Dawn was sick again today. Since it was pouring rain I hung out with her roommates, and read, until mid-afternoon when the sun came out. Dawn was still in bed so I ventured out into Addis on my own. None of the streets in Dawn's neighborhood have names so I wrote down the name of a couple of hotels and did my best to remember land marks so I could find my way back - since Dawn doesn't have a phone I'm in trouble if I can't!
Caught a taxi back to the Piazza. Wandered up towards the cathedral - stopping for coffee and a pastry on the way. St. George's Cathedral is a traditional Ethiopian Orthodox Church - shaped like an octagon. It's not particularly beautiful or graceful, but the Ethiopian flag flying against the blue sky from the stylized cross on top was a powerful image. There were a lot of people walking around the church (which was closed). Many of them would stop in the middle of one of the sides and lay their head against the bricks for several minutes - I assume some kind of prayer. While I was walking around the church a little girl (four or five years old) ran up to me. I steeled my self for the ubiquitous "give money" - but she just grabbed my hand, gave me a dazzling smile then ran back. I looked back to the group she was running to and there were for younger women sitting on the steps - also with huge smiles. I smiled back and continued on my way - but in a great mood now.
From St. George's I walk to the Mercado area. The market itself was pretty much inactive on a Sunday, but there were lots of people around. I still had a smile on my face and almost everyone smiled back and I shook a lot of hands. On the far side of the market I cut down a dirt alley through the poorest neighborhood I've seen in Addis. There were plenty of people sitting in front of their houses or just strolling, there were kids playing in the street, and there were no other faranji. I stopped and played football in the street with some boys - much to their amusement when they figured out if they were blindfolded they'd still be better soccer players than I. I stopped and jumped rope with some girls - much to everyone's amusement. I stopped and talked with old and young men. I had a good time - and it seemed so did everyone else.
After getting back to the main street I walked down Churchill and then cut over to Africa Hall (where Dawn works for the U.N.) It was starting to get dark by now so I walked up the hill to the Sheraton - I hotel I was told I must visit. The hotel is brand new and incredible. I don't think I've ever been in such a nice or elegant hotel! It was here I saw the only other white faces for the day (but not many even here). I walked around and admired the artwork, then headed to the grill for diner - a decent pizza.
I left the hotel complex on foot (no way I was going to try and bargain for a taxi in front of the Sheraton!) The sun was long gone, but the sky was the most incredible violet color. I walked back down the hill to the Africa Hall and crossed the street - only to get yelled at by a bunch of soldiers with very large guns - pointed at me. Apparently you can't walk on the sidewalk next to the palace at night. I caught a taxi and with only a few false starts made it back to the house.
Dawn was still in bed so I played cards with her for a while then packed and went to bed at two - and with a six am alarm...