Oh, the magic of the name: Addis Ababa! Ethiopia is one of the
poorest countries on earth, but the capital–at least the route from the
airport to the 5-star Sheraton–looks prosperous and clean, compared
with all other African cities I’ve seen. So far.

The Sheraton has a desk at the airport, and the guy there was
expecting me–but 5 hours earlier than I actually arrived, thanks to a light dusting
of snow at Heathrow that apparently brought the United Kingdom to a
halt. I was driven to the hotel, the only passenger in the Sheraton’s
30-seat van. Curiously, a “welcome to Salzburg” video was playing on the
TV screen. I was cheered to see Mozarts Geburthaus, where I once made a
pilgrimage, not knowing there are about a zillion Mozart houses in

The usual tiny shops and stalls line the streets, but there is far
less trash and debris than other places I’ve been. I don’t think I’ve
seen one of the ubiquitous blue plastic bags that litter Africa. I have,
however, of course seen the $5 white plastic chair, without which there
would seem to be no seating whatever on this continent.

Two fabulous sights: what appeared to be a (dilapidated) apartment
building, with a life-size replica of an Ethiopian Airlines jet coming
out of it as the long jetway-like entrance ramp to the building. Or like
a very weird plane-crash-into-a-building incident.

And a great drinks stand in the shape of a very large Coke bottle,
complete with enormous bottle cap and a kind of large hinge that serves
as the “door” to the shop.

Must head out shortly–more later! 

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