Friday, 6 April 2012

First Impressions

I was not really expecting culture shock, which is probably always a mistake. I thought that, having been to Rwanda two years ago, Addis would not be much different from Kigali.

Found out there is a reason why Rwanda is called “The Switzerland of Africa” or “Africa Light”, and why people said that having visited Rwanda I had not got a valid impression of Africa.

Addis is a big, sprawl city. I had read 3 million, but others say 5 or 6, probably no-one really knows. Its chaotic. Lots of polluting trucks and ancient blue and white taxis create a lot of atmospheric pollution, as the city is surrounded by hills.

The street names have change, but no-one uses them. Directions are like “Behind the Hilton, in front of the palace and one down from the development bank”. Try putting that into Google maps!

Everything is just a bit more crowded, dirty and chaotic than it was in Rwanda, but there are some good spots. There are lots of very nice restaurants, ones which would survive and even thrive in any major city, with prices maybe half or a quarter of what you would pay in Toronto.

People are nice and friendly, everything is slow and relaxed, problems and mis-understandings are accepted as the normal way of things. The residents are young, keen and interested.

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