It is a blessing for a tourist to visit a country where he can melt amongst the population, and to have a VIP service if he is recognised. This happens to a Sudanese visitor to Ethiopia.   

Ethiopia – Wide Land and Friendly People

A vapour of fresh coffee ascends from small cups ... babies laughing, running and playing after their mothers released them ... passengers chatting with their neighbours as if they know them for decades ... airhostesses busy in serving all those … and “bonna” “bonna” on the tip of every tongue. The scene is from an Ethiopian Airline’s trip from Jeddah to Addis Ababa, but the crowd, the friendliness, the warmth and the informality are characteristic features of the Ethiopians wherever and whenever you meet them.

Gubri, the taxi driver, who toured me in Addis Ababa feels uneasy when took money, because “we become friends”. When he knew my fascination with taking photos of the pictures of baby Jesus in African feature, he made it his job to fetch new places for shooting: “I find you a new baby Jesus no arabi no white but africono’’, he said every morning. 

Addis Ababa offers many attractions. In addition to the ordinary places, one can visit the traditional coffee houses. These houses offer traditional food, drink, music and dance.  The guests are invited to participate in the playing and dancing. I once pretending to be a fortune-teller, and soon people gathered around me to see their fortune – you do not need a long time to feel at home in Addis. The night is a quiet time in Addis, most shops close by sunset. But nightclubs, bars and some restaurants work until early in the morning. The nightclubs, unlike the traditional houses, play modern music from every corner of the world.

The real Ethiopian experience is in the countryside. There are too many attractive places and the choice depends on the tourist’s preference and budget. Axum, Gondar and Harar are the best historical destinations. Nature's lovers have the lakes, mountains and safaris. For a tourist with a limited budget, I suggest visiting Shashamani, Awasa, and Wondo Genet, as I have done. These are neighbours and they are not far from Addis Ababa.

In Shashamani one can taste the life of the Ethiopian small towns. From there one can go to Awasa to relax by the lake and then to Wono Gent to climb the green mountain where the clouds pass between one's hands.  Exploring the areas and swimming in the springs’ water after a long walk are the most amazing activates. Nights are a time for relaxation.

Wabi Shebele hotels are the best outside Addis Ababa. In many of them, each room stands alone as a small house. In others, there are African huts, but these are not recommended in the rainy season.

Ethiopians are famous for their delicious food. Spices, meat and vegetables have the same taste as in Sudan. Therefore, even the manner of coking is different, the taste is still the same.

A journey to Ethiopia will not be complete without a visit to Morcato – Addis Ababa's famous shopping area. Most of the traders there are kind old women who know that you come to the market after spending all your money. They will not let you return empty-handed, even a small amount of money can buy you a beautiful token.

The Ethiopian journey fills one with satisfaction. The visitor returns home but he will never forget the people he met and the places he visited. The journey expands one’s humanity – he meet people who despite hardship still have much to offer.

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