Ethiopia

I had about an 8 or 10 hour layover in Addis Ababa.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but due to the long layover I was eligible to get a hotel voucher. But I didn’t know this so I went ahead and booked a hotel before I flew out. Then when I got there to the airport they informed me that I would be getting a voucher. Ugh! But I am glad I went to the hotel I did because I met some cool tourists. The airport and immigration process was pretty much a breeze, but I did catch wind of a woman having some words with someone who worked the airport about how she had been locked up in Yemen or something and didn’t have her passport and she was unable to get in or out of the country. I was quite glad I wasn’t her.

Upon getting past immigration however, I found myself in a bit of a mess (when am I not?) because I hadn’t written down my hotel information. It was in my phone and my phone was dying. I needed to use my laptop but couldn’t because there were no outlets and no internet access. Someone helped me though, and while I don’t quite remember what I did (I think I found an outlet and charged my computer? I forgot for whatever reason) I was able to find where my hotel was.

Someone at the airport also helped me to score a cab, but the guy ended up charging me a whole lot as I would find out later when I spoke to someone about it. And the hotel was literally a hop, skip and a jump from the airport. I could’ve walked there if I had known the way. (It seems taking taxis from the airport in many countries costs you a lot more for whatever reason. I guess one can prey on tourists in this way; people arrive in a country for the first time and they need transportation and don’t know how to negotiate/don’t know a fair price for a cab so it is easy to rip them off). Anyhow, I found my hotel which had quite an interesting set up. Wish I had taken a picture! The room was very simple and a little worn down, but I don’t think I paid very much for it and this may be par for the course in Africa when on a budget. I dunno- I will find out when I go there again. (Hopefully soon).

I forgot why I wasn’t able to/didn’t take more pictures in Addis (someone’s having memory problems). I think we weren’t allowed to take pictures in the museum where we went, which is a shame because it was a museum all about Ethiopia and its cultures, history and art (but whose name escapes me. I swear, I really did go to Addis!). If and when I go back I’ll be taking a lot more pictures! The two pics I did snap were of the restaurant where I went with the Sudanese and German tourists I met. We also went together to the Museum. I met them at the hotel (where I essentially didn’t stay but basically used to store my stuff while I explored Addis). They were really nice and friendly, especially the Sudanese guys. They payed for the food and helped us negotiate with cab drivers to get around the city. This partially inspired me want to go to the Sudan on my next trip.  While outing with them they said something along the lines of because it was our first time in Africa, and they were African they wanted to help us and show us a good time. I have heard that the Sudanese were very very hospitable and this proved it to me. While the Sudan and Africa in general have a bad reputation for war, poverty and famine, many people are not aware of the immense hospitality. I hope to experience more of it when I go to the Sudan.

Walking around in Addis I found that they people were very beautiful. While there are many ethnicities in the country, a lot of them have a distinct look. Their hair and their features are quite attractive and unique in my opinion. There were the usual beggars who upon seeing us white westerners (the Germans and I) immediately came up to us with their hands out. We stopped by an Ethiopian Orthodox church but for some reason we weren’t allowed to go in. I guess it was the middle of a ceremony or something. We saw people dressed in white robes like this:

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I bought a little wooden Ethiopian cross on the street nearby. I did all of this while I was still sick amazingly enough. I could’ve slept in my hotel but I would’ve missed seeing Addis.

While the roads seemed a bit rough and the sidewalks non-existent, the city was relatively modern. They had shopping malls. When we went inside we participated in a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony which was pretty cool. I don’t remember how good the coffee was but I think it had a lot of caffeine in it.

After the museum we went to a traditional restaurant. The Sudanese suggested ordering a fish dish, which I hadn’t tried before, and I have eaten a lot of Ethiopian food. In fact, I didn’t even know there was an Ethiopian fish dish. Maybe it is something they only serve in the country? It was served with the traditional spongy bread which I have nicknamed “toilet paper bread”,(yes, it’s somewhat crude but the bread rolls up like toilet paper). We all shared it and I was able to get a little bit of it down. I wanted to eat more but it was rather spicy and I was worried it would make me even more sick. I’m not 100% sure how I made it through that day but being the stubborn traveler that I am I wanted to see all I could.

After dinner I headed back to the hotel to gather my stuff and catch the flight to India. The Sudanese guy (the one in the lower right corner) kept saying “we will miss you”. It was very sweet but I kind of wondered if he meant it in a flirtatious way. I have his contact info somewhere. The German tourists (a guy and his mother- the first time I met this kind of traveling duo) were going to be spending a month or more in Ethiopia. I’m sure they had an amazing time.

My only complaints about Ethiopia were getting ripped off by the cab driver and not being able to see more of the country and all the different tribes and landscapes that the museum had pictures of.

The more and more I travel the more I realize I need to sloooooo dooooown. But taking advantage of layovers is a good thing. I also had a similarly long layover in Tokyo which you can read about here.

 

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