Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Exploring Addis Ababa part 2

We started off the day taking a taxi to the Hilton. Across the street from the Hilton, a little to the right, is the Ethiopian Mapping Authority ( This office has detailed maps of the entire country, including some smaller towns that cannot be found on other regional maps. We bought one that shows the area RickyEngida was born, and a great Ethiopian country map. After our map spree, we decided to walk around the city. Almost everywhere we go in Ethiopia we inevitably meet a self-appointed local guide who chats us up and decides to show us around with the unspoken (but well-earned) expectation for a tip. This picture below is actually near our hotel, a timber store that we dubbed Home Depot.

We walked with our guide towards the Menelik Mausoleum. Whenever I am in a new city, I like to go on long walks (or runs if possible) because you see so much more of the daily lives of its inhabitants- you get to hear the conversations, smell what's for lunch, and feel the energy of the pedestrians. Today we went through neighborhoods I never would have experienced without a local guide. Addis Ababa on foot looks so different than through the windows of a taxi.

Off the main paved roads, you will often see dirt roads leading to neighborhoods that are mainly residential. The picture on the right is a little shop that sells toilet paper. Then below are some street scenes, lots of fruit vendors...

If you look to the left, the building with the reddish roof is the Sheraton, owned by Sheik M. Hussein Al-Amoudi (a Saudi oil billionaire with an Ethiopian mother and Yemeni father). He owns a tall skyscraper that you can't see in this picture, but is to the left of the Sheraton- actually he owns a lot of businesses in Ethiopia.
Ironic juxtaposition of the corrugated metal neighborhoods (ie favelas) who overlook the luxurious Sheraton; the construction price of the former being less than the price per night of the latter.
This picture shows the skyscraper and Sheraton (owned by the Sheik) and their neighbors:
Walking to the Mausoleum. Visiting a church, the Ethiopian Orthodox women wear white shammas/netellas (and enter in a different door than the men).
Menelik Mausoleum is located on the grounds of Menelik's old palace, underneath Ba'etta Church (1911). Entering the octogonal church, you must take off your shoes. The incense and smoke fill the air, and there were groups of priests who looked as if they were preparing for a service. The stone ceilings were tall, and the walls were covered in beautiful paintings of both religious scenes and political leaders. Below is Menelik II, who founded Addis Ababa in 1880.
There are carpet-lined hallways that surround the inner altar area (which is quite small). Every morning, the priests sit here facing each other in their special costumes to pray.
Notice the typical Ethiopian style faces with the rounds heads, almond eyes... beautiful.
Some scenes from inside the Ba'eta Le Mariam Monastery Church. Tonio is sitting in Menelik's throne where he would pray. The ceiling murals show the Queen of Sheba meeting Solomon.

All of a sudden, a priest came and rolled back the carpet, and unlocked a door through the floor. The clanging metal echoed through the silent church and I wished my kids could have been there to creep through the secret trap door!

I wish I would have understood more of our guide, but from the 25% or so I captured, these are the tombs of Emperor Menelik II and his family: his wife, Empress Taitu and his daughter, Empress Zewditu. Menelik II was the emperor 1889 until he died 12 December 1913. He is known for "modernizing" Ethiopia by expanding roads, developing telecommunications, founding the first bank (Bank of Abyssinia), first mail service, and he was reigning when the Ethiopians beat the Italians at the Battle of Adwa.

This church was right across the courtyard:

We walked along Churchill Rd, and weaved in and out of neighborhoods. Here you can see them making injera-makers:
Playing the ubiquitous foosball:
Repairing bikes, making furniture:

The main streets were paved, the side streets were either dirt or stone:

Fruit vendors are everywhere, as are shoe shiners, gum vendors, and toothbrush vendors (which actually are a certain stick you can chew on).

The whole city seems to be under construction, and we heard that the population has doubled in the past 15 years (not sure if this is true?).

We went to Tamoco, a 1920's Italian cafe in the Piazza neighborhood, known for its excellent macchiatos:
hehe- click on the picture on the right to read the quote (Christy, that one is for you!:)

I love the map of Ethiopia that shows Sidama coffee! Here are some pictures of the Piazza- it isn't an actually piazza/plaza in the original sense of the word, but rather a bustling district with a lot of traffic (foot and car traffic). There's a large mall (behind Tonio in the picture) and lots of restaurants and hostel-type hotels. Right as we were walking through the Piazaa, a huge mosque let out what seemed like thousands of people, and it got really crowded.

A random goat herder, whose goats look for any weeds growing through the cracks of cement.
The tall building on the right is an elementary school:

Here is Holy Trinity Cathedral, founded by Menelik II- but this newer building wasn't completed until the 1940s under Haile Selassie. Holy Trinity is important because it is the highest ranking Orthodox church in Ethiopia, the seat of the archdiocese, and also has the tomb of Haile Selassie (among others). It is such a beautiful, massive church, everywhere you look there are stained glass windows, intricate carvings and historical and religious paintings telling stories that enrich your experience.

The priests were getting ready for a service, and as we were leaving we found out it was a funeral of an Ethiopian-American doctor.
Just for the record, my guide guilted me into taking the picture with the priest. I thought he was praying and I was trying to inconspicuously duck past him, and my guide made me sit down to take a picture. When I objected, he said "Don't you want to take a picture of a priest to show your new son?" The stained glass windows include original sin, Noah, Abraham/Sarah, St. George (patron saint of Ethiopia) etc.
We saw King Solomon (of Israel) greeting Queen of Sheba (called Makeda; her kingdom included Ethiopia) in Jerusalem. They had a son, Menelik I, and he came back and ruled Ethiopia around 950BC. Now supposedly (this is where it gets sticky, if it hasn't already) he went to visit Jerusalem and saw the Ark of the Covenant floating during prayer and decided to bring it back to Ethiopia. He, and 3000 Jerusalem priests brought it back and it is currently held in Axum at Our Lady Mary of Zion Church.
I finally found out why St. George is so popular in Ethiopia- he appeared to soliders during the battle of Ardua against the Italians, and helped them beat the Europeans. Ethiopians take great pride of being the only African country to not be colonized by Western forces, and some credit this to St. George.

This mural below is of Haile Selassie addressing the League of Nations and being mocked by the listeners. He was asking for help against the Italians, but the pre-UN didn't listen to him, respect him, or help him because they assumed Italy would colonize Ethiopia. Having this mural in the dome above the altar just shows how important their history is and how linked their church and state issues are.

When we were leaving, the funeral procession came up to the church, and circled the church a number of times. We were asked several times if we had heard of the famous Ethiopian-American pediatrician who had died (unfortunately we hadn't, and they were quite disappointed as she was "very famous").

We walked a long time taking in the sights, old Italian buildings, more restaurants and schools, lots of traffic. Finally we took a taxi home and ate dinner in front of the Ghana-Uruguay game (which went to penalties!!!). The crowd watching the game was going wild!

1 comment:

Heather BT said...

Hurrah! I am glad I tuned in to see what you are doing!
Bring that son Home!