Addis Ababa for beginners
There is no other place like Addis. Though, the first few months, for some, and maybe years for others, it is difficult to adjust to this drastic change of environment. At first you may even have minor panic attacks or even tantrums like 5-year-olds. Getting through your day alive or without going to prison for assault is a great accomplishment, especially if you are researching or opening a business. Heck, sometimes even going to the store to buy water or gum is a headache. Then (after what may seem like decades) later when you finally understand what makes Addis tick you’ll never want to leave.
Addis is populated with people from all over Ethiopia who have different cultures and lifestyle. Not to mention the foreigners who are residents and those who come and go. Considering Ethiopia has never been colonized, Addis doesn’t have western infrastructure. The infrastructure is like a maze, you’ll never know when you’ll get to a dead end or when you’ve reached your destination. In fact working your way around Addis is difficult at first and tolerable at best. Addis is constantly under construction. There is either construction of a building or road. Due to this fact Addis is very dusty. I cannot emphasis enough on how dusty it is. With all of these hurdles, foreigners, tourists and Diaspora alike have difficulty adjusting themselves in Addis. Interestingly enough the solution is just asking someone directions and they’ll gladly help.
Another issue which people always hear but still get surprised is the outstanding number of beggars on the streets. It’s very annoying because most of the beggars don’t even need to beg. Some of them are really in need though. And it’s frustrating because you can’t be sure who to help. But generally, if they’re old or blind it’s safe to help them. Another shocking thing which comes in large numbers is the amount of federal policemen dispersed around the city, especially the city center. Some would think Addis is a war zone! The federal police are always present because there are a lot of political meetings held in Addis so for security purposes the federal police will be on standby.
Did you know that Addis has several attractions both manmade and natural? Most people don’t know this because we’re so absorbed by the thought of going outside of Addis to places like Axum or Arba Minch for a vacation. Addis has several museums, old mosques and churches and so much more. To name a few specific places; red terror martyrs memorial museum, Entoto hill, holy Trinity Cathedral, Ethnological museum, national museum, Anwar Mosque, the Mausoleum of Minilik the II, Adadi Mariam, and Shiromeda market. All of these wonderful places are all in Addis and worth your time to see. If you want a mini-vacation you don’t need to stray to far from your favorite city to enjoy yourself and learn something new.
Before visiting or living in Addis one needs to fully comprehend that traditional food here is very different from what most people are used to. Ethiopian food is very spicy. The spice has two purposes, one is reservation and the other is flavoring. If the traditional food isn’t to your liking there are a lot of restaurants which serve western food.
The above are the basic things one needs to know about Addis in order to minimize the initial shock.
To find your way around Addis, consult the local yellow pages: www.yp.et .