Thursday, May 11, 2006

Conference over

The consular conference is over, and I'm here for another day...

Most people are staying for a few extra days for travel in country. Some went on a city tour this morning; others are doing a city tour, then visiting an underground church about 45 minutes south of Addis. One's staying for a whole other week, and still others are going to make their way north to a city with over 40 distinct churches and on to Eritrea. They're going to have to fly through a third country, because of the ongoing conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
I'm sticking around the hotel for the morning, because in the afternoon I'll be meeting up with a friend from Manila for a tour.
I'm impressed by Addis. It's obviously poor, but there's a lot of money here too. The Sheraton is almost surreal in its relative opulence, and there are a fair number of other tall buildings, and a couple new skyscrapers. Many nice restaurants, but Lome has some too. The difference here is that these are busy.. and not just with expats, but Ethiopians. The division of wealth is no doubt huge, with no real middle class, but there is money coming in. That's a start.
The climate is great.. the sun is strong, but the city is almost 9,000 feet up. It's nice and cool, making it actually comfortable to walk around. There are lots of grocery stores, and the roads are in passable shape. Traffic is bad, but that seems to be an effect of the money coming in. The Embassy is on a large compound that looks like a college campus. Lots of trees, many different buildings, and about 10 houses. There's also houses near the old airport, the new airport, and elsewhere.
Bottom line, I'm trying to keep an open mind about AF -- it all isn't like Togo.

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