Selam from Addis Ababa,
I’m already three weeks in Ethiopia and I witnessed an election campaign, rallies and democratic polls. All went very peacefully. However, today May 21st 2005, it’s going to be announced the result of the election (Addis Ababa region) and already the army of the ruling party is patrolling with heavy guns the streets. Two days ago all foreign Embassies had a meeting and made an evacuation plan. If anything happen we are in the zone two and we should evacuate to the French Embassy.
I live at the Czech NGO house in Addis, and I do lots of photos in the streets. People are generally very nice, but you have unbelievable number of beggars here, they are from small children to old folks. It looks like the most popular job in Addis and whole of Ethiopia is begging. There are also many crazy people on the loose here, it happened to me twice that a lunatic picked up a large rock and was ready to throw it at me. I wasn’t hit thanks to nice people around me who protected me.
It seems to me that nothing is working properly in this country. Faucet when turn on and off comes away in your hand, lockers stopped working after few days, doors cannot be close properly, the sink is leaking, not mention our phone doesn’t work already for three weeks and nothing, nothing is happening. It looks like that it will not work for another year. That means for us no mail at home and we have to go to the public internet – pain in the ass.
On the other hand I love their juices, just for two Birr, it’s so thick that spoon could stay straight like soldier in it. The best one is from avocado, but mango, banana and another tropical fruits are not bad either.
Everybody told me that the worst of everything is to get some permission, an accreditation or any kind of papers from any ministry. I must say it took me two days to get an accreditation for the election period. And it took me also two days (one day I had applied for and second day I had picked it up) to get another one so I can shoot in their provinces (regions). Not bad, eh? I think that the Canadian passport helps a lot.
I have decided to buy a mobile phone so I can be reached if there will be some jobs. My father always says you have to invest to make money. And as usual he’s right. The problem is you just cannot go and buy it. It takes time as everything else here. So it makes me frustrated, finally I have made my decision and want it immediately. Impossible task, ah.
There is a plenitude of fleas, dog fleas, cat fleas, human fleas. You killed three and ten you will get. Any closer approach to a farmer, a beggar or a homeless, there is a guarantee that at least one will jumps on you. I am bitten all over my body and will be until I will leave Ethiopia. I guess I have just to learn to live with it/them.
I have to make a confession, today, when I left the Ministry of Information, I bought a ceramic bowl with my last money (it was so cheap I couldn’t resisted, just 6 Birr) and didn’t have one birr on me (have lots of at home) for minibus to get back home. So I begged on the street. One guy gave me one Birr, but he was so confused and couldn’t believe that a white man is begging. He said that he has never seen in his life “ferenie” who begged. Not nice from me, yah, but I didn’t want to walk about six kilometres.
So, I will try to send this letter today, or Monday if we will not have to be evacuated.