Addis Ababa
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The Hilton Compound and International Intrigue
The Internet in Addis Ababa is a bit of shit show. Desperate for a WiFi connection I went to the Hilton Hotel in Addis. Influenced by Aiden Hartly’s The Zanzibar Chest and his descriptions of journalists bunking down at Hiltons, Sheratons and etc as they chase the next set of disasters, I knew this Hilton lobby is like none other. After two tiers of security and metal detectors, I walk into the lobby and survey the scene. Foreign business men, diplomats, journalists, NGO donors and executives, an abundance of ex-pats with a sprinkling of tourists….perhaps a spy or two in the mix as well. I buy a 24-hour access card for the WiFi and start answering emails. Every so often I look up from the screen to survey the crowd and glace at the television screen with CNN headlines cycling through. As daylight fades, cocktail hour approaches, the bar starts to fill with white men in khaki pants and polo shirts. With its 70's decor, the international clientele here seeking their loot, the scene is set for James Bond's entrance, dapper as all hell, walking up to the bar in a crisp Italian suit ordering a drinking and putting all the khaki pants boys to shame. Being here makes Hartley's Africa come alive; the seeming futility of what journalists risk their lives for, the greed of private interests as well as the international intrigue of one’s fantasy. Stop in for the decent Internet, have a cup of coffee priced for the internationals and do a little people watching. This is Africa.
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