I will contend with Africa no more- homeward bound!
I'm writing this at 10 AM (from my perspective) at the Semien Hotel in Addis Ababa, shortly before departing for my journey homeward. The end of (roughly) three weeks in Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia. Wow!
Yesterday, my last day here in Ethiopia, I spent the morning repaying all the folks whose kindness helped me enjoy Lalibela and Axum. Surprisingly, doing a money transfer at a domestic bank in Ethiopia was nowhere near as mind-numbing as I had feared! After that, I headed to the National Museum. After shaking off the efforts of a wannabe rasta "student" who swooped down on me as soon as the taxi stopped and tried to steer me to other sites that he would "guide" me to, I made my way inside. Man what is it with the scammy gangster wannabe rastas in Ethiopia?
Inside, a real bonafide student who worked at the museum gave me a free guided tour. Punctuated by the lights going out in the middle of a torrential raainstorm right when we reached Lucy. They came back on eventually and great aunt ^ 3.4 million years and I got to visit. It wasn't the real Lucy, which is usually in storage and only available to researchers (but is now touring the world for the first time ever!) but a cast, first of the bones laid out flat, and then reconstructed in a standing position. Australopithecus Afarensis was short, which I appreciate in a hominid, not being the tallest myself.
The museum was also full of a lot of other neat stuff, including some really stunning stone carvings from the 2600 year-old civilization at Yeha, and a fantastic contemporary art section. My guide was also knowledgable, friendly, and totally embarassed when I offered him a small tip at the end of the tour. We exchanged e-mails, as I have with a lot of people here, and hope to keep in touch. He's the kind of person I hope to remember more when I think of this country, rather than predatory pseudo-rastas. Although I guess both are parts of the same reality...
After that I hailed a taxi and tried to reach the national cathedral and a market I had read about that had fair fixed prices (I just don't have the haggle and bargain gene). The driver had never heard of any such places (even though a half dozen people in the last two days had mentioned the cathedral by name to me), but I did get a de facto city tour as he tried to find them. Finally I decided to stop contending with Africa and just return to my hotel. Boy was he consternated by that direction! It's been a long three weeks, and I'm happy to call the contest a draw. Africa-Chris tied 1-1, both retire for the evening.
In my case that meant a warm bath and watching the end of Police Academy on satellite TV. And now I'm here, about to depart. A 2 hour flight to nairobi, layover there, much longer flight to Amsterdam, layover there, and then a two hour flight to San Francisco. At least that's how I interpret it- I leave Amsterdam at 11 AM and arrive in San Francisco at 1 PM. That's two hours, right? Or maybe something is wrong in my figuring...
Regardless, I look forward to seeing you all soon!