Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day Two, Addis: We hired a private guide and did the historical tour of the city. We saw the grand Menelik Palace, the Haile Selassie Palace, and then were off to the National Museum, where they house the oldest skeletan ever discovered! ‘Lucy’ is 3 ½ feet in height and was dated to 3.2 millions years ago! A grand scientific discovery indeed. From there we headed to Mt. Entoto- the highest mountain in Addis, with grand views of the city below. The drive alone was incredible- winding up a very steep hillside, narrowly passing the many hoards of women carrying firewood down the mountainside from the forests on top. The loads were incredible and looked too much to bear. As I sat imagining how I could possibly manage to carry something like that ten feet (let alone down the entire mountain) I found my taxi driver experiencing a very different feeling. He seemed annoyed by there very presence, not bothering to move over enough for them, and at times brushing their load, sending them off balance and at one point causing a woman to walk down into a ditch! Unbelievable. Further up the mountain we came across boys hearding goats and donkeys up to higher pastures, and soon found ourselves in a thick forest of eucalyptus trees. Opening our windows, we felt the smog of the city fade away and were soon breathing the fresh scented cool air. At the very top of the mountain, we were able to see over the other side to many rolling green hills dotted with the boys and their herds of animals, and the typical ‘Tukul’ grass-roofed huts dotting the hillside. We managed to get in a hike guided by two very sweet boys who were excitedly practicing their English skills on us. On our way back, many other children ran to us from their Tukul, and one girl pushed a baby forward to greet me. Nervously, the baby stared wide-eyed while all the other children giggled, so I decided it was time to practice my Amharic skills. ‘Selamno baby’ I said, and ‘nimineyedel’ (don’t worry), which did not seem to soothe the baby at all, but at least seemed to produce more laughter from the children! : ) On the way back down the mountain we could hear the singing of the women from the Christian Orthodox Church being played out from loud speakers over the countryside. Much like the Mosque’s, this is a common sound you hear often here in Addis, and is beautiful. We stopped and took a walk around the church, enjoying the sights of the women who were decorated so beautifully, draped in their all-white church dresses and scarves, leaning their heads against the walls in deep prayer. Next we were off to one of the largest outdoor markets in all of Africa, which wind through tiny alleys and streets for many blocks. We stopped and went for a stroll, checking out the very cool handicrafts of traditional clothes, hand-carved wooden masks and baskets. Being out of Ethiopian ‘Birr’s’, we made mental checklists of the things we wished to carry home with us for future ‘adoption day’ celebration gifts. The end of the day was a celebration at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant where we enjoyed singing, dancing, and a nightcap of homemade honey wine called ‘Tej’. Sleep is now calling me, and tomorrow we are off for an excursion to the rural mountainous regions to the north of the capital. Chow!

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