Salambo discovering Ethiopia
I finally went to Piassa (from the Italian word piazza), one of the oldest area in Addis, and maybe the only one which still has old buildings dating from the beginning of the 20th century. Piassa is also known for its late-night bars and clubs, for its restaurants and daytime shopping (particularly Ethiopian silver jewelry). In Piassa, we find Enrico’s, the most famous pastry shop in the city, where generations of Ethiopians have bought birthday and Christmas cakes. I understand Enrico’s is a bit of an institution here. From 7am it is packed with people having breakfast, usually a macchiato coffee (which is the equivalent of a cappuccino in Italy) and a croissant or brioche.
By 11am, all the cakes have sold out, so popular the place is. The choice is however limited: they daily sell Panettone, Mille foglie and sponge cake with a layer of cream inside, while a slightly wider selection is on order. Going to Enrico’s feels like going back to Italy in the 1950s. The tables and chairs are made of steel, aluminium and formica, just like they were 50 to 60 years ago. Behind the main counter, illuminated picture boards indicate what kind of cakes are for sale. Just like in Italy, all orders must be paid before taking delivery, but instead of giving a receipt, they give a coloured plastic token on which is written the number of coffees and cakes one has purchased. Enrico’s is a high turnover place, where people come and go at a fast pace to quickly have breakfast.
On a more domestic note, we’re getting used to living with frequent power cuts. On average, we get the electricity cut off about twice a week for about an hour or more. We knew about it so rented a house with a power generator. It is great to have, except that it is not powerful enough to feed the whole house. So, to be able to start it we have to unplug the fridge, the boiler for the bathroom and all the other hungry appliances. In other words, the generator is just powerful enough to light three lamps, so not much more effective than a few candles. In fact, I almost prefer to light candles instead as they create a different atmosphere and make a power cut more fun. We are currently experiencing the longest cut we’ve had so far (almost 24 hours), which is becoming a problem for the food in the fridge and freezer and for the hot water. As I am writing, I am hoping that the electricity will be back on when I go back home later today (I am now in the Hilton, which has become my office and second home, and the best place for reliable electricity supply). It seems that most power cuts are due to a lack of producing capacity and sudden surge in demand. Ethiopia has plans to build more power stations to meet the increased need for power, but I haven’t looked into it in more details. I just hope that the power cuts will remain intermittent and short.