Beyonce the goat(Back)

The rest of the week after coming back to Bingham from Negash has been fairly relaxed. I've tried to figure out something about what I'm going to teach, as well as taking a shopping trip or two, and generally taking it easy before the hard work starts! I've moved apartments, to a much smaller one, as a new family moved into the bigger one I was occupying.

Yesterday, I wanted to go back to the first supermarket I visited here, Bambis, as it has generally got a better selection of things, as well as pork sausages, which are unavailable everywhere else. Some of the others were up for going there, but didn't want to drive as its the other side of the city. So I volunteered to drive, meaning my first real experience of driving was directly through the Saturday morning Addis Ababa traffic. Driving here is fine, so long as you drive like everyone else, ie. not giving way at an intersection, letting noone out and honking at every available opportunity. Its actually quite fun, I think" I'll really start to get used to it.
Anyway, after returning safely to the compound, some of us decided to head out again to the Mercato, though it isn't possible to park anywhere near so we took a Taxi. This was two firsts for me, the first time in a taxi, and in Mercato. we found a taxi heading in the right direction, paid 1 birr 20, and squeezed in among the other locals and their luggage.

Mercato is quite overwhelming, though I was well prepared for it having been warned by numerous others. It is a huge sprawling market, divided roughly into sections; shoes, clothes, fabrics, electrical items etc. Christina, who was with us, hoped to find a gift for her sister, but didn't know what to look for. Even if she had, I don't think anyone would have known where to look, so we wondered around aimlessly, and soon found ourselves in a building full of more stalls; an enthusiastic man greeted us at the door. There were stalls full of traditional Ethiopian crafts, which some of us started browsing. The man who greeted us was extremely eager for us to investigate each stall fully, even though they all sold mostly the same things. After being led from stall to stall for a time, we managed to escape, without having to check out every stall in the place, we headed back into the market. I had hoped to pick up a new adaptor for the electric drums that are at the school. No one knew where the electronic section of the market was though, so after wandering around for another 10 minutes, we decided to brave asking someone. A guy who passed greeting us in english seemed as good as anyone. He immediately said "Yes! This way!" and shot off. We rushed after him to keep up, past many more stalls eventually coming to a few stalls selling electronic goods. Another guy met us here, and asked what it was I was after. After some difficulty, I was able to communicate what I wanted so he grabbed me, told the girls to wait, and headed off. He took me to shop after shop asking for the item, each one pointed him in a different direction. After about 10 mins of searching, we eventually came to a shop where he found one. They had various types, and found one close to the requirements I needed. My helper asked the price, and told me that it would cost 220 birr. That's about £11. It was obvious they were completely fleecing me, I had seen one similar in the small market near to Bingham for about 30 birr.
"Its OK." said my guide, reading my look of horror. "I can bargain. How much you think? 180? 190?" I nodded reluctantly, not sure what to do. "Ok, they say 200." He turned back to me. I felt like I couldn't refuse him since he was so eager, and by this stage I just wanted to get back to the others. I handed over the 200 birr for the adaptor.
He rushed me back to the girls, and asked what we wanted now. "Some traditional gifts? I take you." He rushed off before we could even say anything. Christina suggested I offer him some money for all his help. However, it became clear why he was so eager to help as we arrived at his shop and he began picking us out all sorts of outfits and pillowcases/drapes etc. Amanda, one of the girls, bought a shawl so that we could leave, promising that we'd send all out relatives to his shop if they were ever in the area.

Once we got back to Bingham, I went to the electric drums to check if this adaptor at least would leave me with a working set of drums. After checking that the adaptor worked normally, I plugged it into the set. Unfortunately, however, it seems that a missing adaptor is not the only problem with the set, and they would not turn on. I vowed never to return to mercato looking for something in particular, this is a sure way to get ripped off.

Saturday evening. Brian, who I stayed with when I first arrived, suggested that we head into town. Beyonce was in Ethiopia for a concert and he thought we could go and listen from outside, we headed off, and had some trouble parking as the city was bunged. Eventually we found a car park laid on for the event, and headed for it. The car park, however, was simply a field, and the guys running it had not even bothered to take the large rocks and boulders out from the long grass. After some disturbing noises from the underside of the car, we parked and headed across to the large stadium where the concert was.

There were plenty of beggars out because of the concert, and I knew that pickpockets would be out in force as well. A kid was handing out flyers for a restaurant, which I put in my back pocket. It must have stuck out slightly, as not 5 minutes later, I felt someone remove it carefully and disappear. Brian decided to try his luck with the door staff, attempting to use his flyer to gain admission to the concert. No such joy, so he found some more guards further down the perimeter whom he proceeded to sweet-talk in another attempt to try and get us all in. While they were very impressed with his Amharic, they weren't falling for his story about how he was Beyonce's step brother, and she needed him to translate the concert into Amharic for her. We gave up and headed back to Brian and Aaron's house. Certainly the first and last time I try to gatecrash a Beyonce concert, but good craic none-the-less.

On Sunday morning, I decided to head to the second or the two churches that the staff from Bingham head to. This is a lot more lively church, with lots of clapping, etc. "Can I get an amen?!?!!" That sort of church. The service was very enjoyable, but it went on a lot longer than the first church, probably about 2 hours (including the longest version of "I will worship' I've ever sung, about 15 mins.)

Brian had come with us, as well as one of his flat mates, and African guy they call Baby, and we left them home after the service. Brian is looking for some animals to populate his garden and keep the grass down. On the way back to his house, he spotted a guy with 4 goats running down the road. He got Amanda, who was driving, to swing the car around as he liked the look of one of them. Baby got out to negotiate a price, as the price would be much more for Brian as a white person. After some debate, Baby got the goat that Brain wanted for 220 birr. Fortunately, we were driving one of the pickup trucks from Bingham, with a large enclosed back. The guys tied its legs together and dumped it in the back of the truck. The goat promptly squirmed, got out of the rope, stood up and started bleating in protest. However, the African roads made it sit back down fairly quickly. Brian promptly named it Beyonce. Only in Africa can you buy a goat on the way home from church.

Hope all is well at home!!

Posted at 21 October, 2007, 12:00pm

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