With no shuttle bus around, I opted for one of the ancient, matchbox sized yellow (those in the city are blue) airport taxis. The door sort of closed, and as long as there was a strong smell of petrol, the engine worked. With the driver chatting on his cell phone, it want long before the car went in a different direction to where his steering wheel was turning and we crashed into another, equally decrepit vehicle. The two drivers sorted themselves out, and we carried on the hooter substituting for brakes.
St. George (The dragon slayer who helped Ethiopian forces defeat the Italians in 1896) is a name that I passed a zillion times on my walk, and is now on the beer bottle, which seems at odds with the call to prayer drifting across the city from my perch amongst the lush gardens and fountains of the Sheraton Hotel. Not where I’m staying, I might add. That’s down the hill, past the beggars and street children, broken pavements and the traffic.
Ethiopia is the oldest Christian state, with the St. George cathedral built in the 1800’s one of the dominating features of Addis. I only made it as far as the St. George’s gallery, tucked in alongside the Sheraton in an old Italian villa. Vibrant paintings, sit comfortably amongst wooden artifacts. Antique silver crosses, made from Maria Theresa Thaler Dollars, glint under lights, while beautifully painted icons intrigue. I have a small wooden bowl for my Nespresso capsules.
The route from the Intercon to the Sheraton seemed a doddle, which I turned into a bit of a trek as the entrance was around the super sized block. I arrived to register in a sort of sweaty heap, my lungs complaining at having to breath the clouds of black diesel smoke spewing from ancient busses. Traffic police should get danger pay.
At the Sheraton there is a lot of great art hanging in the hotel. I spent an hour wondering around looking at a wide selection of etchings, abstract stuff, flowers, and landscapes. I didn’t see any people paintings. A did pass an old man who would have been a brilliant subject but didn’t have my camera ready
Crossing the road has an element of courage and ability to judge the chances of the vehicle hurtling towards the intersection being able to stop. This includes judging whether the vehicles going in your direction will force their way into the intersection giving you a minute gap of safety. The stripes painted on the road seemed to be braking points rather than safe pedestrian access. In all fairness, the taxi drivers don’t understand what you are doing walking, when their services are available.
On the way back I did find the MuNcH German bakery and cafe, alongside a brilliantly coloured Ethiopian street cafe, selling rocket fuel. I opted for the cappuccino.
The African Union building is certainly impressive. Our walk took us to where it was marked on the map, only to find that it has moved. An old blue Fiat taxi quizzed us through the Saturday traffic and throngs of people to the new AU buildings. A bit like a scifi movie of the future amongst the blighted landscape. The intention?
The outcome document of the Ministerial meeting has been mushed to the extent that it now covers almost any eventually; Resilient, inclusive, robust, sustainable, peaceful society. A bunch of staff must have been working flat out to transform all the discussions into something that is readable and works as individual parts and as a whole. World Peace may be a stretch! No fist fights, but the verbal sparing got a tad robust.
Stomach bug had me changing plans to ensure that I wasn’t far from the hotel. Thunderstorms boomed across the city,reducing weekend revelry to clusters of people huddled under the meager shelter.
Cafe Limmu, renowned for its coffee, the civilized street cafe option. Clean tiled floors raised above the bustle of the street, with Jazz playing. The espresso head blowing.