We left Bahir Dar after a final night there for Addis Ababa. We weren't sure how many nights we were spending there as by now the group had accumulated quite a lot of flat tyres that needed repair before we hit the roads of northern Kenya. Theimo was to try and get them done on thhe first day, but as it was a Sunday, we were prepared for an extra day.
We wanted o go to the National Museum to see Lucy, the oldest hominid remains so far found, and so together with Hans and Jenny, we found a taxi. Taxis in Addis are no less an experience than anywhere else we have been on this trip. The car was a Lada about 30 years old, the tail-lights were broken, the door only opened from outside or if you put your hand into the inside lining of the door, it would not accelerate and we had to pull into the service station for fuel before we could go anywhere.
The museum is small and the paleontological section is quite well done in parts. Lucy is there, though we were told it is only a replica - the real remains are fragile and in the laboratory. But how brilliant to look at the remains of human ancestors - it was worth seeing. The four of us continued up the road walking toward the university which housed Haille Selassie's palace, now converted to a Museum of Ethnography. The building itself was as interesting as the exhibits. The Emperor's bedroom was on display and his marble bathroom were astonishing. The Empress, a woman not to be trifled with if her portrait is anything to go by, had a bigger bedroom, but her bathroom was not so grand. The rest of the museum was devoted to the culture of Ethiopia and her tribes - fascinating stuff. We all learnt a great deal.
Outside we decided to have an Ethiopian coffee annd so went into a student cafe outside the university gates. Coffee was off.... So I ordered a black tea, and the others a white tea. What they got was simply frothed milk with a hint of other flavour unable to be determined! What I got was cinnamon tea which with sugar tasted like ... cinnamon and sugar. Delicious.
We continued to wander and decided to go into a church listed in the guide book as the second most holy site in Ethiopia (Lalibela is the first). As we walked in we were told to go back to a house and pay an entrance fee. Fine. But it wasn't exactly obvious what we had to do. The house only had a sign saying Administration on it, we had to walk around the back of the house to a little room that said Cashier and there part with our money. But once we had the ticket we were escorted to the church, took off our shoes and were ushered in while a service was in progress. It was interesting to see the different way the people prayed, some prostrate on the floor, others bowing, while some simply stood with head bowed. The priest opened the curtains at the very back revealing the paintings there and sang, lit candles and flourished his processional cross. The stained glass was stunning, and at the back of the church were the huge granite sarcophagi of the Emperor Selassie and Empress Menen.
Within the grounds was a small but interesting museum filled with crosses and crowns of solid gold along with the cheap variety - simply solid silver and gold plated!
Back at camp, we found that the tyres were all done and we could leave the next morning. Time to hit the road for southern Ethiopia and head towards Kenya.