17 days to go until we say farewell to Ethiopia. The next two weeks plus are going to be busy times, and the majority of our possessions will be packed up next week, not to be seen again until next year in Beijing (hopefully). It's a tiring aspect of this diplomatic lifestyle, the constant uprooting and moving around, and to be honest I'm close to burning out. It's also taken it's toll on my wife, who is looking forward to the quasi-familiar surroundings of China after having a rough go of it here in Addis Ababa. My daughter seems more resilient, but I wouldn't be surprised if she finds one place in which to settle after finishing college, and then never move again. I would certainly understand if that were to be the case.
Earlier in the week saw a final spurt of sightseeing activity, at least for Amber and I. On Sunday we visited Friendship Square, while on Tuesday we had a look at Unity Park. Opened to the public in October 2019, it's located on the site of the Grand Palace, the home of emperors, presidents and prime ministers of Ethiopia. The ticket pricing is (as with Friendship Square), um, discriminatory. The cost for Ethiopians to get in is ETB300 (almost USD $7); for non-Ethiopians it's $20, payable only in US dollars! But that's only for the Regular ticket. For the Special (aka VIP) ticket, the prices are ETB1100 ($25.40) and $50! The Special ticket covers a guided tour of palace buildings that proles with regular tickets are not able to access, so I took the plunge on two of the upgraded ducats (no discounts for children). My weak justification for spending a hundred bucks was that it was a birthday present for myself, which is simultaneously plausible and pathetic:
And so our sightseeing in Ethiopia came to an end on an overcast Tuesday afternoon in mid-June. Was Unity Park worth the $50 "wealthy" foreigners are gouged to pay? No, but the tour was interesting, and with so few options in the last year for getting out and doing things in Addis Ababa, I have no regrets for crossing the park off our list of places to visit before we depart.
Thoughts on our time in Africa in general, and Ethiopia in particular, to follow in the next post. Until next time...