Friday, May 22, 2009

We're not in Kansas anymore,Toto

Addis Ababa, May 21 2009

Made it! Will try not to fly BMI again. First impressions - my granddaughter is adorable and I'm definitely in the third world. Addis ,a city of dramatic contrasts - high rise building, shacks all jostling for space. OSHA would have a field day - scaffoldings are made of skinny logs knotted together with ropes. Embassies are pushed in amongst residential houses - all behind high walls and locked gates. The regular folk simply have a guard who holds the key to the gate - important people have gun toting federal police guarding entrances. Clusters of people in the unpaved lanes that seem to have no plan end wall or open onto the bustling main Bole Rod. Street stalls holding piles of vegetables and fruit. Forget the "pretty" market ready displays we're used to in the US; Melons, cauliflowers, peppers, apples, mangoes, eggplant, avocados- not polished and pretty but certainly good. Coffee is the primary export, scent of roasting beans throughout the neighborhood. Clematis, honeysuckle, bougainvilla - all super-sized cover the walls, Asian and cala lilies pop up like weds, roses thrive.

We've no electricity right now - apparently standard as the grid is small and struggles to supply the country. We’re on a power every other day rotation. This is going to be a real adventure and I invite you to come along with me as I explore Addis and more of Ethiopia. Plans call for a trip to Kenya and Rwanda. Just delighted now to be with my son and daughter-in-law and able to get unlimited hugs from 20 month old Maxine who mixes in Amara (sp?) words with her English. Went to the gym yesterday – as well equipped as my home based place – was strange to look out from the treadmill over chaotic streets and to have exercise accompanied by a full decibel techno rock version of “Country Roads.” Five days here now and I’m feeling less jittery and more aclimatized…actually walked past the goat heads littering the street on way to a coffee shop this morning without wincing or shrieking! Can’t say the same for being a passenger in a car – simply terrifying. Heading out of Addis tomorrow (Saturday morning) for a crater lake hike. It’s amazing how quickly you can be out of this teeming city and in breathtakingly beautiful mountain country.


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