Robert Schrader

Scams and Surprises in Addis Ababa

As I left the beauty of the turquoise-domed Medhane Alem Church behind me, a realization too cynical for the first day of my two weeks in Ethiopia set in: Addis Ababa, the country's capital, was like any other city in East Africa—it was just bigger. That was, until a young man approached me and offered to show me around.

I wasn't shocked to learn that our exploration of sights like Merkato Market and the newly-opened Addis Ababa Light Rail wasn't free, not in his eyes. I was disappointed that he asked for his payment as we sipped coffee alongside his actual friends, as if I was actually "one of the gang," but that faded as soon as I bid him farewell, having refused to pay, and made my way into the Red Terror Martyrs' Memorial Museum: There's no better way to get over feeling like a victim than seeing the faces of hundreds of people who were murdered in cold blood.

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