Cris in Ethiopia

Manners, Part Two

Posted by Cris on June 20, 2007

I forgot to mention a few things yesterday. Many times, most actually, I feel at home here and people dont bug me. I thought the other day about a particular taxi route I take where I have never  been asked for the wrong price. That seems unbelievable, but its true. In my neighborhood people

are great- they know or at least recognize me, so I have the benefeits of face-recognition credit, in other words, “I dont have 2 birr now, but can I take the half kilo of avocados and pay you tomorrow?”

But there are those other times which boil my blood. It is a case, basically, of first impression. I look like a tourist, so they

treat me as one. How could they know? The same reason they tell me an avocado is 5 dollars is the same reason their faces

drop when I reply, “Yeah right” in Amharic.

I used to think of the higher prices as a sort of tax. In Senegal it was the “toubab tax”, here the “farenji tax”.  But the more I think about it the more I just realize its a form of racism. I am white, therefore rich, therefore should pay more. Im not talking about when people tell me the wrong price hoping Im an idiot- Im talking about when you know the right price, you see others paying it, and they still wont give it to you. This really, I must stress, doesnt happen often here. Overall im quite surprised at how often it doesnt happen.

No, (some people have asked) I didnt stop the taxi and try to trade places with the preggie lady. It wouldve been too much of

a hassle, and Im not sure people would have understood that I was being nice and not just holding up the taxi more.

***Thanks to everyone for the comments and insight, on this post and all the others. New pictures up, if this computer

lets it happen.

One Response to “Manners, Part Two”

  1. jane said

    Even though I don’t have that many problems with people giving me the wrong price, people stil treat me as the foreigner even though I have been living here for three years. How could they know? But this is quite annoying when they asked me to repeat several times a stupid word like “rose quarter” because I have still a hard time to say the second one! and all of a sudden they like looking at me all weird and thinking oh, god a tourist, or worse… how cute, she is French!

    Anyway… see you soon! we will meet at “rose quarter” if they can get me there!

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