Lisa in Tanzania - A Peace Corps Volunteer's Blog

22 December, 2007

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

On 22 November, Russ and I boarded a plane from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania headed for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was a fairly short flight of just a few hours. When we landed it took just a few minutes to obtain our visas ($20 each), change money ($300 = 2700 Birr), and hail a taxi to our hotel. As soon as we stepped out of the airport we could feel the cold air surround us. Little did I know that the Great Rift Valley runs pretty much entirely through Ethiopia and that Addis Ababa is located at an elevation of 7,600 feet smack dab in the middle of it. We arrived at night so went straight to the Wutma Hotel (80 Birr, $8.88), which wasn't anything special. Actually, it was pretty bad as hotels go, but it was only one night. We walked around the area, known as Piazza, and noticed all the night clubs blasting music and beggars. We bought some water and headed back to the hotel for some non-existent shut-eye. The first day in Ethiopia I had to keep reminding myself not to speak Swahili because Ethiopians speak Amharic. Also, we gave up all hope of actually being able to read Amharic script and just learned a few words verbally, which pleased locals. It took us a few days to learn thank you in Amharic, amesegenallo, because it's six syllables long!

The next day we walked around to find breakfast and ended up at Tomoca Coffee Shop and got tea and coffee. The atmosphere was old Italian. There were no chairs - you just order, pay, then drink your small, hot beverages standing up at counters. Then we got some pastries at another cafe where I had fun trying out the numbers in Amharic. After getting our bags from the hotel, we walked down Churchhill Avenue, past the tourist shops, to the Lido Hotel where we booked a room for when we returned. We then used local transport to get to the airport. Many people understand minimal English but we really just needed to say airport and they would point to the Bole minibus, so we hoped on. Public transport in Ethiopia (and in other countries as well) differ from Tanzania in that every passenger must have a seat. Taking public transport was also so much cheaper than a taxi (2 Birr each verses 50 Birr for a taxi). We flew to Lalibela, Ethiopia on Ethiopian Airlines. Because the country is so mountainous, flying is really the best way to get around. There are buses but after traveling on buses for two years in Tanzania, I was done with the long rides. Besides, we didn't have a lot of time and wasn't that expensive to fly. Stay tuned for Lalibela...


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