Posts Tagged history

Ethiopia 101: Your Brief Photographic History Lesson

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,

Dan

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The Portuguese have left the building…A Photo Tour of Ilha’s Ibo & Mocambique

Hello again world,

In my earlier post on the Mozambique travels last week, I promised a follow-up on the second half of the trip down to Mozambique. Don’t say I never deliver the goods. This week – I proudly present Part II – Ladies & Gentlemen, the Portuguese have left the building…

A very Wiki History lesson to set the stage

An abbreviated and inadequate history: Mozambique was colonized by the Portuguese empire in 1505. They stuck around for several hundred years and built up colony with an impressive resource-based trading empire. Fast forward to 1975 when the Portuguese decided to pack up and leave after a war for independence and regime change back home. Upon independence on June 25, 1975 – a good riddance law was passed by the new government ordering all Portuguese to leave the country in 24 hours with only 20 kilograms of luggage! I guess lesson is always travel light – you never know. Mix that misguided policy  in with  the economic decline of these indian ocean trading companies and associated government in the early 20th century et voilà  - you have yourself the makings some very eery but fascinating ghost towns.

Needless to say, these places make for some amazing photography sets and I had a field day on this trip as everywhere you turned there were a hundred beautiful and very unique photos waiting to be made. Here’s some highlights – enjoy!

A Photo Tour of spooky Ilha do Ibo

We first visited the more remote and less known Ilha do Ibo in the Quirimbas National Marine Park. Wasn’t on the original itinerary but once we read about it we had to move plans around to make it happen. Easily my favorite spot on the whole trip and one of the most fascinating places I have ever visited in this life of mine.

I could show a hundred more from this place but must show some restraint!

Tired of photos already? Too bad – It’s Ilha de Mocambique’s time to shine

The second of these amazing historic places we visited and spent New Year’s was the somewhat more famous, a bit less abandoned, a lot more touristy, former capital of Portuguese East Africa - Ilha de Mocambique:

As mentioned in the last post – all these photos and more are available for your viewing pleasure in Flickr Set that might just make you drop what your doing and buy a ticket to Mozambique – right here after the link.

Catch you on the flip side

Up next – headed to Ethiopia at the end of March for an exciting 11 days of travel goodness in Northern Ethiopia and around Addis Ababa. Very excited for this trip – should be something very different culturally and geographically speaking than the travels made around Tanzania, Northern Mozambique, and Kenya so far this year.  Plus, as a true fan of delicious food served in large quantities…I’m excited for the prospect of being surrounded by Ethiopian food!

After that – end of April will bring a 5 day Easter weekend trip with friends to the city of Kigoma and the Gombe Stream National Park on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the western edge of Tanzania. Gombe Stream was made famous by a certain Ms. Jane Goodall back-in-the-day and her research on primates in this remote area. The park offers the opportunity to hike up into the mountains and (hopefully) observe the chimpanzee troops in their non-zoo habitat. But besides this, I’ve heard it’s an amazingly beautiful place, great hiking, and offers a chance to visit and swim (Bilharzia be damned) in Lake Tanganyika - the remaining on the list of Africa’s 3 main Great Lakes after trips to Lake Victoria and Lake Malawi last year. Lake Tanganyika, unlike me at my grade 6 track and field meets, has a number of impressive non-participation ribbons including: world’s longest lake, world’s second deepest lake, world’s second largest body of fresh water, and offers nice views into the neighboring DR Congo across the lake. Advanced warning of possible obnoxious future facebook status update: Dan Albrecht is…peeing while swimming in Lake Tanganyika and looking into THE DARK HEART OF AFRICA!!!

Given my track record with this post – you can expect to see a blog post and photos of these trips sometime in June…2012

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