Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Around Addis Cont.

I weathered my food poisoning storm on Friday and by Saturday was back up on my horse. I walked my way down to the Holy Trinity Cathedral—Ethiopia's second most important worship site. The cathedral had a large copper dome with the intricate Ethiopian Orthodox cross affixed to the top and spindles across the roof with various statues of saints. The church had some interesting aspects, like the carved imperial thrones of white ebony, ivory and marble. The church also head the final remains of Emperor Haile Selassie and his wife in giant black Aksumite granite tombs. Above the alter area where some interesting murals of Emperor Selassie addressing the UN after the Italian invasion, and his return to Ethiopia after the Italian defeat. There was also a large, colorful mural by Afewerk Twerkle (a famous Ethiopian artist) that gave a bright depiction of the trinity.

I made my way back to the hotel, and then down to the area of Merkato. I crossed a veggie market filled with cabbages, potatoes and onions stacked on high, and a sea of fetid mud below. Not the most appetizing place to buy veggies. Merkato is said to be the outdoor largest market in Africa, but it really isn't much to speak of. It is just a giant sprawling maze of wares without much charm. I spent the my time unsuccessfully looking for a cheap alarm clock. Apparently no one uses an alarm clock anymore because it is on their phone.

But wandering in Merkato, I did get to try the drug of choice of the Horn of Africa: khat. Khat ("the flower of paradise") is a mild stimulant that men in Ethiopia and Somalia chew all the time. Kinda like the coca leaf of Eastern Africa. Honestly, I didn't feel anything whatsoever, and just had the bitter taste of chewed leaves in my chaw. Dunno, maybe it is an acquired taste.

In the evening, I didn't have much to do so I walked down from Piazza down to Bole Road to find a restaurant called Sa'ana for some Yemeni food. Strange thing about Addis—I don't think I have ever seen so many people just splayed out on the street. As in people passed out in the middle of the street, looking like they could be outlined in chalk. Someone could die on the streets of Addis, and lay there for days before anyone noticed.

Anyway, I walked down a few km to Sa'ana and had the international equivalent of “Lemme get one rib.” The restaurant was supposed to have incredible grilled chicken, but the largest portion they would serve was a half chicken. I tried to get the waiter to simply give me a quarter chicken since I was just one person, but that was not possible. So instead, I got salta—a traditional Yemeni meat stew with potatoes and onions that comes bubbling in a clay cauldron pot. Also a large portion, but more manageable. I ate the stew with the delicious large flat Yemeni pita that comes covered in black seeds.

The restaurant had a wonderful case of baklava, so I asked for a piece for dessert. “Do you want a kilo (2.2 lbs) or half-kilo (1.1 lbs)?” was the response. No, I simply want a piece. Maybe a quarter kilo at most. No, that is not possible. Just the huge portions. I tried pointing to the display case for just a small loose piece of baklava, but they wouldn't sell anything less. I gave up.

I returned for an early night before an early bus ride the next morning. 

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