Calendar   Home
Previous Day

February 27, 2002

Next Day
Rather than risk banditry on the overland route from Nairobi to Ethiopia's border (a five day journey), we fly into Addis Ababa. Ethiopian Airlines provides clean and modern service. We have no tour arranged, so we need to find our own place. Surprisingly, the touts don't run us over. We change some US dollars into local currency - one US dollar equals 8 Ethiopian birr. From experience we know to catch our cab outside of the airport - rates can be less than half. Our cab ride costs 20 birr to the town center; cab drivers at the airport terminal ask for 40-60 birr. We find a reasonable hotel ($25) and by afternoon we've chosen a tour guide and negotiated a trip to see Ethiopia. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, looks like a suburb that has grown out of control. Most of the city's buildings do not rise above 3 storeys; there are no skyscrapers here. Maybe the lack of tall buildings creates the illusion that Addis Ababa is small even though it's one of Africa's third largest city with over 5 million people. It's a young city, less than 100 years old; the words Addis Ababa mean 'New Flower' in Amharic. We don't see flowers blooming along the streets, but the comfortable temperature and blue sky raises our mood as we walk through the city and smile at the stares we receive from the local people.
Ethiopian cuisine: fish or meat and sauce served on injera, a pancake made from teff. Teff is a grain first cultivated in Ethiopia; it's especially resistant to drought. No fork? That's because eating with hands is the local custom.
Ethiopia has it's own brand of Christianity. Many people have crosses tatooed on their foreheads.
People here often wear a cross or medallion. They're always friendly and eager to smile for the camera.