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Ethiopia: The Merkato and Goodbye

Before leaving, we spent some time at the Merkato, Africa’s largest outdoor open market. We were lucky to have a guide (Anne’s coworker), as the Merkato is a chaotic place with people and goods everywhere. It is also a place where pretty much every Ethiopian has told me to not keep money in your pockets and to watch out for thiefs.

Historically, Ethiopia is perhaps unique amongst African countries at having never been colonized, but they were nonetheless invaded and occupied by the Italians for a brief time before and during World War 2. The Piazza is the marketplace where the Italians shopped, whereas the Merkato was the market for the native Ethiopians.

Some places of the Merkato are great bargains for tourists, where you can buy good souvenirs that would cost ten times more back at home and the shopkeepers are willing to bargain in a friendly way.

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06-Aug-2011 03:40, SONY DSC-S950, 4.5, 16.0mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 100

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06-Aug-2011 03:53, SONY DSC-S950, 5.1, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100

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06-Aug-2011 04:07, SONY DSC-S950, 5.1, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 100

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06-Aug-2011 04:15, SONY DSC-S950, 5.1, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100

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06-Aug-2011 05:02, SONY DSC-S950, 2.5, 5.8mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 200

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06-Aug-2011 05:02, SONY DSC-S950, 2.5, 5.8mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 640

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06-Aug-2011 05:29, SONY DSC-S950, 5.1, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100

Our guide and friend also showed us around the city a bit, and we got to see a side of Addis Ababa that we hadn’t seen before. There is a lot of development going on outside the city, and we also saw the rich areas where people live in nice homes behind fences and gates.

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06-Aug-2011 06:04, SONY DSC-S950, 5.1, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 100

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06-Aug-2011 06:12, SONY DSC-S950, 5.1, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100

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06-Aug-2011 06:19, SONY DSC-S950, 5.1, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100

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06-Aug-2011 06:56, SONY DSC-S950, 5.1, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 100

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06-Aug-2011 06:29, SONY DSC-S950, 5.1, 5.8mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100

I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to visit Ethiopia. It shows me how much I have and that I can be grateful for the good things in my life, and my horizons broadened just a little bit more. I also learned how differences in institutions can lead to vastly different results. Imagine where the people could be now if not for the abuse they have suffered from at the hands of the elite, whether under the flag of Marxism-Leninism or something else. The most important battleground in the world is the battleground of ideas, and the battleground of ideas within my own mind has been enriched just a little bit more by my visit here.

Thank you, Ethiopia. You are a beautiful country with a beautiful people, and you have much to show the world. I wish the best for you.

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