Sunday, September 03, 2006

Addis II

I'm feeling much better today than I have for the past couple of days. I braved leaving the DND label off of my door today, and I am hoping my sheets are not clammy and wet when I get back. I managed by buy some socks today as well, so that's good news.

I have learned a few things about Addis in the short time I have been here. I am going to enumerate them for in list format because I am lazy and this is easy.

1. Taxis are terrifying.
There are a number of reasons why this is true. First of all, I have yet to ride in a taxi that was manufactured before, oh, 1980. Some of these cars are still in ... reasonable repair. Others - I would wager the vast majority - are in really awful repair. One taxi driver had to fill his gas tank through the trunk. In another, all of the springs on one side of the front seat were sprung, so I had to sit wedged in a sort of lopsided manner. However, the one I rode in today was the worst. The passenger door didn't close quite all the way, and the car would sputter and die every time the driver had to shift into first gear. Our maximum velocity couldn't have been much more than 35 mph. I saw a child pushing a small handcart pass us on the road.

The other reason they are terrifying is because lane lines seem to be mere guidelines to be followed at the whim of the driver. My driver from the airport drove me thirty minute to my hotel, straddling the line between lanes. They weave with no apparent purpose - it's not to pass anyone, that's for sure. It's like they are impressionist painters and the road is their canvas.

2. Animals roam the streets.
One of the first things that struck me about Addis is that is seems much more "advanced" than Dar es Salaam. There are major roads with fresh, smooth tar laid across them. These roads even have multiple lanes (see #1) and have the semblance of highways as I conceive of them. Somewhat incongruously, it is not uncommon to run across someone herding a small flock of what I thought were goats. (One of my taxi drivers said they were sheep, but they look very goat-like to me. Regardless, they are definitely small ungulates generally raised for consumption.) These ungulates go tripping across the pavement, their little hooves making small clicking sounds, bleating as they walk.

3. Gasping is perfectly appropriate.
I think it must be something having to do with speaking Ahmraic and learning English, but many people here puncuate their english speech with little gasps. I've never noticed it in people speaking other languages, but in English multiple people have done this. It's used in the same way I would use the word "um", but it's vaguely disconcerting when you think you're having a pleasant conversation with someone.


  1. I enjoy reading about your adventures so much that I might recommend that you spend a little extra time in Africa, merely for my amusement.