We had an early morning wake up in Swellendam, South Africa (well, not as early as we had hoped, but the alarm didn’t go off because I had set it for 6PM, not 6AM – it really is amazing we have made it this far, isn’t it?). Luckily, we had time to spare to drive the 230 km to Cape Town and return the rental car, and it was all in one piece, believe it or not.
We landed in Addis Ababa (translation: New Flower), and were picked up and driven to our guest house, Jazly Bed and Breakfast which was just perfect.
Addis has certainly changed since we were here last. This time we are staying in a neighborhood, whereas last time we were staying just off Bole Road, which is a very busy street. By staying in a residential neighborhood, we have been able to see the day to day life of local Ethiopian people.
Just as we have seen in all of the developing countries that we have visited, there seems to be a surplus of building going on. It is difficult to tell what buildings are in the middle of being built, and which are being torn down. Of course, quite a number I believe are just in a state of stasis, and the work on them has just stopped for whatever reason, we don't know. Needless to say, there are piles of brick, lumber, and other building materials everywhere you look. The largest construction going on right now is Addis Ababa's light railway system. The budget for the 34km (21 mile) railway is $475 million. The country had to borrow 85% of the funds from the Export-Import Bank of China, but they, as a developing country, felt that they really had no other choice. It is part of an ambitious five-year growth. It is a Soviet-style strategy. When completed, it will mark a huge achievement for the city and the country. It will be a welcome addition to commuters, as the main roads are clogged with traffic.
Another of the positives to staying in a local neighborhood is that you get a real sense of what the locals do, and how their lives are spent. Every morning at 5am we hear the muezzin call to prayer for the local Muslims. Also interesting to see are all the local goats being herded around the neighborhood, or just running wild.
For dinner that night, we went to the Yod Abyssinia Restaurant for food and traditional entertainment.