My first time in Africa

Addis Ababa Travel Blog

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Gazing out the terminal building towards downtown Addis

After an exciting last night in London getting lost and wandering around for hours (but enjoying it), I was far from ready to travel the next evening, and of course lingering jetlag effects did not help.

So I landed down in Addis Ababa in a bit of a zombie state.  "My head hurts....I should grab a seat in this peaceful airport and have a freshly squeezed orange juice."   Fortunately, I arrived midday so I had lots of time to get my bearings.  So I vegged a while and compared the LP map with what I could see from the city-facing windows of the terminal building.  "That road must be this one but what about the other streets I see? "  As oft the case, I found the LP map more confusing than initially helpful.

The Natanim Guesthouse located in the north of Addis across from the huge, fortified US Embassy
  After finishing my juice, doing a bit of people watching, I was ready to deal with negotiating a cab. "What!... 70 birr?  I know that is what your book says but how do I know I can trust your book? seem like a trusty fellow! :) " 

The weather was sunny and warm but not stifling so I enjoyed the cab ride to the Natanim Guesthouse, a place I had chosen because it was the place of choice for many volunteers.  I had hoped to meet some of them to get some ideas about possible work I might like to do in the future....and I was not disappointed.  However, finding the guesthouse was not exactly the easiest and after lugging around my bag a bit across the street I realized just how hot it can get under an African sun.

An Addis streetmarket
  But fortunately, things worked out and it wasn't long before I was unpacking in my room. 

Eventually I decided to check out the area so I left the guesthouse and strolled with a leary eye past the US compound where signs saying "No Photos" were clearly in sight. Too bad because there was some interesting artwork in the same area but no way I wanted my camera confiscated...or worse!  As I wandered, I was surprised by the greetings I received and the smiles.  I soon realized Ethiopians were generally very friendly and I eventually found myself  walking down the street chatting with a local fellow.  Of course the saddest part was the number of beggars I saw who seem scattered along almost every busy road.  Many of the ones I saw were older and it was surprising to me how many local people gave their spare change to the very destitute.  I made a mental note:  "Keep any lose change easily available to give away."  However, late that night as I was buying what I thought were sweet bananas (I discovered otherwise later), I bought extra to handout and these donations were gratefully acccepted.  Interesting was that I went through the philosophcal debate about the negative and positive sides of giving but ultimately decided to "do as the locals do."

SamsTravels says:
awesome blog!! well done
Posted on: Jan 12, 2011
nyprne says:
Everyone should have a "First Time in Africa"!
Posted on: Jan 12, 2011
es1418 says:
I don't think anything we’ve learned about giving to the 'poor' while living in the Western world can be applied to the truly poor people we encounter in the rest of the world. In the States a considerable percentage of poor people reach that state due through intentionally making bad life decisions or taking the easy path through life. They can do this because they know people will help them out of pity or a need to feel like good people.
Many of the poor here don’t have the attitude of being willing to do *anything* to get out of their situation. I’m sure the poor in Ethiopia and other parts of the world would consider themselves blessed to be poor in the United States. I have no doubt they’d use all the opportunities available to them and reverse their situation in surprisingly little time.

In short, I think it's fine to give to the poor in developing countries because odds are they truly need whatever you give them, and it likely won't be wasted.
Posted on: Jul 21, 2010
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Gazing out the terminal building t…
Gazing out the terminal building …
The Natanim Guesthouse located in …
The Natanim Guesthouse located in…
An Addis  streetmarket
An Addis streetmarket
Happy school girls
Happy school girls
Addis Ababa
photo by: Aopaq