7 – Back to Civilisation : Mekele

7 – Back to Civilisation : Mekele

The view from our hotel in Mekele (Super 3 Pension – with WiFi, electricity AND hot water!! – Most of the time)

Mekele is two thousand two hundred and fifty-four metres above sea level. It’s quite a big city, the fifth largest in Ethiopia, and rather pleasant. There’s a big mall there (more like an open market really), good restaurants (which even sell food that isn’t injeras), lots of bars, cafés and a big university. Note that one’s diner may end in the pitch black due to power-cuts. Romantic.

After eating a lot of injeras, we were happy to find pizza at Green Valley Café!

In the area, we saw quite a few clothes factories for well-known brands, including Calzedonia. They are obviously there to make the most of cheap labour and Mekele’s strategic position (en route from the ports in Djibouti to the rest of Ethiopia and Africa).

To get around the town we used Tuk-tuks (a kind of three-wheeled scooter). Here they are called “bajaj” and are blue and white. The drivers always spoke very little English, if at all, so we resulted to directing them to the right place.

Arnaud directing the bajaj driver from behind his bag

In the evening of the 11th of September, as planned, the Ethiopians celebrated the arrival of their new year (see post 1 for more info). The whole town was very festive. We decided to go out to soak up the atmosphere. We ended up in a bar with a group of lads who took loads of selfies with us and drank loads of Habeshas (a local beer). Every time they emptied a bottle, they put a lit candlestick inside. They were friendly, though a little tipsy!

At midnight, fireworks filled the sky. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012! This year looks promising:

  • It seems Obama is still the favourite and will be re-elected. It’s good to see the US has embarked on a path of progressivism and openness to the world. It should last long, for sure!
  • We are waiting impatiently for the Olympic Games to start in London! #Parislostthebid

We would add that the music kept playing all night long, but that’s no different to any night here. The music never stops and is a little (very) loud. The next day (bank holiday), everyone was dressed so smartly. The men were wearing their best shirt and clean jeans… ok, so it was mainly the women that made the effort. They were dressed so beautifully in their traditional Ethiopian white robes, decorated with colourful hand-embroidery (not forgetting the yellow adey abeba flowers in their hair of course).

Before leaving Mekele, we visited the Martyr’s Memorial Monument; a tall structure that looks like a golf ball sat on a golf-tee. It commemorates when the people revolted against communist tyranny during the Derg regime. There is also a museum there which contains a large collection of photos and military objects from that period (guns, radios, helmets etc). We found the place interesting but solemn.

The Martyr’s Museum

After Mekele we took a minibus heading North to Hawzien. Minibuses are one of the only transports in Ethiopia. The locals call them taxis. They’re basically minivans that have been fitted with the maximum number of seats possible. Even the floor is used when the seats are all full. They leave from the bus station in each town. There’s no schedule, they leave whenever they’re full (which usually doesn’t take more than twenty minutes). Ethiopians rarely have their own car, so for most it is the only way to get from one place to another. We shared this journey with a goat, though he was on the roof with all the bags. Every now and again he gave the roof a thump to remind us he was there! We like to think it was someone’s pet goat going on holiday with them, but we realise this probably was not the case.

4 Replies to “7 – Back to Civilisation : Mekele”

  1. Wow! Jamie and I have just joined you on your blog, and what a treat to read of the wonders that Africa has to offer! Well done on keeping us all up to date with your activities. Can’t wait to read the next one!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *