I took many videos of Erta Ale, and I would have spent all day watching it if I could have; it’s that mesmerizing for me. Here’s my favorite video, which I just uploaded today:
I’m back in Addis Ababa, and have regular electricity and internet access. It’ll be nice to get back to the U.S., where I can speak English and people understand me… well, at least most of the time. Today, I wanted to get to a specific place, and the taxi driver had no clue where he was going. He might have tried to clarify the destination before heading out. But no. Instead, he took me to one incorrect destination after another, each time asking directions.
It’s just one example of the inefficencies I’ve seen in Ethiopia. While in Harar, I noticed the cleaning lady sweeping the floor, and then mopping it, by stooping down and scrubbing it by hand. I asked why she doesn’t just attach a stick to the rag and use it as a mop; it would be much easier on her back and it would be more efficient. I was told: “That’s just the way it’s done here.”
While in Lalibela, I noticed that the multitude of flies caused misery for everyone, including myself. The soldiers were constantly shooing them away, and pilgrims suffered as well. This was around the church complexes. There were several small pools of stagnant water near the churches, which were full of maggots. I asked why they don’t just spray the water, drain it or find some other way to prevent flies from using these pools as hatcheries. I got no good answer. Apparently, nobody made the connection between the maggots in the water and the swarms of flies that afflicted us all.
At a hotel somewhere in the south, I had requested a knife and spoon to eat the fresh papaya I’d purchased on the street. I understand that there is a language problem; few people, even at hotels, speak English well. But when the employee brought me two knives, I had to ask myself, “what in the world was he thinking? What was I going to do with two knives?”
I’ve met some very intelligent people here in Ethiopia. Some of them have great insights, and I’d like to keep in touch with them. For the most part, staff at the nicer hotels are comparable to what you’d find in the U.S. But now and then I’m reminded of the studies that show Ethiopia’s average I.Q. as 70 or so.