Goodbye to Addis Ababa

Trip Start Oct 11, 2012
Trip End Nov 19, 2012

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Where I stayed
Ghion Hotel Addis Ababa
Read my review - 3/5 stars
What I did
Souvenir Market

Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Sunday, November 11, 2012

This entry will be an odd one since I am finishing here in Ethiopia today but not flying out until nearly 11 pm.  It is Sunday and I have heard singing from the churches ever since I woke up this morning.

I went into breakfast a little after 7:30 am and manged to get another lovely Spanish omelet (Western omelet for us in the US).  I waited and waited for coffee and thought, here we go again.  But then a waitress came and took my order, a waiter came and took my room number and coffee order, I waited and looked around for my coffee, and waited some more.  Then a third person came and took my order and then, shortly thereafter, she arrived back with my own pots of coffee and milk!  By this time I had finished my first plates of food and had gone back for some juice and a slice of toast which I had started on.   Then a man came to pour me more coffee, which I refused to his look of surprise.  He removed the coffee and milk pots.  This scene would normally not be worthy of extensive recording, but for some reason it seems important to our tourist stay in Ethiopia. 

I think there are two or three aspects of being a tourist here:  seeing the marvelous sights, trying to get a feel for the reality of life here, and experiencing the tourist infrastructure.  As much as I try to be understanding that life will not be as it is at home, still sometimes I can rankle at bit at the inconveniences I face as a tourist.  There has certainly been nothing that I could find totally objectionable but nonetheless I might have preferred it otherwise than it was.  And yet, the workers in the tourist industry here are almost without exception (there might have been a very few) very genuinely anxious to be helpful.  Our tour leader Kibrom was always trying to help - if not picking me up
when I fell, to serving food in the restaurants and trying to figure out
the bills for all of us.

I then spent most of the morning writing up my notes on Wordpad in preparation for putting them up on my Travelpod blog.  Now to shower and arrange my shuttle to the airport before going out for my last shopping trip.

My 2:30 pm update:  how do you spell "oy evay"?    I stopped to arrange the shuttle before going out the door.  First there was some controversy about my paying for my room, so I assured them I would pay.  However, "credit card was not working" so I would have to pay cash.  Of course, the ATM was also not working so I had to use my reserve cash - I guess this is what it was intended for anyway.  They really wanted me to pay right then and there, but I wasn't ready yet.  First they had told me that the shuttle would be $40 and they seemed to want that before they would book it.  But then, one of the women said that if I paid for my room, it would be free.  I couldn't figure out if that meant that I had to pay for my room right at that moment in order to get the shuttle - booked and/or free.  I ended up leaving without really feeling confident that I had a seat on the shuttle.

I found the souvenir market around the corner from the Post Office and began to inquire about my desired purchase.  The prices quoted were exorbitant, I thought, but I made an almost complete round of the market without finding much of a difference - if they had the desired souvenir at all.  At the end just before going back to the Rasta shop, a young man next to a small stand offered what I wanted.  Many of the shop dealers seemed to know what it was that I wanted without my asking for it.  His was the best price yet so I quibbled a bit trying to get a better deal with dollars since I didn't have enough birr, but ended up paying what he'd asked.  I declined his plastic bag, but while I was pulling out my dollars one by one, he told me to put the item in my bag.  I suspect he undercut the others - he did take the item out of a plastic bag underneath his stall - and didn't want to be caught.  So, mission accomplished, I left the market.  I was approached by some young women down the street asking if I spoke English and was able to direct them to the market.  They had made a wrong turn and been "attacked" by some aggressive young boys.  I didn't get the sense they were physically attacked, but rather harassed.  The joys of shopping in Addis.

For some reason, this Wordpad makes things disappear and then I can't find them again.  There doesn't seem to be a redo function either.  I had at least a whole paragraph on my return to the hotel and the difficulty with trying to get my shuttle booking.  I ended up paying my bill because the cashier so desperately wanted the payment ahead of time so that it would be "easier" and I could get my "bags out" ticket so that I could leave the hotel.  This way they know that I have paid - cash - because there is no credit card payment today.  So I am all paid up with a receipt that doesn't lay out the charges but hopefully Exodus won't give me problems with their paying the extra day.  We'll see.  It is almost time to check out and try to get the shuttle now. 

I did work on photos most of the afternoon and managed to go through one day - november 9th at Lake Awassa.

Final update.  I got the shuttle to the airport with a British woman named Morna who was visiting Ethiopia after 40 years.  She had been a volunteer and met a Danish man, married him here in Addis, and moved to Denmark with him (but lived in different parts of the world since he was an agronomist).  They had three children, and now grandchildren, but sadly he died 4 years ago.  We made it through the airport together in mutual support until I went to find the toilets in the gate area and she found a new companion - Melissa - honey and sweetness.  Morna showed both Melissa and me photos of her family and her wedding.  I lost both women when I boarded the plane.  I had the two seats to myself until Khartoum when a largish man got on.  He wasn't so bad and even helped me get my daypack down when we were deplaning.

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