Phil's Travels - Ethiopia
Ethiopia (May 2014)
On the way back from Malawi, I stopped off for a day in the dynamic city of Addis Ababa. As with the outbound on Ethiopian Airlines, the flight to Addis was faultless. Landing in Addis at night and obtaining a visa on arrival (USD20) was straightforward. I hung around outside the airport terminal for a bit, waiting for my local contact, and witnessed plenty of traffic, with individuals and groups coming and going. The whole terminal building is heavily cordoned, security is a priority given all the diplomats that pass through the unofficial capital of Africa. Indeed, during my séjour, the two sides of Sudan were in town to successfully negotiate a peace agreement (maybe my soothing presence subconsciously assisted in this very positive step forward for both nations).
The morning sunshine revealed a city in the throes of a construction boom - new office blocks, apartments and villas galore, shiny new retail complexes, international hotel projects and massive public works, including a new metro for the city (a la Dubai Metro) and new airport facilities to meet the growing demands of Africa's largest airline, Ethiopian Airlines.
I was given a very informative tour of the city and saw many of the key sites, including the very impressive African Union headquarters building and the beautiful Medhame Alem Cathedral. I was even treated to a very local lunch experience. The traditional dish comprised a large sharing platter (we were three), the base of which was covered in a very soft, spongy flat-bread and the edges surrounded in rolls of the same bread. The waitress served little piles of different types of stews and foods around the platter and topped them up as we consumed the piles. With no silverware, we ate the food by tearing off pieces of spongy flat-bread to pick up the food with. You then pop it into your mouth - delicious (and saves on the washing up). We finished with a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony (Ethiopia is the birth place of not only 'man', but also coffee).
I had hoped to buy a traditional Ethiopian coffee pot, but I ran out of time and pots at the airport looked too fake. Hopefully I will be back again soon, working on some exciting projects in this intriguing and fast emerging country.