My trip with Laura to Ethiopia last March/April was a pretty amazing experience and so – even though it is quite behind the occurrence of actual events – I wanted to finally get it up here on the blog. I counted just now and realized that I have now visited 10 (luckily I didn’t need to go higher or I would have had to start using toes) of the 56 or so nations in Africa – and in this sample Ethiopia has been the one place that is the one of those things that is not like the others, the one that just doesn’t belong. I say that in a good way –it was just a very different culture and experience than the other countries in east and southern Africa I’ve visited and for that reason I still wanted to share with you a little of that trip here on the blog.
Ethiopia is a very proud country and makes the point to make it known that they are the only country in Africa to have never been fully colonized. They have a very unique history and one that I certainly didn’t know much about before visiting but if you are interested I found a relatively short but good summary here. What struck me most on this trip was not only how rich and varied the history of the country is but also how it is truly at the forefront of most attractions in the country. You really see the history everywhere you go and the Ethiopian people we met were always very proud of this heritage. Another cool part was that you could often very much interact with the history in Ethiopia. Whereby a 700 year old goat-skin bible might be in a museum behind glass and off-limits in some places (probably for good reason) – here you were given the book and could flip through and really experience it.
Tanzania on the other hand has very little pre-colonial period history that you can actually visit/touch/experience. You can visit a few archaeological sites or see the ancient overgrown ruins of a Swahili trading centre or mosque – but for the most part (perhaps with the exception of Stonetown, Zanzibar) there is very little remaining physical evidence of the thousands of years of life before the colonial period. Ethiopia, as you will see from the photos, didn’t require quite so much imagination to step back in time.
Anyways, this will be more of a lazy man’s blog post – heavy on the photos and light on the written word. But perhaps that is what makes a better ‘travel’ post anyways since my words sure aren’t going to get the idea across or make you start planning you next vacation to Addis Ababa. I’ve tried to select a cross-section of photos from the trip that show off different aspects of the history which we were lucky enough to have visited in our 12 days in the country.
The country also has some more recent history readily apparent in the capital of Addis Ababa. 1974 saw the overthrow of the monarchy system that had traditionally ruled Ethiopia and it’s famous “Rasta” symbol Emperor Haile Selassie through a military coup. The 1970’s and 80′s were marked the terribly violent rule of the communist “Derg” dictatorship and the famines which came to the world’s attention and still mark many peoples’ perceptions of the continent.
Ethiopia is also blessed with plenty of natural beauty as well – although quite different from the lush beauty we find in many parts of Tanzania it had its own charm (which shone through the dust occasionally).
I have previously discussed on this blog some of the stupid things I’ve done in the pursuit of a unique experience. The town of Harar in Eastern Ethiopia is famous for its Hyena Men – who go outside the ancient stone walls of the city each night and feed packs of wild hyenas which come down from the surrounding hills.
Naw, its not really all that stupid or dangerous – there must be hundreds of people who do it each year and I haven’t heard of any issues. But at the time you have that hyena running up and opening those bone-crushing jaws a foot away from your nose…well you have a few second thoughts…but by then its probably too late so you’d best just hold still and try not to look/smell too much like dinner.
If you are interested in seeing the full album of Ethiopia pics check out the Flickr album here.
Baadaye/Hasta la próxima/Until next time,