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Ethiopia but I’ve seen Mastercard symbols at Dashen bank locations in Addis and Harar at least, and I’ve successfully withdrawn money from an ATM in Harar.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’m home safely from Mombasa (read on). I spent the week wandering around Mtwapa, Nyali, and Mombasa itself while my friend Anique was at work. I’ve been to the coast before but I have never had as much fun as I did this visit! I don’t have any pictures because my camera is dead… pole sana (so sorry)!
- Salsa dancing lessons
- Swimming in the ocean for the first time since April
- Bus home to Nairobi being attacked by people with crude weapons
- Kid on beach bouncing a dead, but fully puffed, puffer fish
- Being in a matatu (public service bus / minivan / taxi thing) which got in two crashes, the second one after the conductor and the door operator were yelling at each other about the first one
- Browsing a spice market and being asked if I wanted to buy something that would let me “touch the sky”
The Bus Attack
The bus attack was pretty hardcore actually. I was on the 10pm Mash Poa bus from Mombasa to Nairobi. Mash is one of the coach carriers in Kenya (think Greyhound). I think it was around 2 am and I was asleep, but I awoke to some commotion and banging sounds around the bus. People around me were wincing and ducking, and the women were yelling “Twende!!” (Swahili for “let’s go!”). At first I thought the bus was broken but then the guy next to me said something like, “Alan, they have crude weapons!” Sure enough the front windshield had two large cracks in it from rocks. It was over as quick as it had started.
I guess what happened is that there was another Mash bus with a flat tire and we had pulled over to see if everything was ok. That’s when the commotion started. There were a bunch of cars and police after about 10 minutes and we all got out. The other bus wasn’t as lucky, several windows were completely shattered and some passengers had been robbed/beaten, including the driver.
Karibu Kenya (welcome to Kenya)!
Woo, long journey! I arrived in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali last night. Holy crap, this place is clean, organized, and there are bananas everywhere. Sureel and I entered through the Tanzanian border at Benaco and then walked across into Rwanda. After some shady deals exchanging our Tanzanian money we bought some lunch and paid for a bus to Kigali (three or four hours). We had been traveling for something like thirteen hours since the morning, and when I finally took a shower the water was brown from my dirty hair.
Last night we had dinner at our hotel and sat next to a Rwandan and a Ugandan. We talked African politics for about an hour, had some laughs, and got some tips about Kigali. The people here are very kind, honest, and like I said, this place is clean, organized, and beautiful. Oh, it’s really freakin’ expensive too. We had to visit several hotels before we found one with available rooms, and the prices range from like $30/per night to $70… Ahh!! I will hopefully get some pictures to capture the green hills surrounding the city. Most of you know I hate to appear like a tourist :) Continue Reading