Continuing to settle(Back)

Continuing to settle in here in Addis Ababa. At the moment I'm still getting used to the higher altitude, and am really noticing it when I get up from a chair or do any sort of exercise at all. I've finally managed to get some photos up, they're small quality so as they have more change of getting online. Picture of The sports hall, which is huge. Apparently its one of the biggest in Ethiopia. Anyway, enough about the compound.

Saturday, and Phil Griffin, one of the other teachers, wondered if I'd like to join their weekly trip to the supermarket. I agreed, since for the moment at least it looks like I'll be staying on campus; Brian and Aaron have found another couple of guys who want to move in. Time will tell how long term these room mates are and things may change in a month or two which will mean I could move in with them then.
Transport to the supermarket was provided by Phil, who booked out one of the Bingham vehicles. So we proceeded to drive out into a busy Addis Ababa on a Saturday afternoon, it really is an experience. Phil has gotten right into the Ethiopian way to drive though, and did a great job of navigating through the hundreds of blue and white taxis about to fall apart, you need to be on your toes, there are no lanes on the roads and people drive where they want and stop where they want. They also don't seem to look to see if anyone is beside them before swerving out into our path. Not for the faint of heart. This is a photo of the apartment where I'm staying. Most of the buildings in Bingham have mud walls, painted so as they look no different to walls at home, you notice a difference when all the electricity sockets in the walls start coming out. These are the taxis in the cities, kind of like black taxis in Belfast in that they serve a designated route. There are literally thousands of them about and they are the main thing to look out for and try and avoid while driving. These are the cheaper buses in the city. They are unbelievably overcrowded, sometimes there are literally faces, squashed up against the windows. Sheep for sale. 500 birr, or £15 roughly. Animals in Addis are beaten into submission, their owners will drag them along whatever way is necessary, even by grabbing their hind legs and pushing them like a wheelbarrow. Donkeys are also everywhere, usually struggling under a weight twice their size.

We arrived safely in the supermarket, called Bambis. Its more for foreigners (forengii is what we're called by the locals) than local people as it is a lot more expensive than the local mercato. But they do have quite a few western products, including Kelloggs cereal, Knorr stir in sauces and Tomato Ketchup (phew!). Milk is available and comes in funny little bags, that hold 500ml, costing 4 birr. That's about 20p. Altogether I spent about 500 birr, or £25 roughly. We loaded the van, tipped the parking attendant 1 birr, and returned to Bingham. Brian and Aaron were busy packing all their things into a large pickup truck when we got back so I headed with them to their new house to check it out. They had hired a couple of the street kids who they know quite well to help them pack and move, one of the kids, whose name was Mukurem (pronounced "moo car em", rolling the r slightly) was going to sit on top of their stuff on the back of the truck to prevent anyone jumping on and stealing stuff while they drove round to their new house. I joined them to check it out. They are going to be living about 10 mins drive away, although that obviously depends on the traffic. We got to their new house and their new landlord was already there to open the house up, give them keys, get them to sign the contract and take their first 4 months rent off them. A number of other guys had gathered, and Brian and Aaron were anxious to confirm that they didn't need any more workers to pay, and so the Landlord assured us that they were only going to watch. It even has chandeliers inside!

After the truck was emptied into the house, we set off again to an electrical store because the guys needed some more stuff for the house that Bingham wasn't able to supply. Brian walked into the store, grabbed an attendant and pointed at a fridge freezer, a microwave, a toaster and a home cinema system. All the essentials. He didn't have enough money, and had to leave the microwave. Mukurem helps to unload the stuff at the house.
After leaving all the electrical stuff off at the house, we returned to Bingham, as Brian had to leave the truck back. He dismissed Mukurem, explaining that he would pay him later. Then he went back to call a taxi, to return for his microwave. Tonight we had a housewarming for the guys, though Brian assures us that there will be plenty more!

Thats all for now, Niall

Posted at 6 October, 2007, 12:00pm

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