Tuesday, 8 November 2011

An African interlude

I have been quiet recently as I have been in Ethiopia.  My OH is always telling me that I'm a lucky lucky man and the part of my job which lets me travel is definitely lucky.  I have been to Africa a few times, but this was my first time to East Africa and Ethiopia was somewhere I had always wanted to visit.  Sadly this was not a holiday and so I didn't get to explore and only saw Addis Ababa. I could get very carried away writing about my trips but as it's got nothing to do with plants, I will just post a few pictures of the city.

It was much greener than I expected; in fact the flight was over the most beautifully patchwork of fields with a multitude of greens not something I think of when I pictured Ethiopia.

The entire city is surrounded by mountains and is a mixture of the smaller, older, ramshackle style of building and the more modern buildings.  As with any city in the world the skyline is changing as buildings get taller. As my original degree is in civil engineering, I love looking at the different construction methods.  Many are the same, but one that is different in each country is the scaffolding materials. In some countries bamboos are used, but in Ethiopia it is local wood

 No matter how posh the building, the materials are always the local wood.

I find it a little surreal seeing these glass building surrounded by the wood like this.  The other thing that changes is the cost of labour.  Where labour is cheap, everything is done by hand; breaking up stones, mixing concrete and loading and unloading trucks:

I did not envy these guys having to fill the truck with the left over gravel.  It was quite hypnotic watching the two in the front working in perfect synchrony.

Sadly I had no time to explore, especially as Ethiopia has some lovely native aloes.  These were strangely missing from the street plantings which consisted of agave attenuata and various palms. So it looks like I will have to go back to properly see the native flora. There is probably a post on how plant addiction affects holidays.

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