Yesterday the streets of Addis were deserted. Walking to the office to pick up a car and do a little work I didn't even have to slow down to cross Bole Rd., let along wait five minutes and make a mad dash for it as I do on a normal work morning. It took me 10 minutes to make the drive from my house to the gym that usually takes me 30 minutes after work.
By contrast the sidewalks were crowded with Bole-ites going socializing last night. As I walked to the end of the dark Marie Stopes Rd and onto the brightness of Bole Rd., there were people everywhere walking in groups, smiling and talking in animated fashion. At 7:00 p.m. all the cafes were packed. The parking area in front of the new Kaldi's was complete pandemonium, with stressed-out parking attendants waving their arms frantically. I walked down the little driveway beside Kaldi's to the Mask Bar to meet K and D for a drink and to decide where to eat. The Mask is a very small, very friendly little West-African-themed bar. Its customers are mainly locals, but it sees enough Ferenges so I don't stop conversations just by walking in. My pals arrived in short order and after a drink we strolled further towards the airport to Amsterdam Cafe for pizza and Ambo.
After dinner, D pled fatigue and retreated back to Bole/Rwanda. K and I walked almost to the end of the rd to Harlem Jazz. On Fridays there's a musician who plays a fun mix of blues, motown, reggae, R&B, and disco. He's a transplant from Washington DC and plays with local musicians. He's extremely popular. When we got there at 10 it was mostly empty and we had our pick of seats. When we left three hours later, there literally wasn't a place to stand. The Harlem Jazz is an old place with low ceilings which make it seem even more crowded. There's an outdoor chill-out area with its own bar for dancers who get over-heated. The customers are a mix of locals and Ferenge. Last night Germany was well represented, with groups of young Deutchlanders arriving in packs.
For someone who rarely sees 10:00 p.m., the 1:00 a.m. walk home was a long one. I was asleep before I had a chance to turn over once.
* "Habesha" is how Addis Ethiopians refer to themselves in terms of ethnicity.