Welcome to our neighborhood shopping mall ...

September 17th, 2013, 1pm

The Laphto mall is a very surreal sight, nestled between the Bisrete Gebriel church and several office complexes under construction.

The main attraction is the Shoa supermarket. As with most ‘supermarkets’ here, they do not have storage space, everything they have is on the shelves. And what is on the shelves changes depending on what they got with the last container load. There is no consistency. Grocery shopping is quite a challenge. Rule of thumb: you have to hit 5 - 6 different shops (which takes up a whole day) to get 60% of your shopping list done. Hoarding is common, if there is suddenly local butter (which costs a fraction of imported butter) then you better buy 10 pieces and stick them in the freezer. Same goes for chicken and sugar. Basically, if you suddenly see something you like (müsli / tortellini / frozen bacon), you better grab a bunch of it.

Other highlights of this mall are a spa (full 1h body massage for 12US$, not bad) and my gym (80US$ per month, and it is not very well maintained). There is an olympic length outdoor pool, which is unheated, which makes for very cold swimming in general 12-16˚C temperatures.

But back to shopping. There is a liquor store (the supermarket does not sell booze, nor pork) and a separate wine store. Several stands are selling cheap Chinese knock-off electronics, but unlike other 3rd world countries (Thailand) or in general ebay, here they ask for prices that are closer to the apple store original. There are some boutiques in which I have never seen customers, a toy store with cheap plastic fire hazards, a bowling alley with non-working computer counters. There used to be a restaurant, but that is currently undergoing some change.

Recently a fish store opened! Since Ethiopia is land-locked, seafood is hard to come by, most common is Nile Perch. But this place sells some imported stuff at crazy prices and rarely anyone buys it, which means when I check once a month, I keep seeing the same bags of stuff. All frozen of course, and with the power outages here I am rather reluctant to buy there.

Allegedly there is a movie theater in there somewhere, my guess is that it is ‘just’ some conference room turned into a screening room. I sometimes see movie posters of local productions and a time schedule, but everything is written in Amharic.

Some websites and guide books claim that there is free wi-fi, but this is only half true: There is a wi-fi signal and you can connect to it without the need of a password … but this router does not appear to be connected to the internet. I have tried on many occasions.

Overall the place looks pretty deserted most of the time. Only the supermarket can get a lot of traffic, especially on saturdays. They are working now on pretty-ing up the entrance / parking area. Parking can get very adventurous since on church holidays (and the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian church only has 280 of those per year) the traffic and parking for the church becomes and utter chaos.

Cassie, Aaron, Paul and Anna said thanks.

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Peter Nacken

Trailing spouse all over the world. Love writing, photography, good food (including cooking it myself), traveling, the interwebs ...

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