed up by walking to Meskel Square and down Bole Road and back. Trust me, this was a long walk. Nothing of any great interest occurred, but it gave me my final glimpses of Addis before i head to the airport this evening.

And that, is pretty much that for Ethiopia. It has been a wonderful trip which has exceeded my expectations and has been a far easier trip than i expected. Terrific sights, cities, people, food, a d experiences. I only regret that i do not have time to see the many other parts of the country, which look so appealing. But it is back to work for me, with just a bit of a visit to Frankfurt en route.
Flying soon.

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