We saw plenty of well-dressed professionals mixed with school children and shop workers scurrying to and fro. We also saw the traditional morning street sweepers, loads of blue taxi's (Lada's from East Germany - where do they even still get parts?) and the street hustlers selling all sorts of wares. What we didn't see was beggars, with the exception of a few truly lame people on crutches.
In the center of the city you might see a few goats and the occasional stray bovine, but as you get out in "the neighborhoods" you'll see many more animals being herded to the slaughter houses, and when truly out in the country, whole herds of 30 or more cattle, donkeys, goats and sheep will calmly step in front of your van traveling 100 KPH, or nearly so, making your driver's split-second decision to stop or go a very hairy one!
By the end of our week of constant van touring, human nature kicked in and we stopped being shocked - and start seeing past of all of the infrastructure challenges and took notice at the shiny new buildings rising up, the safe and fun nightlife, and the hustle and bustle of a proud city with great energy, beautiful people and hopefully a bright future.
The extra few days that we have spent in Addis Ababa waiting for our visas to India were a blessing in disguise. We would have come to this city, toured the highlights and moved on to our next destination. Having a few extra days to explore, run errands and get some work done (i.e. Visas to India) made the city a little less foreign to us. We were no longer just visitors but we felt part of the city. It could have been our hosts and their graciousness, or it could have been our lack of urgency to 'pack one more thing in' that allowed us to slow down and really enjoy our time here.
We were also lucky enough to be guests of the US Embassy at the African Union for a presentation of the Grammy Award Winning Harlem Quartet, a string ensemble from New York. They joined us for dinner at an authentic Ethiopian-Italian ;) restaurant to share food and wine and some spectacular conversation, like old friends. One of the highlights of the trip. We hope to have a chance to see them in the states when we return.