Monthly Archives: June 2017

Dubai and Brussels

One sunny day, the government of Ethiopia decided to cut off the entire internet. It was only for  ten days, so that was alright. The reason were the upcoming exams and the fear of exam papers being spread on the social media as had happened last year.

One woman in the hotel, with an Eastern European accent, said she would leave Ethiopia. She couldn’t live without internet she said and I had to admit that she looked pale, as if life was leaving her quickly.

From Addis Ababa I flew to Brussels with a long layover in Dubai. Although it was after eight in the evening, it was still 40 degrees and stifling hot. Besides the debilitating heat, there are several more reasons why the city is such a popular travel destination, but I can’t really think of any at the moment. Shopping  malls apparently….

The airport is not a bad one when it comes to lengthy layovers. There are many vending machines that sell cheap snacks and coffee for under a dollar (3 to 4 dirhams). Drinking water is freely available as is wifi.

In Brussels I entertained myself with a short walk in the surrounding countryside and this is where I saw a cow. It looked very peaceful and I made a photograph of it:

Brussels_cow

It made me think of lunch.

Another highlight of Brussels was a visit to the Magritte museum:

Magritte was an artist who made beautiful paintings of a ball (top left) , a woman (bottom left) and some creatures that seem to have come in peace even though the subcontractor had goofed up the windows of their hotel (right).

 

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Ethiopia wrap up

It’s been a while since my last blog post. I am happy to report that I still have all my teeth and most of my money. I am sitting on my balcony and on good days the wifi reaches to here and I can watch YouTube videos.

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Coffee in the Trianon (watercolour)

It’s difficult to ignore injera. They are the spongy, fermented pancakes that form a staple in Ethiopian cuisine. Injera is used to wrap up the food (mostly spicy meat) and eat it with your fingers, I mean, with the use of your fingers.
It’s okay to clap your hands in Ethiopian restaurants to call for attention. Waiters sometimes look ugly if you do, but that’s just because they make very little money.
Fasting days are Wednesdays and Fridays, on which days Ethiopians traditionally indulge in  Spaghetti and ‘Talitelli’  with vegetables. [It’s my theory that the spelling of  ‘talitelli’ is simplified because it is written in four letters of their abugida].
Sometimes you find a lot of grass on the floor of a restaurant. Don’t bother, it’s meant to pleas the spirits or ‘zars’. They don’t exist anyway.

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Preparing injera (photo National Museum)

The dominant religion of the Highlands is the Ethiopian Orthodox church, which, interestingly, is a pre-Chalcedonian church. You can read all about it on Wikipedia.

An interesting story that harks back to biblical times when The Queen of Sheba (who, according to legend, lived in present day Axum) visited King Solomon. Their son, Menelik, nicked the Arc of the covenant and took it back to Ethiopia. It still resides there but you can’t see it. Nobody can see it except to the appointed guard

QueenSheba

Queen of Sheba (watercolour)

The above is an artist’s (i.e. mine) impression of the Queen of Sheba. It’s actually a watercolour sketch I made after a still in Tina Turner YouTube video where she’s singing River Deep, Mountain High.

The Naional Museum

Austraulopithecus

The museum is most famous for Lucy. The young Australopithecus afarensis found in the Afar region. She was looking for her make-up mirror when she accidently slipped, died in a river bed and fossilised to the merriment of future anthropologists.

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Self portrait (watercolour, not in the museum)

Above a self portrait of Homo sapiens sapiens, a slightly more intelligent creature.

LastSupperEth

An Ethiopian version of the Last Supper. It is very similar to the famous interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci. The food looks yummy. Well, no injera at least….

olmec

In 2010 the Mexicans gave an Olmec statue to the People of Ethiopia. The People of Ethiopia said a polite thank you and put it in the garden of the National Museum.

On the top floor of the museum were some ethnographic knick-knacks on display which included some old black and white photographs. They provided me with an opportunity to try something else besides self portraits….

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Sketch after photograph in the National Museum

When I approached the shared toilet of the hotel I met an Ethiopian man leaving.
I smiled.
I am fine, he said.
Good to hear that, I said. I am fine too.

Next post will be from Europe to where I escaped after my long exile in Addis Ababa….