I never did get to post my last two entries from Addis Ababa, as the government of Ethiopia, in their infinite wisdom on how to deal with potential dissent, blocks Blogger.com. I was able to post them as Facebook notes (which tells you what a thankless job blocking specific websites in order to silence voices is), I figured I'd post them here for completeness' sake. First below, second to follow...
P.S. I'm back!
Last day in Africa!
I think you could make a case that tomorrow is my last day in Africa, since my flight out of Addis Ababa isn't until after noon, and then I have a connecting flight through Nairobi that doesn't leave until 10 PM. But let's not get distracted by technicalities- this is my last (full) day in Africa!
I'm currently in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. I arrived here yesterday from Axum. Many apologies for not blogging more from there, the connections in Axum were 56 kbps dial-up (I didn't think that still existed outside of my parent's house!) and Blogger and Facebook were just way too much for those poor little phone lines.
My second day in Axum I visited the remains of Ethiopia's (and sub-saharan Africa's) oldest surviving structures, a 2600 year-old temple in Yeha, about a half-day's trip from Axum. This site is thought to be the font of all later Ethiopian civilization and completed my journey backwards in time (the rock-hewn churches in Lalibela are around 12th century, the stellea and other remains of the Axumite civilzation are from about 200 BC to 900 AD). It was truly awesome to stand there amidst walls that are still standing from before the birth of Socrates, arund the time of the Old Testament prophets.
The third day in Axum I had a chance to visit the old town, a winding array of old stone houses that was the area where most people lived before moving to the more "modern" concrete and electircity newer parts of town. UNESCO, which is big on preserving the historical heritage sites in Ethiopia, is actually paying most of these people to relocate, so the remains of the Axumite civilization that are under their farmhouses can be recovered. It makes sense, but also seems a shame, since those houses themselves are lovely and historic.
All-in-all, I'm glad I got to spend a third day in Axum, since it gave me a chance to appreciate it on my own (the omnipresent wannabe rastaman guide who met me at the airport had business out of town that day). It also gave me a bit of a break from the guide's constant attempts to hustle and vercharge me for things, although there were plenty of other people around town (including one of the busboys at my hotel!) who tried to take up where he left off. Let's just say if the people in Lalibela made that town seem like heaven, the people in Axum did a good job of presenting the other end of the cosmic spectrum...
But yesterday I arrived here in Addis Ababa, where, among other things, people are too busy being in the capital city to even care to much abut little old tourist me. It's bliss! The city itself is also really lovely- even though the population is well into the millions, the terrain is hilly, trees are everywhere throughout, and the whole thing is ringed by mountains, giving it a much more calm, fresh and open feeling than you might expect. I visited St. George Church and the Ethnographic Museum, which is housed in the former palace of Emperor Haile Selaisse. I even got a chance to see his still preserved bedroom, changing room and bathroom!
Today I have my sights set on the national cathedral, and the National Museum, where I look forward to meeting my great^3.4 million years aunt Lucy. I'll hopefully report about that tomorrow morning, and then I'm homeward bound!