De Addis Abeba a Ciudad del Cabo (From Addis Ababa to Cape Town)

Goodbye London, hello Africa!
December 2, 2011, 4:33 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We said goodbye to London two days ago and arrived in Addis Ababa yesterday, and what a welcome to Africa it’s turned out to be.

To get the party started, our taxi driver couldn’t find our guesthouse but after some time which involved the aimless wandering of a Spanish man down the streets and alleys of Addis, we discovered the guesthouse was right infront of us all along. First problem solved then. However we’re learning very quickly that things in Africa aren’t always easy. We turned up at the guesthouse ready to dump our backpacks to be told there was no knowledge of our reservation (despite email confirmation a month ago) so off we went in search of somewhere else to stay. The reality of our new base looks nothing like the picture and is a bit to be desired

We then thought we would embrace Addis and found our way to a busy part of the city courtesy of two minibus taxis – the 5km trip cost less than 30p for both of us. Dodging beggars and streetkids (the kind which grab on to your hand and won’t let go which both distress and annoy me at the same time), we found our way to the originally named Addis Ababa Restaurant which was recommended in the Book of Lies, aka The Lonely Planet (which to be fair, has also been right on a number of things), and stuffed our faces with injera (the Ethiopian staple which is served with everything and used in place of utensils as you use your hands (remember to use your right hand though!) and the injera to mop up the meats and vegetables served with it. Injera is like a huge pancake and can sometimes be quite tasty but also sometimes grey in colour and sour tasting) before continuing with our exploring.

Alberto’s African experience so far has been a baptism by fire of sorts. On less than five hours’ sleep, he did really well yesterday to resist two pickpocketing attempts. The first involved a mock fight where a young boy ran up to us pretending to take shelter from another guy who was chasing him. While holding on to Alberto, he reached for Alberto’s pockets. Luckily, we were standing outside the St George Trinity Cathedral at the time and there were quite a few people around who came to our rescue and chased the boys away. As the chaser was being led away, I turned to see the young boy who had run up to Alberto walk away with a sly grin on his face so he knew exactly what he was doing. At the same cathedral, we were accosted by a pleasant looking guy who started chatting to us (yesterday was the celebration of St Mary, or so our new friend told us, so we were focusing on the way in which the people around us entered the grounds and paid their respects) but it was soon revealed that he was hoping to persuade us to come along to a traditional coffee ceremony which can involve music and dancing. Once there and according to the Lonely Planet, you can expect to be stung for a lot of money for the pleasure of it all. We kindly made our excuses and headed off for more adventure.

Just a little while later in the Piazza, a notorious area for pickpocketing and nasty types, we were walking back to try catch another minibus to the guesthouse when a man released an almighty amount of spit right onto the front of Alberto’s shirt and then apologetically pulled out a tissue to start wiping the mess but missing his shirt and going for Alberto’s pockets (again) instead. He was quite persistent and Alberto had to push him off quite a few times until we could get away.

Today has been better – we’ve organised an Ethiopian mobile number, braved the train station to buy tickets for our 12 hour bus trip to Gonder tomorrow, stuffed our faces yet again with more injera (we have yet to finish our huge serving of injera yet somehow the Ethiopians seem to have no problem with eating it all, which we find quite amazing), tasted traditional Ethiopian buna (coffee) and hailed more minibuses to get around.

Injera with red pepper injera - tastes better than it looks

Injera with red pepper injera - tastes better than it looks

Pouring traditional buna

Pouring traditional buna

Happy travellers once watered and fed

Happy travellers once watered and fed

Tonight we’re going to chill and get an early night as tomorrow (which according to the Ethiopian calendar is 23 March 2004!) we’re boarding a bus to Gonder in the north which leaves at 5am. The joys of travelling . . .

Despite an intense start to our trip, for the most part, the Ethiopian people we have met and come across have been really friendly and helpful so I hope this will continue as we travel around the country. I am looking forward to getting out of the city though!

11 Comments so far
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Tengo que felicitaros por tanta sangre fria entre los mengrullos de la gran ciudad; prudencia que nunca estorba, y no os dejeis llevar por el mal rollo. Sois capaces de encontrar lo mejor de la gente, aunque a veces no sepan mejores modos de comunicar sus deseos. Un abrazo

Comment by esperanza

Hola madre! Me alegro de que hayas encontrado el blog. Luego cuando veas a Sergio que te ensene a usar Google para traducir los posts que Simone haga en ingles, y asi la entiendes a ella tambien. Muchos besos

Comment by albertocuesta

Hola amigos!
Good to know from you guys. I don´t know how are Simone´s reading skills, so I will write this reply in English for now.
As I said, so good to know guys that you arrived all in one piece to Abbeba.
How the hell did they lose your booking at the hotel?? no matter how much effort you put on the arrangements, I guess sometimes it just a matter of luck.
I am sorry to listen about the “picaresque” you suffer in the streets. It´s amazing how developed they have their techniques! As it has been said before in other reply, I hope you don´t get to annoyed about these things and try to extract the best from people. I am sure you´ll know how to.
Thanks for the pictures. As Alberto´s mum would say, “estas mu dergao niñoooo!!” XD even if you weight two kilos more than when you left.
The injera looks like a stomach killer, but very tasty at the same time.

In here things keep in the same way. Not going to get you bored with the boring things that happen here :) Just will tell you that Keith departed today to Hong Kong, and we all went to his leaving drinks yesterday.
Take care mates and keep writting to feed my envy!

Comment by Angel

Hola campeon!

Simone lee espanol ferpectamente, y yo le traduzco cuando alguien usa algo de jerga. Prueba a traducir alguno de mis posts a ingles con Google translate y te haras una idea de lo que ella entiende, y te echaras unas risas.

Acerca de la picaresca, me he puesto un fondo de 100 Birr diarios (4 libras) que va a distintos timos o a las veces que nos hacen la puneta. Si me timan menos de 100 Birr al dia, estoy contento, si me timan mas de eso, pues me enfado un poco.

Un abrazo, y recuerdos a los excelianitas y ex-excelianitas.

Comment by albertocuesta

What an introduction to Africa, for Alberto! Also, he was wondering whether your weight will be affected by travelling …… I think I might have to pass on the injera, but there’s the chance of going hungry, too!
I hope the next leg of your journey through Ethiopia is less stressful and invasive, but just as exciting!
Alberto, the first of the post (P45) has arrived, so I’ll send off the 2 forms.
Take care, have fun, love you both x x

Comment by Cheryl

I don’t think we will be hungry, more the opposite. It’s amazing how much do Ethiopians eat!

After those two pickpocketing attempts I wisened up a bit and now that we have also left Addis everything is much better, I have felt everything to be much safer since.

Comment by albertocuesta

Welcome to Africa! Forget about the frightening incidents and just enjoy each day and make the most of it! Simone, spoke to Mom, Renee and Gran today and all well. Will chat soon. Love you both XX Stellie

Comment by John Collier

Hola primos!!!
Soy Chemi. Haced muchas fotos de etiopia que luego las tcompararemos con las que nosotros hagamos cuando vayamos a recoger a nuestros niñ@.
Pasadlo muy bien y disfrutad de África.
Un abrazo muy fuerte.
Chemi y Lucia

Comment by Chemi

Simone and Alberto – you sound like you have already had enough experience that would last someone the whole of their holiday in, well about 3 days !! those pick pockets were pretty intense weren’t they – have never experience anything like that before. Keep safe my intrepid travellers !! p.s LPG rules !! x x

Comment by Tracey Smith

The first and most obvious food to avoid is sugar and anything containing it.
When it is added with coffee or tea it makes you more
dehydrated, instead of hydrating you. Do you want to lose inches fast off your body, get firm and toned.

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