Saturday, 1 October 2011

Ethiopia's "New Flower"

From the Lonely Planet:
On first observing Addis Ababa ("New Flower" in Amharic) a little over a century ago, one foreigner called it 'noisy, dusty, sprawling and shambolic'.  Over the next century this tented camp has morphed into a modern business centre and Africa's fourth-largest city, yet travellers still turn up and utter the same phrase.  If that isn't reason enough to discount first impressions, we don't know what is!
Well, with due respect to the LP, it's still a spot-on description.  And we ought to know, we've been here all of two days... It is noisy, it is sprawling and it is shambolic.  The traffic is terrible.  Like most (all?) African cities, public transport's a joke when it's not non-existent.  And I wouldn't be crowing about being Africa's fourth-largest city, either, considering those above on the list: Lagos and the like....
Gordon and I've been out on the town, "doing it", in a new Mercedes rented from the Sheraton ($US 50 for two hours), been to the places suggested by the LP: the Holy Trinity Cathedral (motto: "I've seen better days"),  and the Ethnological Museum (motto: "me too"),  the tomb of Haile Selassie (he of "how-do-you-do-I'm-Haile-Selassie"; "how-do-you-do-I'm-highly-delighted" fame), the presidential palace, bought some groceries and we're back within the two hours.
Gordie's about to head off to pick up the Magic Mustang, which has had some new leaf springs made for it (three leafs broke off on the "Road from Hell"),and the muffler welded.
Other cars -- the MGB and the MG Magnette -- are still in Awassa, 250km back being put back together, the Magnette after it virtually fell apart in toto on the road.
It's a fine arvo in Addis.  I think it's like this pretty much most of the time, as we're high and close to the equator, balmy air-conditioned air....
We're off at 5 in the morning again, to Lalibela, a medieval village a few hours' flight from here.  Back next morning, then head off to Sudan.