Thursday, February 13, 2014


Once you come to an urban center here, the markets sell a wide range of goods in a variety of ways. The footpaths, such as they are, provide space for enterprising vendors who want to sell vegetables, cane sugar, footwear or sporting equipment. Malls take the form of multi-storey buildings with a rabbit's warren of stalls. Stock is tightly packed into whatever space there is. 

The bazaar is often unpaved so one shares the track with animals. The approach to waste management is haphazard. Debris is strewn in the middle of the road and, periodically, removed. Prices vary. Foreigners with some Amharic, such as my friend Brian, can negotiate a price that is close to the local value. 

Brian was in search of Ethiopian national team track pants and this pursuit was accomplished with the help of a tout to whom he paid a tip for his services. The brilliantly coloured national garb and sports jerseys are hot items. The latest stock appears to be made in China even though textile factories exist here. Traditional cotton garb is inexpensive and practical. Western gear, especially jeans, is available and some women favour the skin-tight version. The hip young men often opt for baggy trousers. 

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