Daily Archives: October 31, 2014

My First Impressions of Ethiopia

Today was my first day in Ethiopia. As I said in a previous blog, every country and every culture in Africa is different. Ethiopia has proved no different. The first thing that strikes me is how far this country has come since the Durg, or the military junta, fell from power 25 years ago, after their decade and a half killing spree. You still see the effects of it in some ways, from the desperation in some peoples’ faces to the large number of amputees apparent everywhere you go, to the anger in the voice of the curator of the museum we went to today. Nonetheless there seems to be progress happening, and it looks at first glance like the people are coming back together.
One of the other things I’ve really noticed (because I can’t not notice), is the large number of beggars and the tenacity with which they ply their trade, and yes, it does appear to be a trade here. I have not seen it to this extent elsewhere in Africa, and it seems to be the end, rather than the means to an end. It seems that culturally its acceptable to beg as a profession, and not just something people do out of desperation.
We also traveled to the Merkato, the immense, partially open air market in Addis. We were only able to drive through, and not get out, unfortunately, due to a threat from Al Shabab, the Islamic terrorist group. Nonetheless the sights in the market were incredible and truly memorable. All in all, my impression is that Addis Ababa is quite an exotic place, full of both eye candy and things that are terrible to see, all at the same time.
Tomorrow, we head into the mountains, to Gojo, where our mission will truly start.

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