5:30 a.m. and still dark. But the rooster knows the sun is coming and his crow trills up past the sulfurous street lamps into the still night sky.
He’s woken the dogs, and suddenly their frantic howling seems to come from the top of every hill in Addis, making the city seem surrounded by their feral packs.
The sharp barks are soon undercut by the rising moan of the muezzin. He sings the same words that have woken me around the world, but his melody here is unique, more of a monotonous chanting than the sung declaration I’ve heard before.
As his prayer fades, the city seems to fall back into a quiet repose — one last nap before the night drops away completely. And just as my eyelids flutter down again, too, a church bell clangs excitedly into the chilly blackness. Long and joyous, it dies only as it’s passionately competed with by the mosque’s wail.
A car passes. A low beat pulses from a distant radio or TV, and a voice in the slum on the river below us begins to sing through the thick blue smoke of garbage fires.
The sun is still a few degrees of rotation away — we are on the edge of the equator and here, at the middle of the planet, the sun seems to rise in a moment. But though the city still waits for the first wash of cold golden light across its streets, morning is here.