Ghion Imperial Hotel

Addis Ababa




Feb 12th 1974




Dear Folks,

                        Well, as you can see, here I am. Don’t write to me at the above address, because I shall probably have left by the time you get this. I tried several times to call from Heathrow, but all lines out of London were engaged.


                        Good flight, via Rome and Athens on a Boeing 720B. Took 10 hours, though. I’ve been in Addis now about 3 hours, and will get some kip in a minute, then go in to work. I have 250 Ethiopian dollars advance (about £60) so I’m ok.


                        It’s a fantastically beautiful country, the climate is like a warm summer’s day in England. I’m noticing the altitude slightly, though.            


                        The people all seem to be extremely friendly, and they wait everywhere in dozens to carry bags or do any old job for a few cents’ tip. They’re mainly very poor, Addis is a city of great contrasts. Thatched huts a few hundred yards from the Hilton.


                        I’ve just come back from work, bought a packet of English and a packet of American cigarettes (about E$1.50 per pkt, or about 30p, as at home) and tried a glass of the local beer—very fizzy, cold, tasteless and quite expensive, about 25p in English money. A bottle of English or American beer costs about 80p, but spirits are relatively cheap. All these, though, are hotel prices, I’ll see what the local bars and night-spots are like tonight. While I remember, contact me at the address above until further notice.


                        Had some interesting Ethiopian food, a dish of veal cooked in spices with mushrooms and tomatoes, and a peculiar omelette. The veal was very good, the omelette I’m less sure about. Going down for dinner shortly.


                        We have a well-stocked pharmacy, greengrocer’s and supermarket nearby, offering many English foods in addition to local, and a Chinese restaurant offering a 14-course meal for E$4.00—about 90p. Well worth investigating further.


                        Work is fine, modern office, nice people. I’m working with Michel Moësse, the only other computer engineer. He’s French, very helpful and considerate. All letters to Geosource here in Addis will get to me, but I may be travelling again very soon. Probably out to eastern Ethiopia next week, Somalia soon after, maybe Oman or Turkey within a month. This all gives me very little time to learn what is a highly-complex system, I hope I’ll be able to stay here a bit longer.


                        Accommodation is cheap, and there are many places advertised in shop-windows. Example, 4-bedroom house, 3 bathrooms, American kitchen, dining room, office, living room, servants’ quarters etc., E$1000 p.m. So for four sharing, about £15 a week each out of £26 living allowance. And that is by far the most expensive.


                        Even if I am travelling a lot, I hope to be based here, and will probably see about a flat tomorrow. Much more I could say, but will close here. Loads more letters to write, and work to do. Anyway, it’s dinner time. Write soon, lots of love,