Day 124: Addis Ababa

|, Ethiopia, Trip Report|Day 124: Addis Ababa

15 June 2017

Day 124: Addis Ababa

Caro woke up early to do the last finishing touches on her assignment before submitting it. Hugo slept until passed 09:00. We decided we would stay another night at the guesthouse instead of trying to find a place closer to the bus station. When Hugo went down to inquire about this they asked what we would like for breakfast. Turns out breakfast is included. We had eggs with toast and milk coffee. Literally 9 parts milk one part coffee.

We only left the guesthouse by 11:00 and decided to walk to the tram station which is 1.5km away. Open street maps took us on thin gravel roads through shanty towns, but we made it to the tram station without incident. We found the orange ticket counter an bought two tickets to the last station for only 8 birr (R2.20 per person).

The last station was 16 stations away, thus almost the entire length of the tram line. The tram was quite full and we had to stand most of the way. For most of the way the tram is elevated above the roads and gives a good view over the city. There are new sky scrapers being built everywhere and then suddenly it turns into tin shacks as far as the eye can see.

The terminal station stops close to St. George’s Church, but it was closed for viewing until 15:00. We then started walking to the National Museum about 2km away. On the way we saw a fruit stall. We noticed that it is actually a small alley leading to a back room and went inside. Ethiopia is famous for its juices so we assumed we would be able to get some there. Our intuition turned out to be correct and we ordered a pineapple juice and a strawberry and banana juice. It was by far the best juice Hugo have ever tasted. It was so thick and smooth and fresh. Best part is it only cost like R12.

Outside the shop someone approached us, saying he saw us at St George’s. As usual we started by ignoring him, but he seemed genuinely nice. We let it spill that we are going to the national museum. He said he’s a student and that the national museum is closed over lunch, which seemed plausible as the church was also closed. So he suggested we first go to the ethnographic museum at the University. We thus walked together in that direction talking about all kinds of things having a nice conversation in general. Hugo then noticed that we walked past the University. He then started saying things like he’s taking us to another museum in an even older church, because the ethnographic museum is closed due to the public holiday. He then accidentally said something about ‘my home and coffee ceremony’ and we instantly knew he was trying to scam us using the most common scam in Ethiopia. Someone like him gets you to join them somewhere for coffee or tej (honey wine) and then people ‘entertain’ you and before you know it you get a insane bill and are then intimidated into paying it.

We turned around and started heading to the ethnographic museum. He kept following us and still tried to play it cool saying that it is closed and we are welcome to inquire at the gate but they won’t let us in. He then started saying things like it is custom that when someone helps you, you need to do something for them. Hinting that we take him for coffee or something. We made it clear that he definitely did not help us and that he is not getting anything. It got more heated and he then starred demanding money outright. Long gone are all his nice speeches about everyone being equal and how friendly Ethiopians are. What seemed to anger him the most was that he believed we lied to him about being South African. We threatened to call the police upon which he replied “F#ck the police.” Luckily we made it to the University entrance gate. The security didn’t do anything when we told them this guy was following and harassing us. They however let us through and he stayed behind.

Naturally the museum was actually open. Obviously we were a bit shaken by the time we entered the University grounds, but in retrospect it wasn’t that bad and we won’t let it shape our idea about Ethiopian people. 99% of the normal non-scamming population are indeed very friendly and helpful.

The museum cost 100 birr per person and was quite interesting and different from other museums.It is housed in a Palace and the room of Emperor Haile Selassie is still there complete with a bullet hole in his mirror.

From the Ethnographic museum we walked to the National museum without encountering our old friend or any new friends. The National museum cost only 10 birr and houses the remains of Lucy, apparently one of our earliest ancestors from 3.3 million years ago, among other fossils of extinct animal species.

The power however went off while we were in the basement and had to browse the rest of the displays with our phone torches until the generator kicked in.

From the museum we took a blue taxi back to St George’s for 100 birr. Unfortunately the church was closed, because the guy with the key had to go write an exam. We checked on tripadvisor for the closest restaurant and went to the Addis Ababa Restaurant.

The restaurant serves traditional Ethiopian dishes. We ordered injera their national dish. It is a gigantic pancake made from fermented dough with lots of different food stuffs on top of it. The injera is used as both the plate and the utensils. You break of pieces of the injera and use it to scoop up the other food.

The sour dough is quite an acquired taste and we thought we would definitely not try to make something like this back home. We decided to go ‘all out’ with the Ethiopian experience and had Ethiopian coffee which they pour into cups ceremoniously complete with burning coals on the tray. We then also order Tej, the potent honey wine, which immediately went to our heads.

We settled the bill of only 183 birr for the large meal, beer, coffee and wine. Little knowing that it was actually still expensive.

We took the tram back again and then got the most dodgy taxi ever to take us to the guest house. The drive had to close the doors from the outside and there was no seat belts. It felt like we were going over potholes the whole time even though the road was smooth. When he sped up on the highway it felt like a wheel was going to fall off any second. Luckily the guest house was less than 2km away.

We packed our bags so that we can just get up and go tomorrow morning. Hugo went to settle the bill and to ask for the owner, Michael, to arrange for a taxi tomorrow morning at 04:00. They ended up talking for a long while about Africa and South Africa. He wants to visit South Africa, but is afraid for his safety from all the news reports they get about South Africa.

When Hugo got back to the bed Caro was already sleeping.

2017-06-26T10:01:27+02:00 June 15th, 2017|Categories: Africa, Ethiopia, Trip Report|

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