9 January 2011
Staying at Molla Apartment Hotel, Addis Ababa
A relaxed morning and we are taking a good break halfway through our trip and the luxury is also needed to recharge the batteries.
We walked from the hotel to a big Coptic Church some kilometre from the hotel and it is a beautiful place of worship. Lots and lots of people were heading that way and most of the women cover their heads in white scarves. The Ethiopians seem to be very religious and at the church people were not only inside but outside they were praying against the walls of the church and it reminded me of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
The church we visited is massive with 3 large domes each tipped with a massive cross. Inside rows of wooden benches filled the floor with floor to ceiling murals of Biblical scenes decorated the wall in the far back.
Afterwards we headed home and stopped at yet another coffee shop where we sat outside like we owned the world and watch the world go by. The bakery inside was as well stocked as any famous pastry shop in Europe at a fraction of the price. Went of course way past 7th Heaven at this stage.
Apart from the calendar, clock and side of the road they drive on which is different than in SA, their alphabet is also a strange sign language of circles and other rounded shapes. I call it Oobley Doobley language because of all the o's and other circular signs. Without a GPS it is physically impossible to get around as most streets are not named, but it is fun to just drive around and get lost in the labyrinth of alleyways. Houses are surrounded by 3 meter high walls and massive gates and it is not possible to actually see the houses behind the walls. However we do not get a sense that there is a huge crime problem here. On the contrary, we feel extremely safe and even walking down the street people are friendly and not invasive of private space. In the countryside though any white person is still seen as a rarity and kids would run to the road with a loud 'you, you, you' trying to get your attention.
Weather-wise we have moved out of the rainy season of the East Africa and this is the dry season for the country. The weather is actually just perfect and we could not ask for better.
Lunch time we sat at a restaurant close to our hotel and on the table next to us I heard in their language words like 'Cape Town', 'Spur' and 'South Africa'. My curiosity took control and asked them if they are from Ethiopia. No, they are actually from Sudan on a short breakaway to Addis. We got talking and he got post-graduate degree in Aviation Medicine (basically a doctor examining the effects of flying on pilots and to ensure they are healthy for the job) in Pretoria. They loved Cape Town and the wines from Stellenbosch and said if we are in Sudan, we should contact them. He made it quickly clear that they are liberal Muslims and had a laugh about the fact that he was drinking beer. Once again the generosity of complete strangers are wonderful and we hope to meet up again with them in Khartoum as they stirred my keenness to see this city even more.
Tomorrow morning the vehicle has to go to a local mechanic as the back left half-shaft is leaking AGAIN! It seems to me that no mechanic can get it sorted and it will now be the 5th time it has to come out. If they can get it fixed early in the morning, we will head out to Bahir Dar, a town on Lake Tana and close to the Blue Nile Falls otherwise we will overnight once more in Addis. Apparently the road to Bahir Dar is very beautiful so looking forward to that.