Kenya, Travel

We are now back in Addis Ababa. Our spontaneous trip to Harar was tiring but well worth it. The toursty thing to do there is to watch the hyenas being fed; we declined a guide and instead saw them rummaging through trash behind our hotel room. We even ran into some in the morning when our bus was leaving. They are nasty looking, especially in the dark when the headlights hit their eyes. Other than that, we spent a lot of time wandering around the old walled city and looking at some of the mosques.

We leave for Nairobi late tomorrow night (or, early Sunday morning), so today we spent a lot of time shopping and trying to visit monuments and museums. We have to get rid of our Ethiopian money because it’s not possible to change them in Kenya. Today we saw the Derg Monument (the Derg was the Communist regime which toppled Haile Selassie in the 1970s) and tomorrow we’ll try to see some cultural museums. Did you know that Lucy was found in Ethiopia?

Some other things to add to my list of things I’ve noticed in Ethiopia:

  • Some travel websites say that only Visa ATM cards work in Ethiopia but I’ve seen Mastercard symbols at Dashen bank locations in Addis and Harar at least, and I’ve successfully withdrawn money from an ATM in Harar.
  • Ethiopians clap twice to get someone’s attention. I felt rude the two times I’ve tried it. I’ve never gotten used to Kenya’s snapping or calling, “sck sck” either.
  • They drive on the right side of the road.
  • Instead of yelling “mzungu” the kids yell “faranj” or “you you,” to which I always respond, “me me” or “you you” back.
  • I’ve read several times that Ethiopians don’t like windows open in buses, but from what I can tell they like fresh air as much as anyone else stuck on a bus.
  • People say “ciao,” and not because they think I’m Italian (like in certain parts of the Kenyan coast).

Ellinor and I were noticing that Ethiopia reminds us of a cross between Italy, Africa, and the Middle East. Addis Ababa is very big and busy. We ate at a Chinese restaurant last night, and pizza for a late lunch today. There are clothing stores everywhere and the people seem to have a great sense of fashion; this is odd because poverty seems to be pretty bad here, more than Nairobi and Tala at least. Today I saw a woman running around in the street without a shirt on, disturbing traffic until they gave her money. Yesterday I saw a man sitting on the side of the road with his pants pulled down, exposing his softball-size testicles and a sign begging for money.

Anyways, off to drink a machiatto and go to bed. Pictures come when I get back to Nairobi…


I am now sitting in a cyber cafe in Nazareth. This is the first time I’ve used a computer in over two weeks. The Internet has been down in all of Ethiopia due to some cable in the Mediterranean. We came here looking to make an international call to Ellinor’s parents and surprise, there’s Internet!

Ethiopia is much different than the other African countries I’ve visited. As I understand it, other than a short-lived Italian occupation in the 1930s, they were never colonized. I guess that explains why they still use Amharic as a national language and have such a rich culture — food, language, music, and dress are all very unique. Strangely they do say “ciao” sometimes, and they love coffee. I know Ethiopia is the “birthplace” of the coffee plant, but these people love both macchiatos in small cups and pasta. There are coffee shops everywhere (even the small towns), which is really nice compared to Kenya, where you can only get a nice cup of coffee in the two or three upper-class coffee shops in Nairobi.

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Kenya, Rants, Teaching, Travel

I know I’ve been out of communication for over a week, but it’s with good reason. I’ve been traveling all over Kenya for various goodbye parties, circumcision ceremonies, and Christmas celebrations. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Saturday, December 20th: Maasai village called Enkokidongoi for a goodbye party for a few friends.
  • Sunday, December 21st: Back to Tala to wash some clothes.
  • Monday, December 22nd: Back to Nairobi to in order to leave early the next morning to Western Kenya for the Kulechos’ rural home.
  • Tuesday, December 23rd: Mabanga, near the Ugandan border with cousins of the Kulechos because nobody was free to take me to the Kulechos’ farm.
  • Thursday, December 25th: Finally to Chepsaita, where the Kulechos’ rural home is. Bunches of family and villagers were gathering for the slaughtering of a bull for Tash’s brother’s circumcision ceremony.
  • Sunday, December 28th: Back to Nairobi in order to leave for Ethiopia on Monday.

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