Feb. 8th 2003
We were scheduled to go to the Ethiopian museum today but many of us went to BA to claim for the hassle caused by not having any clothes.

After we had at least got part of our money, some of us headed into Addis Ababa properly. This was the first time in the town without any experienced help.

We saw many things on the way into town, and I found myself talking to lots of people trying to practice my Amharic. While talking to one person the police asked him to leave us alone. He was actually giving us lots of interesting information and asked told the police (in amharic :-)) that there wasn't a problem. The police weren't rough at all, they had just asked him to leave us alone.

Once we arrived in the Piazza (Ethiopia has been occupied by an Italian force) we bought some food in a local restaurant. Again, we weakened and went for Italian food which tasted fantastic. We also had some fruit juices but with a slight difference. You would probably pay a fiver for what costs much less than a pound here. The fruit juice I had was large, and a mix of pineapple, strawberry, avocado and something else. The different colours sat on top of one another in the glass and it seemed a shame to actually drink it. In fact, you don't drink it as such, you're given a spoon. The juice is that thick.

I separated from the rest of the group to have a walk around Addis. For nearly every person that asks for money, there is a local to tell them to stop bothering the ferenji. I was able to get a couple of books on Amharic so I achieved my goal.

Walking back, I bumped into some people that worked for VSO and went bowling with them. The bowling centre is, compared to the UK, small. It is also quite old, having been there since the Italian occupation. Considering it was a saturday afternoon, it was very quiet. It is probably too expensive to go, unless for a treat. Forget the computers and screens. Forget balls that roll straight. Forget perfectly level alleys. And, forget the machine that puts the pins back. Score is kept on pieces of paper by yourself. Once you have launched your bowling ball you can delight in the bumping sounds that it makes as it unevenly rolls down the alley. VSOs have given names to the balls such as 'flintstone', 'frankenstein' and 'pockey'. Assuming that you manage to get some of the pins down, a man at the other end is charged with the job of putting them back. All you see of him are legs and hands - he is completely behind the pins, or balancing above them somehow trying not to get hit.

In the evening there was a small get together with VSOs and some local ex-pats, some of whom have also been VSOs. One of the things about VSO is that you do find yourself talking to people from places such as the British Council. Understanding the politics of the country and your regions is a must because you have to be very careful what you say and how you act - Ethiopian people might believe that your views are those of the council, or some other body or group.

In the evening my legs were extremely tired. It had been a long time since I had done as much walking and I had never walked at such an alititude before. One of the other effects of the altitude has been on my pots of vitamin pills. They were packed in the UK, I guess, and then sealed. The aluminium seals are now all bulging due to the reduced air pressure.