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In Addis Ababa

It's now several days later (Sunday evening) and I'm waiting for my dinner to be cooked and served. It's almost ready, I think.

I settled in at the Mimosa Hotel, however, it's not much chop! My room has not been cleaned since I arrived on Tuesday morning, so no clean towels etc. But then, there is BARELY enough water to have a wash in, let alone a shower. Just the tiniest dribble, and one needs to get body parts in amongst the taps etc to get any on the body.

The food is, well, food, I suppose. I have yet to get exactly what I ordered - something is always wrong. Breakfast from the menu: Full Breakfast, which is listed as: Continental breakfast, with 3 eggs. Now, I've seen people eating cereal, but I've never had any, nor been offered any. Toast is not toast, it's white heated stale-ish bread. The three eggs is apparently only two eggs, as that's all I've had. If one is lucky, one gets a small amount of margarine and jam. This morning, I had to ask for the marg and jam, as it hadn't arrived.

There is STILL no internet available, despite being told many times "In the morning, in the morning". You can guess how happy that has made me, especially under the circumstances, to which I will refer again later. A hotel guest loaned me his USB dongle one night, so I got my fix that day.

Well, "dinner" is finished!!! I ordered from the menu - Grilled fish with steamed vegetables and chips (instead of their rice which, from experience, is awful!). What arrived was small chunks of horrendously hard, overcooked fish (I think it may have been fish) with a pile of oily, greasy, gaggingly heavily garlicked carrots, and overcooked chips. I attempted the fish and carrots, then ate just the chips. Yark!!!! With a cup of tea (ordinary tea, please, not the spicy cinnamon stuff!) the "meal"cost me 75BIR, which is about A$4.50. But even so ....! And the hotel advertises that they are "here to satisfy" us! Sheeeeeeeeeesh!!!!!!!! I didn't think I was THAT fussy!

I've had much better at the little shanty snack shack just up the road: a large bowl of chips, a cup of tea (cinnamon, but not too spicy) and two one litre bottles of water cost just 28BIR about A$1.70 or so. So perhaps I'd better go back there in future. I also bought a kilo of Lady Finger bananas from another nearby roadside shack for 7 BIR, about A0.45c, so I'm basically living on bananas and yoghurt and chips. How's this: 2 x 2lt bottles of water, a 500gm tub of yoghurt and something else (?) for 31 BIR, just less than A$2? Try that in Oz. . [ A$1.00 = 17.5 BIR.]

Because there has been no internet available here in the hotel, the withdrawal symptoms meant I've had to go looking elsewhere for it. Now remember, this is a third world country, and things are not what they are in Oz.

So I walked up into the city again yesterday, in an attempt to find an internet cafe.

Above: Under construction, Addis style.

Stupidly, I bought the water and yoghurt at the first (and only?) supermarket I've seen, in the city centre, and had to carry them in the backpack all day! Addis Ababa is at quite a high altitude, and this is really effecting me, as well as it being in the mid-high twenties. I'm not too bad walking slowly on the flat, but any hill, or walking up the two flights of stairs here in the hotel and I'm a genuine Puffing Billy, flopping on the bed for a few minutes to recover a normal heartbeat.

I finally found a computer shop, and asked them if there was an internet cafe anywhere. They took me back out into the street, and pointed out the direction of one, down past the catherdral, on the other side of the city, away from the hotel. Off I went, dodging the beggars and hustlers and the homeless in their urine soaked "beds". God, the stench was awful! Big gulps of breath got me through and past them, and I eventually arrived at the Swiss Cafe to which I'd been sent.

Yeah, OK, this is the cafe, nice looking comfortable upmarket place, but it looks to be shut. I walked around all 3 walls but all doors were locked. It looked to be a much better class of establishment than the majority of others in the city. The nice chairs were up on tables. Hmmmm. As I walked out of the little mall, a guy nearby said "Closed. Only here one month, then closed." Bugger, now I've walked all that way for nothing.

Back towards the city I wander, thinking I'll pop into the grounds of the Ethiopian Othodox cathedral and get a photo.

Above: The Ethiopian Orthodox Cathedral in Addis Ababa

Plonked the backpack down, dug out the camera, took a photo and put the camera back in, just as a seriously official looking uniformed guy walks over, hand stretched out with fingers clutching, saying "camera, camera". I immediately got the gist, but acted dumb, thinking no way was I going to give him my camera! Then a young woman coming past said that photos were not allowed. I shrugged my shoulders at the guy and walked away out of the gate. Great way to get much needed tourism and money into a country, I thought. NOT. I'm guessing that all the hustlers hanging around the gate selling stuff were actually trying to flog videos of the cathedral, now that I come to think of it, so that could be why photos aren't allowed.

But I was still in search of an internet cafe. Finally I found one. Yea! Down the stairs I went and sat before a computer, having been told that it was 50c per minute! Sheeeesh! I thought, stupidly thinking US cents. Anyways, having waited between 3-4 minutes for each screen, I finally just gave up. So I paid the 1.50 BIR (about 8c!) and left, as I couldn't bear the slowness of the system.

Took a different route back to the hotel. BTW, there are NO ROADSIGNS here - at all!!!!! But I had a basic map given me by the hotel, so I just guessed the direction and took roads going the right way. Wandering along, I spotted a homeless (?) woman and child camped on the pavement, looking at me, and immediately thought: I bet she sends the kid out to beg from me! Yep, that is exactly what happened. The kid hung around, hands grabbing at me, pleading for money I guess, for about 15 metres until a passing local guy said something and it went back to its mother. You may think I'm hardhearted, but once you give, then everyone comes running and wants some, which could create a nasty situation. Nope, not on, I'm afraid. And if some misguided people do give, then the beggars become more and more brazen and expect all foreigners to give. It's heartbreaking, but one must learn to be strong. I have.

I spotted a sign for a bank and, needing money, I walked over and eventually found the way upstairs into the bank. I was walking through the doors, to the side of which sat THREE uniformed guards, when the female guard put out her arm and asked: "Business?" "I'm looking for an ATM", I replied. "No, no, not here" she said and pointed back the way I'd come. "Edna Mall way". Yep, it appears that is the ONLY ATM in the city, except for one at the Hilton Hotel, which is even further away, somewhere out near the airport. I gave up on the idea of getting more money. Besides, I'd withdrawn 200 BIR on Tuesday, and still had about 80 left. That is, I withdrew about A$12 and still had just under $8 left! Cheap living here.

Again, I'd had to dodge animals, this time a mob of long horned mangy cattle herded along the edge of the road, still in the city itself. Life sure is different in Addis!

The circuitous route finished, I ended up back at the hotel, quite tired and puffing, but not too tired that I couldn't scoff the yummy pastry thing I'd bought along the way! Then I heard singing and clapping downstairs and outside the hotel beneath my windows. There was a party of people very nicely dressed up, some in traditional dresses and others in smart modern clothing. I guessed a wedding party, as there was a Mercedes with a large, long bouquet fastened across the bonnet. But I couldn't see who was in the Merc.

Above: Looking down at the singing and clapping wedding party from my bathroom window

Eventually, a rather nice looking guy appeared out of the Merc, the groom, I presumed, and he walked into the hotel with all the others. I then thought perhaps I'd be able to go downstairs and get some closer photos, so less than 3 minutes after the groom walked in, I went down half a floor, to discover rosepetals strewn over the stairs to the ground floor, and the happy couple - now married!!! - having photos taken. Boy, that was a QUICK marriage service!

Above: The happy couple, posing on the stairs. (Sorry, I was above them, so bad angle)

Above: The groom entering the car, with the best man to his left, behind him. Below: The snazzy looking bridesmaid.

You will, of course, note the lovely state of the "road" behind the wedding party! That is what it looks like after having been graded for an hour or so. They continued grading this morning, then got the rollers in, but it doesn't look much better as it poured rain today as it always does each afternoon (and just as the wedding party left yesterday, too) and everyone has been driving over it and it is now a clay MESS of ruts and wheel tracks, and is almost as bad as it was before they started it yesterday. Oh well ...

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