More than I expected, Ethiopia is green, beautiful, chilly, and the food is great. Like Thai food, they use a lot of peppers and have a spicy taste. You eat with your hands and everyone eats off the same large plate.
Because there is a different calendar system here, it just became the millennium (year 2000). Like Tanzania, they also have two ways of telling time – the one that I am used to, and also the one where with the sunrise it is 0 o’clock, then after one hour it is 1 o’clock, etc. (Does anyone else know of other calendar systems or ways to tell time?)
There about 45 languages spoken here (the main language being Amharic) and the economic developments seem fairly stable in Addis Ababa with a lot of roads and buildings under construction. The hard thing is that for the first time in living memory, prices on most everything have gone up by 3 to 4 times in the last few years, without hardly any increase in salary.
The African Union is headquartered here, and because it is perhaps the only country which was never colonized, it has a lot of the traditional African culture that has been lost or morphed elsewhere.
Since I was so close, I decided to come visit one of the PhD students that I supervise, Temtim Assefa. He is the chair of the department of ICT Education at Addis Ababa University, and has been an excellent host.
And Temtim tells me that people get Ethiopia all wrong – by thinking everyone here is starving. He says that in a country with 70 million people it is “only” about 5 million who are starving.
The land and the people are as visually rich as is the food, but here are just a few pictures from the last couple days…