Just got back to Addis from Gondor. What a strange place that was. Wandering around crumbling Italian palaces, drinking macciatto (sp?), surrounded by donkey carts and goats. I was glad to have Helen, our Ethiopian travel companion, with us for this city of confusion. My favorite scene in Gondor was Faisal's Bath (hmm, not sure about that name, my memory is going...). The stone walls surrounding the bath drip with fig tree roots, reminding me of Angkor Wat. Such a serene place, and a nice break from the craziness of the city itself. We took a donkey cart across town to get there, which for me and my bleeding heart for animal welfare was a little traumatic but at the same time was exhilerating (...wishing blogger had spell check...). My other favorite time in Gondor was walking down the hill from our hotel instead of taking a car, and ending up in a stone tossing contest with a few shepherd boys along the way. Sadly, I seem to have lost whatever throwing arm I had and was shamed. :)
I'm hoping for a 3 day side trip to either Harar or the Great Rift Valley next, but things are difficult to coordinate - I neglected to take "Ethipian time" into account when I thought I could plan this side trip. I'm beginning to feel very comfortable walking the streets in Addis and communicating, though I still hate brushing off the beggars and the kids selling packs of gum. I thnk farenji fatigue is setting in a little - my group gets extra stares because we're 3 tall pale women and 2 kids with dredlocks. Dredlocks are strongly associated with rastafarians here, so we're constantly pointed at with shouts of "Rasta! Rasta!".