Sunday, January 1, 2012

Xmas in Addis

Ever since I read the Sign and the Seal, about the whereabouts of the real Lost Arc of the Covenant, I have wanted to go to Ethiopia. From here, it is a $350 round trip, and as long as there are no Eritrean stamps on your passport, they love Americans. So we head to Djibouti International (the only airport, there are no other airports in the country). We met an American we'd met before there, pretty cool guy, IT consultant for the US base here, while we were waiting for our flight. He gave us a short list of places to check out. As per our poor travel custom, I don't think we checked any of them out. We did see two US drones take off from the same airstrip. Our pal commented that it was funny that on base, there is serious security around the drone hangar and really no acknowledgement that they exist, but here from the bar at the airport we can watch them take off about 200 meters away. I got a little nostalgic for my home town McLean, knowing that the kids flying those drones were probably in Langley. Reminds me of Ender's Game.

We'd decided to check into the Sheraton, the 5 star hotel in Addis Ababa, so I figured we'd probably won't going to see much of the city. The rule of thumb I've learned from travelling is the nicer the hotel, the less you see. Actually I probably read that somewhere, but let me confirm it. Knowing this, I took some shots from the shuttle on the way to the hotel.

From 20111231-203010

Iron Like a Lion In Zion.

From 20111231-203010

No way this scaffolding would be OSHA approved.

From 20111231-203010

I didn't take pictures of the guard at the gate, they had these giant black mock pith helmets, almost like the hats the Keystone Kops wore. And when I got out of the cab, the guy that grabbed our meagre luggage had a top hat like tom petty wore in that one video. Taller than Abe's stovepipe, and flaired out at the top. It made me feel a little sad to see people wearing these costumes for a job, but then I remembered what I wore in High School in the marching band. Also that they had good jobs. No unemployment rates in Addis, that ain't published and it isn't on anyone's tongue that we found.

Still, first thing we noticed, Ethiopia is CLEAN. And the people are nice. And they don't try to rip you off. I guess I'm talking mostly about Addis Ababa, but also in Lalibella and the airport. And unlike Djibouti City, you can't smell either piss or shit or death at any given moment. You can smell frankencense and that spice, cardamom, and occasionally hash. Didn't see anyone throw garbage on the street, saw a lot of trash cans and people used them...

The difference between the third world and the turd world. They grow Qat in Ethiopia, it grows there like a weed, cultivated and a major export to the arab world. The stuff is a mild amphetamine that breaks down with time, especially in heat, and the amphetamine compound degrades. Over time. Like the mind of the users. The rapid degradation is one of the reasons that Ethiopian Airlines was founded, and before that, the Djibouti-Addis train, now defunct. Because Djibouti is a major port, serving the red sea, Yemen, the saudis, etc...

So you would think that in Ethiopia, where you can get the good stuff, you would see a lot of qat chewers, but in Djibouti they are everywhere, green teeth, slurpin a bottle of watered down coke in a Dasani 1.5 liter, grinning their green grins, exposing their wild stained and rotting teeth.

And I didn't see any of that in Ethiopia, maybe the good stuff hits you before the rot occurs. Maybe it hits you so hard you are finished forever. I don't know.

Next we went to Lallibella to see the churches hewn out of the rock. Here's a trailer of the trip:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hahaha! The soundtrack sounds similar to Tove's singing debut at Little Feats. Beautiful scenery and hilarious captions. xo Amy