Travel Journal – April 29, 2010

29 04 2011

Thurs April 29

 I woke up at 6:30 am.  Spent lots of time looking out our window and watching Ethiopia flow past.  The public transport system involves lots of blue and white mini buses/vans.  All morning long they were going up and down our street along with work trucks and people walking.

Our street in Addis

It seemed like the majority of people walking were women – later on during the day it would seem we were seeing more men.  A man came by with a herd of ½ dozen goats.

In my journal I called these goats, it is my understanding that they are probably a variety of short-haired sheep. But hey, I grew up in the suburbs, and really a sheep without wool is a goat as far as I am concerned.

Across the street there is an entrance to a home that seems to lead to other shack homes.  I saw numerous kids leave this morning in a variety of school uniforms.  Sometimes someone from the street would look up and notice me.

This is the house across the street. I made up all kinds of stories in my head for this place. I do think they prepared food there for the Care Center, that was actually next to the hotel.

 I woke Jamie up at 9:15am and we eventually headed downstairs for breakfast.  A local Agency rep called me and said they had sent a car to the airport for us.  Since Agency specifically told me we had to arrange our own transport I didn’t feel too bad.  Of course it was technically the wrong day/night anyway.

A person at the hotel arranged a driver for us to take us to Wusha Mikael Church also known as Tekel Haymanot also know as everyone says they know how to get there but no-one does.

This stone church is supposed to be a few kilometers out of Addis.  Between the taxi breaking down (another car and driver joined us – our original driver stayed with us as well) and trying to go up the mountain to find the church seven different ways – it was about 3.5 hours before we found the church.

We FOUND it.

Also, because the church was extensively bombed by the Italians, it wasn’t that cool.  Incredibly remote and theoretically interesting – yes.  The “guide” kept saying the same 5 phrases in English over and over “7 meters, 10 centimeters.”  “The Italian bomba.”  “When we excavate.”  “Very large.”  “Letter Ha.”

I am fairly certain that he also told us repeatedly that this church housed the Arc of the Covenant.

Currently the church houses a couple cows.

He did, however, take us on a Five minute walk from which we had an amazing overview of ALL of Addis.  I think the taxi drivers enjoyed the church… the one shot video and pictures with his phone.

Amazing view of Addis.

We could not communicate at all with our drivers, but they were working very hard to find the church for us.  The last 3 kms of the drive was on a road that was completely washed out.  The taxi definitely had a serious new squeak when we were done.

While on our search we were in an area that was a cross between suburbs, rural land and villages.  In each area there were groups of school kids wearing uniforms.  Each school has a different uniform.  If you look close you notice many of the clothes have large tears.

We saw tons of goats being herded or hanging out next to the road.  There were also plenty of donkeys… some with people, some on their own.  I saw a man with a couple of wooden yurt shaped cages with a cross pole in between.  There were chickens in the cages.  There are lots of people shining shoes next to all the roads (big and small).  Everything is so dirty and dusty.  I just can’t imagine getting your shoes shined.

At the top of the mountain when we once again passed the church we came to a look out over a pastoral area.  A boy about 5-yrs –old was tending goats with his father.  These kids are all so cute.

Our first time seeing young kids herding animals.

At the top of the mountain I saw one solitary woman moving between the trees carrying her bundle of wood. (NOTE:  I have a friend who leads tours to Ethiopia.  She had told me about the plight of wood gathering women years ago.  Seeing this woman, who I did NOT get a photo of, felt like seeing a ghost.  The image of her moving through the woods is burned into my mind.  For more information on wood gathering you can start by reading this.)

I wish I knew more about the tribal differences.  The people seem to come with two different styles of facial features – both equally beautiful. I wonder if it is related to tribal differences.  Many women wear head scarves but many don’t.  Men are dressed in any and everything.  I have only seen a couple Rastafarians  and only one woman in a full birka.  I saw many, many children with their fathers.  Almost always holding hands.  I also noticed a lot of touching between friends – arms around shoulders, etc…

I have given away a few power bars and fruit rollups – but not that many.  Little kids seem to be the most interested in the white women in the taxi.

After the church we asked our drivers to take us to Entoto Market – another Lonely Planet recommendation.

It was 3:15 at this time and driver number two must have been aggravated because his driving became super agro even by Ethiopian standards.  I finally had to yell “Stop, Stop.  She can’t see” when he was running over a blind woman in the market.

We also saw two younger women with very long and large bundles of wood walking through the market.  They kept having to turn sideways to maneuver around things, but it was clear they knew exactly how wide the bundles were on their backs.

Of course our drivers did not know where the market we were looking for was.  So there was more backtracking and asking directions.  But we found the market about which Lonely Planet says, “This is the market were locals do their shopping.”  I bought a dress for PJ, a dress for me, three scarves and three outfits in different sizes for LD.  I still need to buy SAG a traditional shirt and at least 1 or 2 larger outfits for PJ.

One young boy followed me around the market and just when I decided to give him a power bar, he disappeared.

We got back to our hotel after 5 pm and we both fell asleep.

We eventually called for a wake-up call so we wouldn’t sleep too long.  I asked for a 6:45 call.  They called at 7:15.  I think it might be an Africa thing.  (NOTE;  Our agency hired drivers were always EARLY.  We frequently had 20 people plus the guides loaded up and on the road before we were supposed to be meeting.)

We were going to go out for dinner but instead stayed in and met/sat/chatted with three other Agency families.  Two families are young, religious, military.  One family is not so much any of those things.

I can’t believe I will meet Little Dude in the morning.

This morning when the local agency guy called he asked me if I wanted to meet LD today.  Agency has specifically told us NOT to ask to see our kids early – so it was strange to be offered.  I felt bad saying no. I would have felt bad saying yes.

Tomorrow is good.  Tomorrow is soon.  I hope he isn’t scared.

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2 responses

30 04 2011
Meg B

What an adventure! I have the Lonely Planet guide, was it helpful? I haven’t really read any of it yet.

4 05 2011
Christine

Okay, I’m going to get the lonely planet guide. What else should I read now? Helpful for travel stuff.

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