Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fw: Ethiopia 2

Ethiopia 2

Merkato market was a real adventure. Penetrating in so deeply in the maze of narrow streets would probably have been unwise on our own. Several areas our guide described as unsafe. And a couple of times we were stopped by uniformed security  type guards, and a few bir changed hands and he would provide tail end charlie backup for us. We were told by our guide that the people we passed were talking about how Kay had no sense showing her jewellery off like that. In many countries, a woman would wear her wealth upon her. Not here,that invites robbery. Anything is for sale here,either openly, or hidden. Drugs of a wide choice. Even weapons. We were taken in to the kat market(pronounced chat) but it didn't feel right and our guide took us out quickly. Once again we had to pick our way over the very uneven rock cobbles and avoid sudden holes into the sewers. I suppose the best way to describe some of the very narrow back streets is like climbing up a rocky stream bed. One couldn't look at everything that was going on around us, unless you stopped still,and then you had to jump out of the way of the donkeys or traffic. Bedlam. So enjoyable though.
Poverty here drives crime. What we see on the streets of Addis Ababa are many cripples, beggars and poor people sleeping on the streets, a few centimeters away from the chaotic traffic. Even India seems better than this! I reckon you can tell how poor a city is by the number of shoeshine boys around. Well here there are 1,000,s everywhere.
Last night our guide took us to Habesha 2000, a restaurant serving great Ethiopian food and with a cultural performance. This consisted of a 4 man Mira Group,  playing traditional string instruments, backed with drums. 2 of them were playing an instrument looking like a cross between a guitar and a washing board. We were entranced by the singing and dancing that followed when 3 men and 2 women joined them and let rip. The performance was astounding and got wilder and faster as the night went on. Towards the end a male and female were trying to outdo each other dancing. The style seemed like a spasmodic fit consisting of head rolling, shoulder jerking, and body tremours all to ever faster backing music. The chiropractors in the audience would have been aghast! Our waittress reckoned the way the women were throwing their heads around on their shoulders would make her sick!
What a fantastic night! In fact we were thinking of heading back for dinner in a few nights time.2 hours passed by so quick.
Our food was served local style. No plates, no cutlery. Just dive in with your fingers. We ordered a vegetarian platter the menu listed as 'fasting' food.' Out came a man with a bowl,disinfectant soap, a water jug and towels, so you can wash your hands. Then the food was brought out. A dish around 60cms wide ,covered with a circular grey sponge foam njeera bread. 10 bowls of various vegetable concoctions were spooned onto the njeera. And then you tear off a piece, wrap it around any of the servings, and enjoy!
The Ras Hotel is looking better again this morning.The mess around the front is a renovation of the front facade, not a bombsite as we thought when we rolled up first time, in the driving rain. It's character grows more comfy, like a pair of hand me down undies, that once washed and worn you can become attached to! We have found the hot water! Around 1am it's quite warm.But the Muezzin down the block keeps howling at 4am in the local mosque telling all the faithfull to get up and grab the hot water before all the lazy Christians can! It was the start of Ramadan, so all the mosques in the area were howling their adhan (prayers) from 4 until 7am! As long as they don't lock up the up the room fridge as they did in Dubai when we were there in 2006! We don't have a room fridge here anyway. Haven't anything apart from two beds with chipboard because the springs have gone.Kay keeps wrecking hers as the board slides off the side rail.
Internet access is lousy.So we'll be out of touch for a while when we head up country around the Northern Historical Circuit.I guess we'll miss the Ras Hotel then for sure!
Best thing about the coffee! Superb!


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