Sunday, July 26, 2009

Route for August 2009 - 2101.58 Miles Through India

Ok, the distance is an estimate, but that's at least the destinations planned so far. Let's see where I will end up in reality then :-).

View India2009 in a larger map

Thursday, July 16, 2009

An Ethiopian Baptism and Wedding

So how happened to this fellow ....? Just read on and you will find out :-)

Finally the day came - after a few days of looking around 'Addis' the big day was coming, the baptism of Mathilde, Marco's and Hermela's daughter, Mathilde, was about to take place! It was a Christian Orthodox-style ceremony in church, followed by a proper celebration in a golf club in the countryside.

As always, one needs to dress appropriately for the occasion - so if you ever go to a baptism in Ethiopia this would be considered just fine:

And where it happened:

Actually, not just our baptism was taking place on this day (in a small room next to the main chapel), there was also a huge three-hour or so wedding going on in the main hall which looked pretty impressive. But what was actually going on on our end?

The officials prepared the bath and checked the temperature to make sure it's freezing cold... yes, just fine!

... a final kiss on the cross...

... and what will happen to you, my dear fellow ....

... by the hands of this man ...

... will make you scream, so happy are you, little Mathilde :-)!

So much for church, next day we went to the golf club to celebrate appropriately. Not just the baptism, also that Marco and Hermela got married just a short time before, but back in Berlin.

Everyone's joining the party...

... maybe 200 people or so attended in total, in a beautiful location as you can see.

Of course, the newlyweds have their special table (and are allowed to eat first)...

... while other couples with their children had to wait.

(Alternatively, beer was always available.)

These gentleman have been looking forward to the party, I can tell! The first bottle of Johnny Walker was done in 30 minutes.

Well, but the second one was open quite soon afterwards anyway, so noone got thirsty here.

This looks like raw meat. But it's actually kind of a vegetarian dish (I think).

The musicians on their way to the food...

... ah, and there our friend from above is again! But he's eating salad, probably hoping that vegetarians have a long, healthy life. So much for the plans you make!

A first dance...

... and the party continued in the house of Hermela's relatives. Quite an upscale place as you can see:

And after cutting the cake...

... and having a drink ...

it was time for a kiss :-)! (The careful observer can of course see the three layers of the pictures, as intended by this expert photographer - a friend of the bride in the foreground, the couple in the middle, and the father of the groom in the background. Happy? Embarassed? Impossible to say...)

That was it for today - looking forward to August 2009 in India, with two weddings coming up and about 10 cities in the whole country on the schedule it should be quite an adventerous trip indeed!

Trip to Addis Ababa - Merkato, the Largest Market of Africa

Here in The Hague (where I am living now) we have what is supposed to be the biggest open air market of Europe. In Addis Ababa there is the biggest market of Africa. Obviously they are ... not quite identical.

So, on the first complete day of my stay in Ethiopia we made a trip to this market, called 'Merkato'. It was a pretty intense experience - I guess the average guy from the west, like me, is simply more accustomed to taking some cheese out of the fridge in a supermarket than to inspecting the eyes of a live quicken when he needs some food. Still, that's precisely the point of traveling, so it was a very enjoyable stay at this market. Some impressions:

One man's trash is another man's resource - recycling is one of the major businesses at the 'Merkato', not unlike similar places in for example India; also involving quite a lot of manual labor. I guess that's a pretty obvious consequence of the prevalent consumerism of 'the west', plus of course middle/upper class people in all countries - lots of everything gets bought, lots of everything gets thrown away, resources (metal, paper, etc.) become available cheaply from scrap, so it's worth doing recyling. Personally I even think that those recyling shops keep cities alive and (relatively) healthy - otherwise they would probably get smothered under all the rubbish they produce every day.

In the next picture: Marco negotiating the price for 100 tons of iron. He wants to build a ship by himself. I told him it's not such a good idea. He finally agreed (and bought aluminium instead).

Show us your knife ...

Women selling vegetables.

That's quite an amusing picture - delieveries from USAID (I guess it was canola oil) recycled into sieves.

The US, recycled.

She found a chicken that pleased her...

... but no worries, there are still some left for you and me:

Lots of impressions, I had a sound sleep that night!