HIGHLIGHTS Sat 13 Dec: Addis Ababa

Saturday, December 13, 2014
Addis Ababa, Ādīs Ābeba, Ethiopia
Merkato – Central Market

Merkato is the largest open air market in Africa, covering several square miles and employing an estimated 13,000 people in 7,100 business entities. Apart from the real small ones, there are about 1,000 stores at the moment. The primary merchandise passing through the Merkato is locally-grown agricultural products — most notably coffee.






National Museum
National Museum and my visit to see Lucy, also known as Dinkinesh which means "you are marvelous" in the Amharic language. Discovered in 1974 at Hadar in the Awash Valley. Why is she called Lucy? That first evening after the discovery they celebrated at the camp. At some stage during the evening, they nicknamed the fossil AL 288-1 as Lucy, after the Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" which was being played loudly and repeatedly on a tape recorder in the camp.

Seeing the school children who had travelled 100 km from their local school to the National Museum in some ways sums up this country. The young and future learning from the past.





Mt Entoto

Genet, our local guide, managed to secure the services of a mini-van that was taking the locals part way along the road for just the 3 of us taking us all the way up to the top of Mt Entoto, the site of Emperor Menelik II former capital.
The mountain is densely covered by eucalyptus trees imported from Australia during the reign of Menelik II, and mostly planted during Emperor Haile Selassie's reign. Thus, it is sometimes referred to as the "lung of Addis Ababa". The forest on the mountain is an important source of firewood for the city. It was also a source of building material in earlier times.

At the top was the Emperor Menelik and Empress Taitu Memorial Museum where we had to lock our bags into lockers and it was a NO camera inside. It contained an interesting collection of ceremonial clothing and religious items. I truly hope that one day they can better preserve this small yet impressive collection.

Next to this the octagonal colourful Entoto Maryam Church which we did not see inside.

Finally the original palace was visited. Oh how small some of the rooms were and thick the walls were. I can see being up in the hills how much cooler it would be.

At the rear was the original eucalyptus tree from Australia now over 100 years old ….



My lasting impression would not be the great views of Addis below including that of the US Embassy green lawns, but of the ladies walking down the hill with the firewood loaded on their back that they have collected and going down to sell. Yes, surely a truck would take care of this but that is another story.






Nic and I were introduced to both traditional Ethiopian food and Ambo or fruit flavoured sparkling mineral water at Finfine Abarash. Genet order a full platter to share between the 3 of us and explained what each little pile of food was all about. The food we had there was called BEYEAYENETU. It means assorted dishes, so the dishes were TIBIS, fried beef, KEY WOT, spicy lamb stew, ALICHA WOT, non-spicy lamb stew, DORO WOT, spicy chicken sauce, AYEB, cottage cheese and GOMEN, Spinach (local spinach type). These were the type of dishes we had on top of the ENJERA!! The base being "enjera" / "injera" or a pancake made from a small grain called teff.




Holy Trinity Cathedral

We were greeted by the local priest Father Pauli, Aba Paulos at the Holy Trinity Cathedral built 1931 – 1944, a representative Coptic Orthodox Church. What an immediate impression I had of this really gentle wise tall person. Later we took a few photos with him but my lasting impression would be the first encounter especially with the beautiful afternoon light shining on his face and white beard. My photos don't exactly capture that look.

Genet explained some of the history and symbolism inherent in the Ethiopian Orthodox churches. Like women having their own entrance and sitting on the right, men sitting on the left plus how the altar area is divided into three sections with a copy of the "ark of the covenant" held in the third chamber and this area is restricted to just the priests.





To Mo Ca - Kaffa Coffee House

Last was a coffee stop at one of Kaffa Coffee Houses and my introduction to Ethiopia's number 1 export with 60% of its export earnings coming from coffee. Some call Ethiopia coffee as their "green gold".

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