11 January 2010

14. - 11 JAN: Addis Ababa and departure, end of the trip

Last day in Ethiopia for this trip. We spend it around the city in the company of R. and S., two Ethiopian ladies we met at a restaurant last night. First stop is at a music shop, where I can buy some CDs of Ethiopian music. The area is by the "mercato", the Italian built covered market. All around an odd mix of old and new. Some donkey-pulled carts roll down the street next to modern cars and traditional spices are sold next to Coke. Out little music shop displays a rich variety of CDs.

When I ask about "traditional" Ethiopian music the lady at the counter looks bewildered. "We don't have so much, no one listens to that stuff any more." I suppose it would be like a foreigner going to a music shop in Rome and asking about CDs of "O Sole Mio"; he would probably get the same answer. Instead, she proposes a few disks of contemporary Ethiopian hits. Rather rock and rollish, with a touch of techno. Anyway, this is Ethiopian music today, so I buy a few CDs to take home!

More shopping at a bookstand. Again I can find some old colonial publications in Italian, I am struck by a meticulously detailed issue of a Rivista Economica in which the Fascist administration was proposing to reorganize the Ethiopian economy to face the League of Nations' sanctions!

Pit stop at a mango juice stand. Two ladies press the fresh drink, which we all enjoy, only to be a bit disappointed when the older one presents us with a bill for the drinks and... for the pictures we have taken! We don't pay and she is seriously disappointed. I mean, come on! I would have understood this kind of request in a tourist trap fake village by the entrance of a Kenyan national park, but not in a bustling city that prides itself (and if fact IS) a major continental capital.

Later we drive up the Mount Entoto, perhaps the best vantage point to view the city. In the huge park the highly significant Church of Mariam is worth a visit. Rose and Selam stop to pray by the little shrine at the bottom of the steps which lead into the Church itself. As we drive back into town on a newly paved road, an old lady walks briskly downhill with a huge pile of what looks like dried bamboo on her shoulder.

It's time to go to the airport, the trip is over. One last mishap, but not a major problem. It is impossible to change back our leftover Birr after security control, and therefore the only thing left is to spend them at the duty-fre shops. Nice picture books on Africa are fortunately available...

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