Aug 242010

So, it’s nearly time for me to go home.  I’m on the midnight plane from Bole airport tonight, and arriving back in London in time for breakfast tomorrow.  It hardly seems like a month since I got here. I spent a good two days after my last post from Harar.  On Saturday I mostly slept, to recover from my chat-induced insomnia, and then on waking, walked around the market with a couple of French giants (I exaggerate not – 2m5cm and 2m10cm, or 6’8″ and 6’10”), who met each other in Lalibela and have been travelling around Ethiopia together, scaring the living crap out of small children.  On the minibus from Harar on Read full post >>

Aug 192010

Today Richard and I went up to Mount Entoto – the first part of Addis to be built by Emperor Menelik and his wife Taitu in the 1880s.  It’s a nature reserve of sorts, with beautiful views out over Addis, and is covered with eucalyptus trees, which were introduced under Menelik because they grew fast enough to satisfy the demand for firewood.  The story goes that Menelik travelled to Australia, saw eucalyptus seeds, stored them in his afro, and then when he brushed his hand through his hair back in Shewa, the Entoto forest sprang up.  I’ve read that Menelik never actually left Ethiopia, and that his Swiss adviser Alfred Read full post >>

Aug 162010

Yesterday I took a taxi to Churchill Avenue, near the oldest district of Addis (which was only built in the 1880s) and had a long walk back to Bole Road. On Churchill Avenue there are lots of shops selling Ethiopian handicrafts, many of which are beautiful, but where the owners come and hassle you with no respite. This kind of thing makes me very unlikely to buy anything. There were also some amusingly tacky and weird gifts, including keyrings with a photo of Ethiopia’s PM, Meles Zenawi and the caption “Long Life”, and T-shirts with pictures of Tewodros II, the emperor who was in fact a bit of a tyrant, Read full post >>

Aug 152010

Getting back to Addis after such a wonderful trip up in Tigray isdifficult, because I am now back to the irritating realities ofjobhunting with a bump. Searching for work is never a task I enjoy muchat the best of times, and if I am interested in development work, wherethe breaks are hard to find and the contracts tend to be short, it issomething that I had better get used to, and better at. It is doublydifficult because of the limited time that is left to me in Ethiopia (11days!) and therefore the hard choices about where to focus that need tobe made. I went to an interview straight after getting Read full post >>

Aug 032010
Why I love Addis Ababa

Tuesday 3 August, 6pm *cursing the fact I didn’t have my camera with me today* 1. Today is the 27th of the month in the Ethiopian calendar.  The 27th of each of the first 12 months of the year (the 13th has only 5 days, or six in a leap year) is a religious festival.  Walking down Bole Tele on my way to the British International School this morning I went past Medhane Alem Cathedral.  The first sign that something unusual was going on was the enormous number of people, mostly women, wearing gabbis.  These are the coarse-woven white cotton shawls that feature on many photos of religious sites like Read full post >>

Jul 302010

The Ethiopian National Museum, which I ducked into to during an intense rainstorm this morning, is full of reminders of this country’s remarkable history and prehistory.  Ethiopia’s Afar Depression is where ‘Lucy’ (the earliest known relatively complete skeleton of an upright-walking hominid) was found in 1974.  The skeleton is now on display here, along with other treasures from Ethiopia’s rich archaeological deposits.  Ethiopians are very proud of the fact that their country seems to have been the cradle of our earliest ancestors, and the staggering human genetic diversity here (the highest in the world, an anthropologist friend once told me) is written on the faces of Addis Ababa’s people.  Binyam, my guide Read full post >>