To give you a better idea about my experiences in Addis and my stay at Running Across Borders, here are some photos, with a brief description, from my two weeks in the Ethiopian capital. More can be viewed on my flickR account.
7am in Meskel square. There are lots of guys playing football on what used to form the old stadium. And lots of smog in the background.
The old steps of the stadium are used as a training ground for emerging athletes and keep-fit enthusiasts. Doing a 40 minute run over and back the tiers in that pollution felt a lot harder than it should have.
The new stadium is just down the road and currently undergoing some renovations.
And it's not just in Meskel that they play football. Like all Africans, they're football crazy and play just about anywhere, and not always with a proper ball. Premier League games are regularly shown on Ethiopian TV (even though they only have 2 stations), and live viewing of the New York marathon was interrupted to show Liverpool v Chelsea. That would never have happened in Kenya!
As the Running Across Borders camp is right on the edge of the city, beautiful views of the countryside such as these are only minutes away.
But life in the countryside is hard work. This guy is harvesting his crops by hand. Or at least he was until he spotted us with the camera.
The crops then need to be carried home, by hand or by donkey.
And then there's the water to collect.
Even quarrying, to meet the huge demand for stone for the new roads being built right through this area, is done by hand.
The children are incredibly photogenic and don't mind posing to have their picture taken...
...though that's not to say they won't ask for money. When this group started begging, we gave them a doughnut to share between them. They seemed happy enough.
This is Arsama. She fell in love with my sunglasses...
...but they do look better on her than they do on me!
That's me with some of the lads at Running Across Borders, though some of them are more interested in watching the football than looking at the camera.
At the camp time between training is spent playing cards, scrabble and draughts...
...and some more draughts. I thought the guys how to play pairs - that card game where you turn over two cards and if you get a matching pair you get to keep them and take another turn - something which I later regretted. These guys have photographic memory, and are really competitive. I still won my fair share of games though. What can I say? I'm a little bit competitive myself.
As in Kenya, Toyato Hiace vans are the main form of public transport (only they're blue and white rather than white and yellow), and the private taxis are almost all Lada cars...
... and for the areas where the taxis don't run there are bajaj...
...and horse-drawn 'carriage'.
It's not unusual to see somebody climbing into a taxi with some chickens, a sack of corn, or, in this case, a live sheep being brought home to slaughter.
Addis even has its own Unicorn! Well white horse at least.
The city of Addis from Mount Entoto.
And another beautiful sunset.