by Jenny Makepeace

Our final day in Addis Ababa included a visit to Trinity Catherdral, next to the parliament building, built by the Armeians before some pogram sent them off to South Africa, baroque in style with Greek influence.

It contains the thrones of Haile Selassie and that of his queen on which they sat during services, also their tombs – monumental granite affairs where their bodies were brought long after their death.

In the graveyard outside is the tomb of Sylvia Pankhurst – the British women emancipation heroine, whose grandson still lives here working as a lecturer in one of Addis Ababa universities.

There is a neat little ecclesiastical museum in the grounds with the now familiar collection of robes, crowns, bibles etc.  Close by is an older style round church.

In the afternoon to St George’s Cathedral where an enormous tortoise lives by the museum entrance, quite happy to have its chin rubbed and occasionally taking a large bite of grass revealing wide pink mouth.

Our local guide here doled out the usual legendary patter in a fast staccato, his best asset is his ability to mimic the singing of the priest – pronounced ‘priestee’ ( we both thought at first he was saying priestess.

The Ethiopians have a way of adding an e to the end of words, so one hears clothees, guesties and many others.
He demonstrated the use of the three musical instruments – well hardly musical, but the big drums, the metal Jewish lookalike instrument and the prayer stick admirably – like most other things these three tools represent the Trinity.

This Cathedral is easily forgettable.  The incense boxes were the best thing in the museum – often made from fine filigree silver.

Lunch in the Backyard Café, enormous Greek salad for me and pizza, very pretty waitresses and a group of young Muslim women. The shop next door yielded two pots of organic honey. Gallery 21 yielded the aforementioned carved box and a bell.  Horn spoons were bought from a nearby stall.

We had coffee in a characterful Italian bar where another couple – this time American had an adopted baby strapped to them.

We visited the Women’s Pottery Cooperative where five potters work in a rather dismal tin roofed barn, where one slope of the roof is pickled with rust holes, giving the impression of a starry sky on a dark night.

A pretty girl was painting the spots on the pottery guinea fowl – bought one of these and a little candle holder.

By the end of the day we felt unable to do justice to the vast market – apparently one of the biggest in Africa, so we drove slowly through it instead.  One hideously deformed beggar was covered with huge wart like bumps over his back like some enormous toad.

Another time one might tackle the market first thing in the morning whilst one has some energy.

I bought silver jewelery for Bryony and Poppy and an amulet on a cord – giraffe tail and silver for Ralph from the Global shop – seemed pretty expensive but could not be bothered to bargain.

Eskinder met us in the hotel with a marvelous present of several kilos of coffee.  We had a final debriefing session and said our goodbyes.

Home via Rome – good to see the Italian landscape laid out below us, longish wait before the final leg to Heathrow.

Home by about 11pm.

Eskinder Hailu - Manager, Highway Tours

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