Merry Christmas from Addis Ababa

My dream has finally come true. I’m in Africa! Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to be exact. Well, ok, the Addis Ababa part of it is far from a dream. To me the city seems like one big tragedy of humanity - a strange fuse of colonial and socialist architecture as well as tin-shacks that make up most of the small shops and all the slum dwellings. The city is overwhelming in many different ways - beggars, street hustlers, noise, pollution - a little of everything. Nevertheless, this is Africa! I have wanted to come here since I was a child and now I’m here at last.

While I’ve been in the “wonderful” city of Addis my main aim has been to find out whether it is was possible to buy a motorcycle. I found out that it was and after some of the most amazing bureaucratic procedures I am happy to say that I now own a motorbike in Ethiopia, what’s even better is that it’s registered under my name, not something you can do in some of the places I’ve been riding around. I’m looking forward to exploring this country which seems to offer so much, and I'm gonna do it on my terms now. Woohoo! :)

I haven’t had much time to shoot. Over the past few days I’ve been running around government offices trying to sort out the papers and around the markets, to buy the materials to make saddle bags for the motorbike. Nevertheless, I did make some photos, so here they are.

Mother and daughter crossing Churchill Avenue in the morning. When I first arrived in Addis it had this apocalyptic feel to it (to me at least). Lots of concrete, construction and at the same time a lot of decay and crumbling roads and architecture.

Street kids playing cards by the roadside. There have been quite a few people who have not been crazy about being photographed and a few who wanted money as soon as I would raise my camera. It was refreshing that these kids, who have absolutely nothing didn't demand anything at all. I smiled, they smiled. I asked if they could continue their game of cards. They did, smiling all the way through,

A common sight outside of my hotel every morning. Young and not so young men in Ethiopia are crazy about football. On Sundays the roads become football fields until about 8 am.

Addis is unexpectedly cold around winter time and my guess is that people use coal for heating. That would explain the smell of burning coal that fills the air early in the mornings and late in the evenings.

While wondering around the back-lanes of the surrounding residential areas I came across this scene. Coincidentally all the members of this family just kinda froze and looked at the "faranji" (foreigner).

As in a lot of Asian countries a lot of life and activities happen in the streets and, space is certainly at a premium.

Street scene in "Mercato" possibly Africa's largest market. The "Lonely Planet" says that if you're gonna get robbed anywhere in Ethiopia - this is the place. There are certainly a lot of dodgy characters around, but I'm happy to report that during our four visits we had not lost anything.

The vegetable market section of mercato was what I found most fascinating in the area. Vibrant, lots of characters and energy.

Another scene from the vegetable market. The amount of manual labor that takes place at markets in "developing" countries is amazing and Ethiopia seems to be no exception. Carrying incredible amounts of stuff on heads seems to be a particularly common thing.

Yet more heavy loads, this time for the donkey too. An insanely large number of donkeys are used as goods carriers around Addis and its outskirts.

That's it from me for now. It's been an exhausting week. But things are getting set in place for this adventure, which I am now getting very excited about.

I hope to have internet in places that I visit in the near future. If not "A very happy new year to all of you!"