addis ababa round one

It's hard to believe that only a week ago we woke up on the beach in Zanzibar and went sailing on a teeny tiny, rickety fishing boat into the Indian Ocean before boarding a plane for dinner in Addis Ababa.  That was our second visit to the Ethiopian capital in two weeks, so I'll start with the first time around.

Saturday night we had an overnight layover in Addis on our way to Tanzania.  I brought a journal with me for this trip, hoping that I'd be able to write more about it along the way, in which I wrote exactly two entries.  Oh well.  It's two more than I managed in Italy...

2.26.12    7:30 am
We woke up this morning in Addis Ababa - so neat.  Our flight from Abuja landed after dark but we had just enough time to make it to the "Cultural Dinner" at Yod Abyssina where we were treated to a feast for all our senses.  

We were seated at the front of a crowded and energetic room full of all different colors of people.  Although there were many beautiful, beautiful, Ethiopian people present (they have the most gorgeous, exotic mixture of perfectly carved features and caramel-colored skin), most of the diners appeared to be tourists.  This was probably the least authentic place we could eat, but as Joey put it, "It's hard to call it a tourist trap when you're in Ethiopia."  Good point.

Inside the large and colorful hut where we sat, we watched a stage full of musicians and dancers in traditional garb - men wearing flowing white tunics and pants and women in billowing skirts - right in front of our table.  As the music pulsed loudly the local members of the crowd joined in, clapping, dancing - a few even climbed on stage to borrow the microphone for a song.

After bringing a silver kettle to wash our hands, the waiter served us the "non-fasting special dinner" and beef tibs, a decadent buffet for our eyes as well as our bellies, with its vibrant color wheel of reds and greens and yellows served alongside spongy injera and cold beer.  We inhaled our meal like starving, well, people, but not without savoring all the textures and flavors of meat and tomato and lentils and spice.  The waiter returned with the kettle, this time with soap and warm towels, and another order of beer.  

Ethiopian coffee rounded off our meal.  It arrived in a beautiful iron pot accompanied by burning incense and freshly popped popcorn.  Then we found our ancient, boxy, royal blue taxi whose driver regaled us with Ethiopian history the whole drive back to the hotel.  We crawled into bed and listened to the sounds carried through the paper-thin walls, breaking into laughter every time we heard a toilet flush.  

The coffee, the beer, the noise and the stuffy room made for fitful sleep, but here we are at the Addis airport anyway, waiting for our flight to Tanzania and Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Click here for all of my pictures from our night in Addis Ababa.

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