Sunday, October 11, 2009

From West to East

Africa that is ...

I've just got back from a business trip to Ethiopia. It was short, too short; I barely saw the capital Addis Ababa.

It's been 6 years since I was last in East Africa. It was strange to be back, it made me realise why I love West Africa, having loved the east for so long, exploring the west over the last couple of years I feel more 'at home' there now.

The Ethiopians are lovely, very quiet, very happy but sooo quiet. I kept looking for 'noise' and got fumes instead with the endless Lada taxis on the streets. Only one taxi driver had a radio, a flash one that he told me that a client from US bought him. He loved his radio and played it for the whole journey back to the hotel.

Maybe they're quiet due to the amount of khat they all chew. The amount of bodies, lying all over the place, on roundabouts, along walls, on the edge of streets was incredible; all under the influence of khat. It's in such high demand in the Horn of Africa & Ethiopia is a massive exporter. Apparently there's a weekly flight to Djibouti which is always on time & full of khat for the population. The last taxi I got to the airport from a great little restaurant 'Asqual', my driver was high on something, I presume khat; I was happy that it was only a kilometre away.

So this quietness had me flummoxed, I kept expecting to hear some zouglou screaming out of a maquis somewhere. Especially as one of the girls working in the hotel I stayed in for the first night had 'Abidjan Farot' as her ringtone which she was surprised came from W.Africa until I explained it to her over my breakfast!

No music, no crazy streets of taxis ... just people going about their daily life with the effects of khat very evident.

I'd love to go back one day. It looks to be a beautiful country but I think I've been converted to the West African way of life ...

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