Addis Ababa – its got charm…

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’. This is what I’ve been telling myself during my first week in Addis. On the surface Addis reveals itself as a chaotic and haphazard city. It epitomises exactly what a ‘developing’ city is. It is literally developing (in an infrastructure sense) right in front of my eyes. No block is without a new building under construction and they’re currently digging up a massive ‘pathway’ across the city to make way for a new light rail (who would have thought hey – a light rail that connects the east and west sides of a city hey Melbournians…).

Donkeys are still used around the capital to cart building materials around. There’s dirty black smoke puffing out of old vehicles, and human beings of all ages living on the street. It’s dusty. It’s busy. Traffic can be horrendous. And I feel this city is going to test my patience. But even in amongst all that…it’s clear this city has got charm.

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The first of these ‘charms’ I noticed was that Addis gets Pescatarians! Cafes and restaurants usually have a ‘fasting menu’ which means they will always have a meal of vegetables and/or fish! I often cop a lot of flack for being a ‘select-atarian’ at home, so it’s quite refreshing being in a culture that embraces your ‘arianism’ ;)

There seems to be endless shops, whether it’s in the malls or lined up along roads that stretch on for km’s. They are mainly clothing shops, and dotted amongst them are cafes and burger joints. Whilst shops don’t necessarily make ‘charm’ status in my book, when I saw this sign on yet another mall being constructed it made me chuckle:

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Like there isn’t enough shops, cafes and burger joints in Addis to keep people entertained.

Another charm I’ve spotted throughout the city are beetles! Not the insect or musical kind, the VW kind. These little gems are everywhere! I’ve seen gorgeous lime green ones, sky blue ones and bright sunshine yellow ones that brighten up the dreary roads:

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I always wanted a beetle for my first car but my dad wisely talked me into going with a Ford Laser (“They’re reliable and economical Amy”!)

I’ve spotted some funky afro’s and some cool hair braiding:
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Recycling is big!
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Ethiopia has its own time and date system! Habasha (Ethiopian) and European time! Which I’m sure will make things interesting:
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Addis is home to ‘Lucy’ (no, not Piper) the 3.2 million year old one:
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Lucy – in all her glory.
Classic moment captured above: My 4 year old mate Aiden went behind the enclosure, and declared, “Look, I can see Lucy’s bum!”

There’s freeway installation art to rival the East Link Freeway:
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Really cool tea packaging:
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And when the hotel staff found out I was sick and bed ridden for a day (from overdoing it with a yoga session at too high an altitude for my body to take in its 1st week at 2500m), they sent a little bouquet of roses to my room:

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It’s been a pretty big first week in Addis for us AVI volunteers. We’ve had 5 days straight of training. There’s been culture, gender, security, language and health training. And in amongst all that, we’ve been looking for accommodation and trying to get our heads around this city where a map isn’t much use (even for a self proclaimed compass). They don’t go by street names here, rather monuments or buildings such as the Bob Marley roundabout!

So whilst I’ve only mentioned a few of this city’s charms so far, I’m sure that with time and as I get to know some of the people of Addis, I’ll be posting about many more charms this city and country has to offer. I start work next week, and I’m really looking forward to meeting my work mates. I also move into my new pad next week, and I hope to be able to give yoga another crack without the repercussions of my last effort!

Unfortunately I can’t think of related dad joke to tie this post off with, but I do have one that is rather timely (and a bit controversial) and I’d like to tell it in honour of Intrepid Travel’s announcement this week about Elephant rides (Yes, I am now dedicating my jokes to people, causes and events – for a small fee!).

It’s actually a joke my mum told me a few days ago so I guess it’s technically a mum joke, although it’s one her dad used to say…a true dad jokster!

How do you get down of an elephant?
~ You don’t. You get down off a duck! 

Read more about Intrepid’s stance on elephant rides here – http://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/why-not-ride-elephants/

~ Please note I do not endorse duck or any kind of down that is plucked from animals…so really you shouldn’t be getting down off an elephant or a duck!

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