Snap judgments about Ethiopia

After placing Maua on the plane, I left the airport and found a hotel in Addis Ababa. Here are a few of my first impressions:

It is freezing! I had always imagined it sweltering hot, but when I arrived just before midnight, the outside temperature was frigid. Around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The people seem great. I have already meet hoards of individuals on the street, in restaurants and at tourist attractions that have gone out of their way to be helpful. And not asking for money.

The people are strikingly beautiful. People-watching on the street is like viewing a show on project runway.

The food is fantastic. But a bit spicy.

There is a cultural contradiction. The majority of people, whether Christian (63%) or Muslim (34%), are socially conservative. However, prostitution is rampant. I was having a beer at a seemingly reputable bar and a man across the room was with a scantily clad woman engaging in a variety of activities just short of intercourse. And nobody seemed to care.

The traditional dance is entertaining. Both the men and women seem to be having fun with the quick, high energy movements.

Addis has many elements of a developed country. Well they have nice computer stores, movie theaters, decent roads and good restaurants.

Addis is extremely safe. Many people have told me that there is no problem walking around the city at any time of day. I have found that to be very true.

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