Before I got distracted by my love affair with the Kenyan giraffes, I think I left off in early April, when I met Juliet in Nairobi. She was in Nairobi for work, and I met her there so that we could organize a trip to Ethiopia, which we had been talking about for months but never actually gotten around to planning. As it turned out, we did not get much planning done in Nairobi — Juliet had to work during the day, I “had to” wander around to assorted shops and restaurants during the day, and we had dinner plans with Juliet’s friends in Nairobi at night. But Juliet bought us each a round-trip ticket from Nairobi to Addis Ababa, I bought us an Ethiopia guidebook, and off we went. Luckily, we had plenty of time to read the guidebook and start planning the trip during our six-hour flight delay (how’s that for a silver lining?).
This is some of the fun Ethiopia trivia that we learned while sitting on the floor at the gate in Jomo Kenyatta airport, receiving no information whatsoever about the delayed flight (as seems to be the custom in East African airports):
The Ethiopian calendar has thirteen months — twelve 30-day months and one 5- or 6-day month (depending on whether it’s a leap year). That’s why Ethiopia’s tourism tagline is “Thirteen Months of Sunshine” (which, for the record, is not exactly accurate — while the weather was beautiful for most of our trip, there were a few rainy evenings).
In Ethiopia, the year is currently 2004, because the Ethiopian church uses a different calculation of the incarnation of Jesus.
Ethiopians (like some other East Africans) measure time as if 6:00 am is midnight and 6:00 pm is noon. So they’ll say, for example, “let’s meet for lunch at 7 o’clock,” and then when you look confused, they’ll say, “1 o’clock your time.”
Ethiopia is the only African country that was never colonized (although it was very briefly occupied by Italy in the mid-1900s).
More importantly, we also learned that with two weeks to spend in Ethiopia, we should plan to visit four sites outside of Addis: Bahir Dar, Gondar, Axum, and Lalibela. Once we got to Addis, it was surprisingly simple to buy a combination of bus and plane tickets to get us around to these four destinations and then back to Addis.
I think that’s enough of an intro to Ethiopia — I’m working on paring down my photos to a manageable number, and then will post soon with more details about each place that we went.