Biking 2016 - Ethiopia Day 2 & 3

- by Fred Schlomka - 

- Day 2 & 3 • 28th & 29th January
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

I go for dinner with a group of Rastas from Europe and Australia who are here for the Rastafarian Tour. Ethiopia is the spiritual homeland of the Rasta religion and my colleague Jos has been developing pilgrimage tours that visit the few Rasta communities in the country. Green Olive will likely be helping develop and market the tours later this year.

This is a small group of 7 people and after a meandering walk we end up at a restaurant that serves us a tasty vegan meal. Rastas are vegan so it is a novel experience to be with a group of vegans in a vegan-friendly culture.

Later we hang out on the guest house roof doing Rasta rituals. I hit the sack earlier than the others.

Next morning I hire a driver/escort to take me to the Makada market, supposedly the largest in Africa. Jos tells me it’s not safe for a ‘ferangi’ (foreigner in Amharic) to go there alone. However after being there it’s seems no more unsafe than many other places I’ve roamed, but it proved useful to have an interpreter along.

Today I am on a mission to find a local hand made basket to hang on the front of the bike. It proves harder than I thought. I need a particular shape, kind of oval with tall sides so I can put my day-pack and odds and ends in it. We visit about 20 different basket stalls where women are busy decorating woven baskets. None are the size I need.
They are also surprisingly expensive. I think it’s great that the women value their time enough to charge accordingly. Finally we find shop in a back alley that has a basket that is not a perfect size, but I think I can make it fit.

I hear the blacksmith’s anvil and follow the sound down a dingy, slimy alley. Lots of interesting hand made tools are to be found, made from scrap metal and construction ‘rebar’. I buy a hatchet and hope Sunita will forgive me for bringing home yet another axe for my collection.

I start to run out of cash so we visit a bank. I had been told that there is a black market for exchange but my escort tells me that it can be dangerous and currently the difference in exchange rates is marginal. The bank declines my dollars, telling me that they are fake - ALL of them. I tell them that their scanning machine needs some maintenance. We get thrown out of the bank We go to another bank where the funds are exchanged without a problem - go figure!

By now it’s mid-afternoon, so after delicious mixed fruit smoothie, I am dropped off at the Beshale Hotel for an internet session. After paying my 30 Birr (about $1.50), I can barely get online, certainly
to nearly fast enough to do my scheduled internet banking and website maintenance. So I pack up and find the Ararat Hotel a few blocks away. No fee to get online and much faster.

This will likely be my last post for some days unless I can find a tourist hotel along the roads I’ll be biking during the coming 10 days. 


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