Filed under: Uncategorized
After relaxing on the beautiful white sand beaches in Zanzibar some of my friends and I packed up and headed off to Addis Ababa.
We landed in Addis in the morning and waited in the visa line for over an hour, dancing from side to side to keep warm. After getting our visas, exchanging money, picking up luggage (that for the first time was NOT lost in transit) we broke up into 2 groups and headed off to our separate guesthouses. Stella, Liz, Nik, Andrew, Galen and I all shipped off to D Guesthouse and after dropping our stuff off we went out to eat. Not many people speak English so we asked our hotel guy (manager? owner?.. not sure) to come with us. He took us to a restaurant across the street and ordered for us in Aramaic – beautiful language – then he left us. After a few minutes like six HUGE dishes of fir fir (injera soaked in sauce, with more injera) came out, he ordered way too much food for us. Regardless it was DELICIOUS, and I ate way too much. We tired to walk it off and explored a little then went back to the guesthouse for tea. We made arrangements for a driver to take us to dinner, a place highly recommended where locals go to eat ‘all the time’. When the driver dropped us off at the Medieval Times of Addis we realized there had been a serious miscommunication. We tried to tell our driver to take us to the main road so we could find another place to eat, but he was really confused and spoke zero English. He drove us around for an hour and then dropped us off at some random hotel, not sure what he was thinking, or why he took us there, but it ended up working out. We were starving, nauseated (from drinking wine on an empty stomach – oops), and exhausted. Dinner was great though and we ended up running into some people we know, small world! The second day was perfect, one of Nik’s friend’s sisters, Benin, lives in Addis and took us around. It was kind of like we were baby ducks following our mom, which is both hilarious and cute. Anyway, we took public transport and that absolutely would not have been possible without her, because everything is communicated in Aramaic. We started at a market filled with beautiful Ethiopian scarves, dresses, pots, and the cliché Africa trinkets. We shopped for several hours purchasing shirts, jewelry, scarves, cups and coffee pots. When we were all shopped out we went to eat at a fabulous local restaurant. Benin taught us the proper way to eat (licking your fingers is impolite) and helped us identify the different things we were eating. That was probably my favorite meal in Ethiopia. We wrapped up our meal by drinking Ethiopian coffee, which was really rich. We taxied around Addis more and called it a day until dinner. We met up later at an incredible Italian restaurant. Liz and I drank a bottle of the BEST wine I have ever had in my life.
On day 3 we walked to the city center and spent some time in the Red Terror Museum. It seems that every country in East Africa, or maybe in all of Africa has a dark and tragic history. After that somber experience, to liven our spirits we went to a Christmas festival! We were almost stampeded on the way out, amidst hundreds of pushing and shoving people trying to escape out of a very small exit. We went out that night to a hip bar, but after a few drinks called it a night. On the last day we walked to the city center to eat some of the most delicious Indian food I’ve ever tasted (It kind of seems like all we did in Ethiopia was eat). I went shopping in the afternoon with Liz and Stella and got a haircut from a woman who spoke almost no English. That night we went out for our last Ethiopian meal, sigh.
Ethiopia is a really neat country, and I’m sad I didn’t get to spend much time there. I definitely want to go back, there is still so much more to explore, it’s a shame we didn’t make it outside of Addis. The best part of this leg of the trip was just watching the people interact with one another. Ethiopians are BEAUTIFUL people. Aramaic is a beautiful language too. Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that has it’s own alphabet for their language, pretty cool.
We said good-bye to Ethiopia and flew back to Uganda. The trip wasn’t over yet though! Stella, Liz and I met up with Aditi and we hopped on a bus for Rwanda. Crossing the border at 5 a.m. was interesting. We had to stand in multiple lines where people kept trying to crowd us. The most annoying part was “customs” where some woman basically ripped everything out of your bag in an upsettingly apathetic manner. We rolled in to Kigali sleepy-eyed and sore. After dropping our stuff off we tried to organize our schedule. We headed out to Nyamata first, one of the sites of the genocide. Upon entering the church you see bench after bench covered in clothing that the thousands of people who were murdered and buried there were killed wearing, it was an awful and upsetting site. Behind the church there were graves you could go in filled with caskets and shelves of skulls and bones. After taking in as much as we could we taxied back to Kigali and raced to the Museum of Genocide only to find it closed. We called it a day in terms of site seeing. We got ready to go out for Aditi’s birthday. We had a drink at Hotel Des Mille Collines (Hotel Rwanda) which is quite nice, but wasn’t the atmosphere we were looking for. After eating pizza at the most ridiculously awesome restaurant in Kigali we got ice cream and passed out. The second day we woke up and went straight to the taxi park. After a 3-hour bus ride we arrived at Lake Kivu! We walked to the border of the DRC. Ambitiously Aditi and I went to ask the customs guy if we could cross, he said we needed to apply for a visa online, lame. Lake Kivu is beautiful and clean (not bilharzia free though)! We relaxed on the shore for a few hours before heading back to Kigali. Our last day in Rwanda we went to the Genocide Museum. The museum is incredible – the photographs, explanation of events, videos, and general set-up are all really impressive. Obviously learning more about the genocide was incredibly upsetting; seeing some of the photos and watching the videos was absolutely demoralizing. Genocide is a word that shouldn’t even exist.
Overall I was really surprised with Rwanda. It is definitely the cleanest developing country I have ever been to. They don’t use plastic bags, which I applaud them for. The people are really friendly but finding a good English-speaker seemed to be pretty rare. The roads are very well maintained, and they actually use road signs and stop lights. The moto drivers give passengers helmets, like in SE Asia, AND they only take one passenger (unlike Uganda where they will carry 3 people and a goat). Not sure how Uganda is such a mess, when it’s surrounding countries are relatively put together.
After crossing the border back into Uganda ‘Extrafricaganza’ was officially over…. four countries, one thousand eighty-six photographs, a million memories. What is there to look forward to now? Well, in 5 days the remaining thirty-two members of my group will convene in Jinja for our close of service conference. I can’t believe that I have been here for 2 years, and in (hopefully) 2.5 months I will pack up my things and say good-bye to Uganda.
My next post will come to you from my COS conference where I will update everyone on the date I get to depart, and my travel plans!
1 Comment so far
Leave a comment