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Published: December 4th 2012
10th Nov ’12 Lalibela to Addis Ababa
It was a morning flight back to Addis with the usual drink and a bun and soon we were back on a bus in heavy traffic after having seen one of our group off at the airport. Then there were more goodbyes as another two people were dropped off at their hotel and once we reached the Ghion again it was our turn to say our goodbyes.
It was quite sad to be leaving the group, they are a lovely bunch of people, good company and good fun. Sue is an excellent tour leader who always went that bit further to ensure we got the most from our time in Ethiopia, her love and passion for the people and the country was inspiring and infectious. One of the most amazing people I have ever met was Sheila, a lady originally from Belfast, in her 70s who had an artificial leg and she never let this stop her having a go at everything. The chats we had over the two weeks were fascinating, her stories of first starting travelling by herself at age 16 right through to back packing on her own around
China last year were inspirational, funny and just amazing and she is just a lovely lovely lady.
Anyway it was back off on our on again and back to the Addis Regency Hotel for our last night in Ethiopia. Getting there wasn’t quite as easy as just getting in a taxi, no one seemed to have heard of it and after heading in what we thought was the right direction we soon found out wasn’t. Luckily we found a telephone number for the hotel and the taxi driver rang them and we finally got there, the gateman saluted as we pulled in and the girls on the desk were laughing when we said Salem Nachoo.
11th Nov ’12 Addis Ababa
Our last day and as our flight wasn’t until 11.30pm we decided to go out and do some sightseeing. We were aiming for the souvenir shopping street to get some last minute bits and use up the Birr we had left but never actually made it. We decided to try walking it and discovered the city is really a maze, none of the roads have names and everywhere looks very similar!
It was Sunday so most
of the shops were shut but there were still plenty of people out on the streets and the churches were doing a roaring trade. We used a bridge to get up and over one of the busy main roads and after saying hello to several people (one of the ladies took my hand and kissed it) acquired a young girl who kept asking us the same questions over and over, it took a bit of persuading to get her to go back but I was worried about her getting lost.
Eventually we ended up further and further away from what I guess was the main streets and encountered the first hostile person we have seen in all our time here, he didn’t do anything as such just walked up and shouted something in Amharric and waved his hands about a bit. By now it was obvious we were lost, we hadn’t seen a single other tourist since we started out, and we were right next to one of the slum areas so I called a halt and flagged down a taxi. By now we had no desire to go shopping and doubtful we could communicate where we actually wanted
to be we just asked to go to the National Museum instead.
Back in the bustling main streets we found a café and just chilled out a bit, watched people parading by in their sunday best and saw a family who lived on the streets begging from them.
The National Museum was interesting; Howard had only had the brief visit to see Lucy so the bulk of it was new to him too. I thought it was really good to be seeing the collections at the end of our trip as many of them were from the places we had visited andrelated to the history we had learnt about so it all made more sense.
After an hour or two we decided to walk back to the hotel as we thought we knew the way as we had driven it a couple of times, ha ha. After being stalked by a chewing gum seller and a brief unsuccessful attempt by him at pick pocketing my bag, we walked miles uphill following a group of ladies and children and admitted to ourselves we were probably lost again!
We came across a row of taxis and negotiated
the price back to the hotel, Howard thought we were being ripped off as it couldn’t be far but once we finally got there we realised that we had actually walked a long way in totally the wrong direction. Driving back down the long hill was particularly galling!
Anyway we had our final meal at the hotel, said of birr to use up so we had a mega expensive coke, bought a book about the quest to find the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, a few bits and bobs and then it was time to board.
The flight back was ok we even managed a bit of sleep and after a one hour stop in Khartoum, three hours wait in Amsterdam and a short hop over to Teesside it was all over and we were back.
I have to say even though I didn’t like Addis Ababa much (but that’s not really different to lots of big cities) I LOVED Ethiopia. It was so different to what I had imagined, I expected to see a dry, arid landscape, I thought food might be scarce; I took wet wipes with me in case there wasn’t
much water and I couldn’t have been more wrong! It was a beautiful green fertile country, there was plenty of food and water to be had. The ancient history of the country was amazing, the scenery was incredible, it was all so varied and most of all the people are beautiful and really made this a truly memorable journey for me, a truly special country. Best of all we only visited part of the east and the north of Ethiopia so there is still so much more for us to see and experience!
Ethiopia I’ll be back…………and everyone who hasn’t been you really truly should!
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