There are a number of things that I could write about this week. I could talk about my new job, well I don’t get paid and I show up when I feel like it but I do some work when I’m there. I could talk about the school that my kids go to, the school is awesome but I think I will post about the school another time. I could talk more about the lack of driving rules; instead I think that I will settle on writing about my latest weekend adventure.
In order to avoid killing each other this weekend we decided to walk to a museum that is a ways down the road from our house. When I say a ways down the road what I mean is, about 2 miles down the road from my house. I might be exaggerating a little bit but that’s my story and I’m sticking with it; a minimum of 2 miles. As I’ve explained in my previous post the road conditions here are not pedestrian friendly because the roads are not pedestrian friendly the pedestrians walk in the street making the streets un-friendly to drivers as well.
The “side walk” that I pushed the stroller on consisted of rubble. There was a space where the sidewalk should have been but instead of sidewalk there were rocks, holes and dirt. I’m so glad that I have a stroller that can somewhat maneuver over this terrain! It took us about 30-40 minutes to walk to the museum. Along the way we saw all of the usual craziness. Jacob was kissed by a minimum of three different people on our way to the museum, that’s about once every ten minutes. I have learned that Ethiopians LOVE children. I was talking to someone from the UK who has lived in Addis for the last 5 years and she explained to me that it is considered rude not to kiss or at least blow kisses to small children when they are out in public. I love that people love Jake and want to kiss him, however it does make me nervous that he will get sick! I keep wipes and hand sanitizer on me at all times now!
The name of the museum we visited is “The Red Terror” Museum. The red terror is a year and a half period of time in Ethiopia’s history where the Government killed, imprisoned and tortured thousands of people! It was sad to learn about the terrible things that happened here not that long ago. There were stories of children being murdered because “they were a threat to the regime” which is an insane assumption. The man that gave the tour walked us through every piece of information on every wall of the museum. We discovered halfway through the tour that he had actually been imprisoned. He was 15 years old and was taken off of the street and put in jail for no reason at all. He was not working for the rebels he was just taken. He told us that he was tortured and had his toenails pulled out! He spent a total of 8 years locked up and totured! It was crazy to talk to this man who had endured such atrocities. To look at him he seemed like such a normal person. I want this blog to remain a light hearted blog but I believe that learning about the history of the country that I am living in to be important so I will leave you with the website for this museum and you can decide how much of Ethiopia’s recent past you would like to learn about. You can find the link on the page tab “Red Terror” at the top of the blog next to the “Book Club”.
After the museum we went to a café for lunch. This week’s dining experience was much improved from last week. We ordered pizza and honestly it was not the worst pizza that I’ve had. It wasn’t great but not bad. James ordered mango juice, what he received was pureed mango. James didn’t mind he devoured it all! Jacob was acting like a “red terror” himself and at one point I had to take him outside. I made him sit in a chair while he was screaming and crying throwing an epic tantrum. Two Ethiopian women were staring at us like we were crazy. Remember, Ethiopians LOVE babies and little kids so I’m sure that they believed that I was being entirely unreasonable. I assure you that Jacob was in fact being the unreasonable one. On the other hand I have never seen an Ethiopian child act as naughty as Jacob does. So, Maybe they were wondering why Ferengie children are such brats. He finally calmed down and we went back into the cafe and finished our meals. We did really well this week we only spent 130 birr or about $7.00! That is two juices, two bottles of water, one soda and a pizza!
Just down the street from the museum was Meskel Square. Meskel square is where the Meskel day celebrations are held on September 27th. Meskel square is a massive square that can hold thousands of people. There was nothing going on while we were there but I can imagine what it must look like to have thousands of people all over the square and road. The square is also used for other festivals and large gatherings.
Across the street from the museum was a large Ethiopian Orthodox Church. We have wanted to explore the Ethiopian Orthodox Church buildings or Cathedrals since we arrived in Ethiopia. This beautiful church was too much for us to ignore, we decided to cross the 8 lanes of traffic and make our way over to the church. This was an insane undertaking with out the help of streetlights or stop signs. I believe that the road we crossed was Meskel Flower Rd and it is largest road that I have crossed on foot while living here. There are cross walks but they don’t mean any thing. The cars didn’t even slow down as we ran across each lane. I was so terrified that I nearly peed my pants. I felt like we were the frogs in the video game Frogger! Luckily we did make it across this huge highway type road!
We made our way toward a large stairway that led up to the Cathedral, rather than take Jacob out of the stroller we carried the stroller up the stairs to the church. Ethiopian people do not use strollers. They strap their children onto the their backs if they bring them out at all. Most people don’t take their young children out very often, maybe that is why people kiss the babies that are out and about…hmm? I have only seen a few people pushing strollers in Addis and every one of them was ferengie. Anyway, we are carrying the stroller with Jake in it to the top of this large stairway. The Hubs is in front and I’m in back and the strange looks we got from people was almost comical. We made it to the top of the stairs and began to look around. The church was beautiful! There was a dome on the back and many Ethiopian crosses on the top. Ethiopian crosses have lots of points around the cross. I’m not sure of the symbology for this cross but I will research it and let you know. On the front of the church there was tile work depicting St. Stephan being stoned and going to heaven, a little graphic but still beautifully done.
The most unusual aspect of this church was the HUGE speakers that were mounted on all sides of the church. If you are not an early riser naturally, living in Addis, you just might become one. On my first morning here in Addis I woke to the sound of what I thought was “call to prayer”. Now that didn’t make any sense, Ethiopia is a primarily Christian country! I was extremely confused until I learned that the Ethiopian Orthodox also do a “call to prayer” in the morning. Lucky for me I have about three churches around my house! I actually like the way it sounds and now I am able to block out the singing and sleep through it in the morning. The funny thing about the Orthodox Church in Ethiopia is that they do not always do call to prayer at the same time. So you can’t really say “I will get up at “call to prayer” because sometimes they start at 4am and other times the call to prayer will be at 7am. Like much of the rest of Ethiopia they are pretty laid back I guess.
We wandered around the church for a while but decided that we didn’t know enough about the rules to go in. The women here cover their hair when they go to church and there were people prostrating at the door and kissing the priests cross, so we would have felt a little odd using their place of worship as a museum or historical sight that needs to be explored. Well, and that priest looked like he was giving us the stank eye. We carefully carried the stroller down the stairs and headed back across the huge road, James was literally inches from being run down by a blue donkey during that ordeal. Rather than traverse the rubble again we decided to take some back roads to our house. As we neared the road that we live on some little boys decided that we needed an escort and that Jake needed to be loved up some more. They walked us all the way home! They even tried to push the stroller. The gate guard for the house across the street finally ran them off (our weekend guard quit on usL). After such a long day all I wanted to do was rest! But alas a mother’s work is never finished!
Until next time friends and family!
Survival tips for walking and visiting Holy places
1) Be sure that you check with a well-informed local about rules and traditions for the religious place you are visiting.
2) When going for a “walk” even in the city in Addis wear appropriate foot wear.
3) Prepare for your children to embarrass you repeatedly!
4) Don’t be afraid to go out and be with the population, you have a lot to learn!
|The outside of the Museum|
|This is a bad picture of a wedding|
|Memorial to the people who were killed during the Red Terror|
|I have to love him or I'd get rid of this crazy boy|
|This is in the Cafe where we had pizza|
|Part of Meskel Square|
|James at Meskel Square|
|I think that this is St. Michael's but I'm not sure|
|Note the speakers!|