Carla’s Trip Journal – Installment 3

Second Day in Addis Ababa

(NOTE:  Many of these photos were taken from the car, thus the “glarey” aspect you’ll see in some of them.  As always, please click on the pictures to see them in a larger view.)

For our second day in Addis, Caroline had scheduled us to spend the day sightseeing. We started out by having breakfast at the Umma Hotel, and then moving to Cherokee House. Once we were settled into our room we started out for Mt. Entoto. On our way, we drove through streets filled with livestock going to market.

The streets were really bustling that day. I remember that both my parents used to drive when we lived in Ethiopia in the 50’s and 60’s, but I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to do it now. The streets are filled with pedestrians and animals, all of whom think they have the right of way and apparently believe they’re indestructible, and there aren’t a lot of discernibly marked lanes or crosswalks. While I don’t think the drivers are as aggressive as they are in China or Rome, they are certainly assertive. Surprisingly, there isn’t a lot of honking, but there’s a lot of weaving, speeding up, and braking to avoid collisions.

In my book, no one can load a vehicle like an Ethiopian. You know that advertisement where the mattress company promises they can get you a mattress in 2 hours? I bet this truck can get it to you in 1 hour, with enough for each of your extended family members!

The public transportation includes lots of blue and white taxis, mini-buses and other vehicles that can fill the bill, all painted white and blue.  There don’t seem to be a lot of regulations about maximum occupancy….

Other attractions we passed along the way included produce stands and shops, billboards for Teddy Afro’s latest CD, some construction projects with (to my eye) very “iffy” scaffolding, and several Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Churches. Ethiopia is considered one of the oldest Christian countries in the world, and has a proud biblical heritage going back to one of the wisemen, and even earlier to the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. The population of Addis also includes about 30% Muslims, and it’s not uncommon to wake up to a very early call to prayer from a nearby mosque.

Mt. Entoto is the highest peak overlooking Addis Ababa, reaching almost 10,500 feet above sea level. Each morning scores of women, old and young, walk up the mountain and gather wood which they carry down the mountain to sell to customers for fuel. They aren’t paid very much at all for the wood, and each day they have to climb higher, as they have deforested the lower parts of the mountain.

Almost to the top of the mountain we paused for a photo op and were promptly surrounded by young fellows hoping to sell us the latest in fashionable chapeaux…

At the top of Mt. Entoto there are several buildings where we spent time. The first was the Entoto Museum, which held several artifacts of religious and regal importance. Photos were not allowed there, but it was definitely worth seeing. The second building was where King Menelik II built his palace when he designated Addis Ababa to be the capital of Ethiopia. It was a humble building, compared to the more ostentatious palaces of Europe, but it had a large reception room with various doorways which were designated to be used by people of various importence. It also had a very large bedroom for the King and Queen. Also on the grounds were other buildings including a guest house.

After the palace we went through an area with humble shacks and lean-tos and were informed that the priests and nuns lived in that section. Then we walked up to the Entoto Mariam Church, built in the 1880’s. The church has a door for the entrance of men and another door for the women. We found there were people at both doors, prostrate in prayer. A small gold domed building nearby looked important, but I was told it was just used for storage. The gazebo was used by the Priests on religious occasions to address crowds.

Driving back down Mt. Entoto it had begun to rain. At Caroline’s suggestion we stopped into a building with a sign that said “Former Women Fuelwood Carriers Association”. This is a project for the benefit of women who were no longer able to carry the large bundles of wood down the mountain. We entered to discover a room with multiple looms and people weaving cotton scarves. Brenda, Carolyn and I all gave it a try. You can kind of get a rhythm going, but I suspect it would take a while to get truly proficient. Brenda, who is a prolific knitter, has done a lot of different things with wool (spinning, dying, etc.) and you could see the wheels turning in her head. I suspect she has plans for the former bedrooms of one of her sons. Do you feel a loom coming on??? Then we went next door to see the completed scarves. We each bought several. We’re hoping to have a booth at the International Quilt Festival in Houston again this year, and if so, we will offer some of these scarves for sale to raise funds for Quilts Beyond Borders.

Coming back down into the city we passed the beautiful gates of Addis Ababa University and the Martyr’s Monument on our way to the National Museum.

At the museum we saw several statues on the grounds…

…the very large throne of the late Emperor Haile Selassie…

..the most comfortable and form-fitting stool ever created,

a replica of Lucy (the oldest human),

… a model of Selam (the earliest child),

several skulls through the ages….

… the first car to enter Ethiopia…
And many sculptures and artifacts, including these magnificent pieces (which look like something I glimpsed in the bathroom mirror this morning on my way out of the shower!)…
On the way back to Cherokee House we passed the statue of Menelik II on horseback.

That evening we went to Yod Abyssinia for dinner for a traditional meal of injera and doro wat (bread and spicy chicken stew), served in a communal dish. Entertainment was provided by a group of musicians playing Ethiopian music on native instruments, joined by a troupe of dancers who danced several tribal dances wearing the various tribal costumes. Enjoy!

Then, off to home, and to bed, with plans for church in the morning and another delivery of quilts to another orphanage. Stay tuned! More to come!

5 Responses to “Carla’s Trip Journal – Installment 3”

  1. Bill Wiseman Says:

    To see the sights of Addis and Mt. Entoto again, after 47 years, was emotional and entertaining. I remember sheep more than goats being everywhere when we lived there. And I remember climbing on the “ramshackle” scaffolding on a building that was under construction next to our house on the Bishoftu Road – I got a severe session with a cotton weave belt for that! I would have been terribly disappointed to miss out on the Ville Verde’s lasagna – how dare Franco go on vacation when you were there?!?! Oh, how I wish to go back to Addis Ababa.

    • quiltsbeyondborders Says:

      Bill, I did see a good share of sheep on this trip, but so far not many made it into the pictures. Perhaps they don’t have the “star quality” of a good goat!

      I’m glad the pictures are touching you. While I hadn’t focused on how much I missed Ethiopia over the last several years, going back was a deeply moving and emotional experience for me. I realized that I hadn’t forgotten (just repressed) how much I loved living there.

      I was very disappointed that Franco was on vacation! However, I comforted myself by ordering lasagna the next day for lunch at the Limetree restaurant the next day. I was amazed at how much it brought back the taste of Villa Verde’s lasagna. Perhaps 3 generations of chefs, sous chefs and kitchen helpers have passed that recipe around in the Italian restaurants of Ethiopia! The sauce is sort of “bechamel-ly” rather than the ground beef texture that we get in the US. It’s not white like bechamel sauce, it’s just creamy and cheesy and really, really good!

      Bill, put going back to Ethiopia on your “bucket list”, and do it! (Long before the film came out I had a “bucket list”, although I didn’t call it that and I didn’t really think of it as something one should do prior to death. I thought of it more as a list of goals I really wanted to achieve.) And when you get ready to go, let me know and I’ll send a bag of quilts with you!

      Cheers!
      Carla

  2. Ollie Gayle Kryszczuk Says:

    Amazing trip. I sure know a lot more about Ethiopia now. Ollie

  3. frases de cumpleaños para un hermano Says:

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  4. quiltsbeyondborders Says:

    No solutions from me — I usually view and write in Firefox. I wasn’t even aware it might be different in Explorer.

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