Ethiopian Current Situation Analysis Jun 29, 2020

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Just getting there was a challenge. Fighting for a place in a shared taxi at Kazanchis I felt lucky to get a seat at the front, even if two of us were squashed into a space made for one. On the approach to the market the traffic crawled along bumper to bumper. Thinking it might be easier to walk, a quick look out the window told me that would be impossible to get out as all the vehicles were literally inches apart all competing for a tiny gap they could shoot through to get ahead of their neighbor. Relieved to have got there in one piece, stepping out of the taxi, I almost got knocked over by a man carrying seven or eight large plastic barrels on his shoulders. Note to self: remember to look where I’m going at all times! Looking in all directions, clutching my bag in a vice-like grip (having been warned on numerous occasions about pickpockets) the road was successfully crossed. At this point, I should mention that I am not attempting to navigate my way around alone; I’m in the company of a knowledgeable local who I could not do without. For any adventurous tourist reading this please don’t be tempted to go by yourself unless you speak Amharic or have been there before! As anyone will tell you the Mercato spans several square miles, and like the Minotaur’s Labyrinth in Ancient Greece there is a real danger of getting lost and ending up seeing out the rest of your days wandering round the maze of streets and alleyways in never-ending confusion. The Mercato is not really a place to browse aimlessly. Along the main thoroughfares are general shops but there are distinct areas to buy specific goods, so a plan is needed. I had set myself a mission, to find five items that you would never see in a market in the UK and find out a bit about the items and the people selling them.

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