Shu-E's welcome upon returning to Addis Ababa አዲስ አበባ was our having to detour into oncoming traffic several times on the way back from the airport because local youths had closed off portions of several streets in order to play soccer. What can you do? When in Addis, do as the...um...local people:
My daughter and I did more than just survive for the 30 days or so that my wife was away, but it feels good to have the family reunited...and to enjoy the goodies Shu-E brought back with her from the homeland. Meanwhile, in other news...
On Saturday I
The garden is a joint venture between Addis Ababa University and the Addis Ababa city government. I forgot to check the elevation while we were there, but seeing as our house sits at 2290 meters (7513 feet), I'm guessing we were pretty close to the 3000-meter (9842 feet) level. Our hike began with a short walk uphill that still had me huffing and puffing due to the elevation, though on the bright side my legs (and, more importantly, my knees) felt fine throughout the walk:
The city below us soon began to emerge into view:
We left the road and entered the forest...:
...passing by a small herd of grazing cattle in the process:
We reached the lookout and surveyed the view of Addis below. The conditions were somewhat hazy, but it was still an impressive sight:
The gentleman on the far left was our armed escort for the hike:
Zooming in on the city skyline:
First, swimming practice in the morning in a very cold, unheated pool, then this. Throughout it all, my daughter was a trouper:
The obligatory group shot:
A final look down at the city:
A locust. Ethiopia has been suffering recently from a locust infestation, though this was the only one that we saw on the mountain:
On the way home Amber tried taking some photos from the front passenger seat. None of them turned out particularly well, but I like this shot because you can see the photographer's reflection in the side mirror:
Back in town, we rewarded ourselves at Puroamore Gelato:
In other news, I observed my first Thanksgiving in Ethiopia. Notice the personal pronoun - for my daughter it was just another school day, while my wife was still in Taiwan. The weather was sunny, so I made the nearly five-kilometer (roughly three miles) walk uphill to the St. George Golla Art Gallery:
The reason for the trek (in addition to getting out of the house and getting some exercise) was to see an exhibition of handwoven art pieces that was in its final days. The artist is a colleague of mine at work:
It was only as I was about to leave that I noticed the "no photographs" sign on one of the walls. አዝናለሁ...
The surrounding Golla Park wasn't much to look at. On the other hand, there aren't many green spaces in the capital:
Addis Ababa's building boom shows no sign of ending soon:
A pre-lunch lemon meringue gelato. The start of a new Thanksgiving tradition?:
For Thanksgiving dinner, Amber and I splurged (well, I did, anyway) by having dinner at The Kitchen, one of the restaurants at the Hyatt Regency. Traveling there by taxi on a late Thursday afternoon was much shorter than I'd anticipated, so we killed time by having some drinks (Ethiopian-style macchiato for me, banana frappuccino for her) at the hotel cafe:
Inside the dining room. Even after sitting down at 1730, we still had to wait another half-hour for the start of the Thanksgiving dinner set, a fact which wasn't communicated at the time the reservation was made:
There wasn't much of a view from the restaurant, unless you have a keen interest in the first light rail system in sub-Saharan Africa የአዲስ አበባ ቀላል ባቡር:
Dinner was served from 1800:
It was more than I'd anticipated, and the three Castel beers I had during dinner filled me quickly:
Somehow both Amber and I managed to make room for our desserts:
It was a good meal, but more than the two of could handle, which made it all the more difficult coming to terms with the begging children who swarmed our taxi while it waited for the light to change at Meskel Square on the ride back home.
It can be very depressing at times seeing the daily struggle that goes on in a developing country. We live well by Ethiopian standards, but our neighborhood is far from a sheltered expatriate enclave, and corrugated tin shacks, potholed roads and begging mothers and children are a fact of life here. Which is probably why for many it's easy to get lost in an expat world of hotel brunches, spa treatments and diplomatic bazaars (with drivers, guards, housekeepers and nannies to smooth over all those unpleasant rough edges) and forget that for many people in this part of the world, going without food isn't the latest dieting fad but instead is a fact of life.