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ETHIOPIA
11/06/2004

Leaving Addis tomorrow - the last impressions from this city

 

Finally I am leaving Addis tomorrow, Saturday early in the morning. Since the life in Africa starts early early in the morning, I plan to start hitch-hiking at 7am latest. It gets dark around 6-7pm here, and when it happens, a fresh cool come on the land...

In the last few days I got Tanzanian and Zambian visas. I was refused Kenyan visa, because in the embassy in Addis I was the first Lithuanian ever, so for visa issue process they have to send a request to Nairobi, and it may take 1 or 2 weeks... At the embassy I was suggested to try to get visa at the border crossing. It was a problem in all 3 African countries embassies - nobody knew about Lithuania. In the Tanzanian embassy they even tried to guess "is it Yougoslavia?"... For such cases I always have a colorful map of Europe in my pocket.

Thursday I have visited the museum in the university campus, hosted at the building of Institute of Ethiopian Studies (IES). Even it is nowhere said like this, it can be easily called the museum of Ethnographic. It presents different cultures, traditions, religions and musical intruments of Ethiopia. I was more than impressed to see so high quality and interesting museum. Until now I was skipping any historical museums while travelling, but the one in Addis gave me inspiration to visit other historical museums in other African countries.

They most popular transportation in Addis city are the mini buses, usually capable to transport 11 passangers. The price depends on the distance you want to go and it varies from 0.06 to 0.12 EUR. The mini buses do not have any route description or route number attached to the car, but there is always a ticket seller, who will shout the direction the mini bus is going to. Once you understand this, it is very easy to navigate in the city. Beside the mini buses, people are using the normal city buses, which cost 0.03 EUR per ride. It should be terrible to use them, as they are always crowded with hundreds of people. The last mean of transportation - a taxi, which is usually a Russian LADA. Since those cars are petrol inefficient, the price is relatively high - around 2 EUR. If the distance is long, the driver will ask for greater amount for the service.

All taxies and mini buses are painted in blue (from the bottom to the mid) and white (from the mid to the top).

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Not everybody knows that coffe was founded in south west Ethiopia, in Kaffa region. It is the main export of the country, but recently Vietnam is succesfully stealing this market from Ethiopia.

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Another popular plant in this country is Catha Edulis, better known as Chat. It is a plant, leaves of which the Ethiopians chew periodically. This helps to stay you awake, like a coffe... Once you are affected by chat, you become very rational and for every problem you will find several solutions... The frequent use of chat may cause insomnia, loss of apetitus, constipation.

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Talking about education - from the 6th grade all the schools and then universities have studies only in English. That is why all educated Ethiopians speak fluent English. One of the reasons to make it in English - the difficulty to translate some scientific terms into Amharic (national language of Ethiopia).

For those, who have studied at least 1 year outside Addis, the Ethiopian government allows them to bring some good tax-free, once they are intend to come back home after staying abroad. Some Ethiopians use this privilege and brings tax-free car to Ethiopia after their stay abroad. It is reasonable, because sometimes the tax for the cars in Ethiopia goes up to 250%. The tax-free privileges have also the ones, who used to work abroad for at least 5 years.

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It seams that the rainny season in Ethiopia starts these days, because in the last week Addis everyday got 30-60 minutes of heavy heavy rain, which brings mud to the streets and makes all the people to hide under the roofs, making the streets empty.

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As I have already mentioned, I will be heading for Kenya Saturday morning. The Addis - Moyale (border town) has good road - asfalt. This 800 km I expect to cover in 2-3 days. By buses it usually takes 3 days, while Russian hitch-hikers 4 years ago made it in 2 days. From Moyale to Nairobi will be more than 700 km, which again will take around 3 days. I will skip Nairobi, and first will visit Mombasa, on the coast of Kenya.

Augustas
Addis Ababa
Ethiopia