The non-profit that I work for held a meeting in Addis Ababa a few weeks ago and asked me to provide logistical support for the meeting. Which was scary because we have an awesome event planner who couldn’t attend and I had to TRY to fill her shoes. And it was awesome because I hadn’t been to Ethiopia before. So, I eagerly booked my tickets, packed my bags, and headed off to Ethiopia. I really didn’t know anything about Ethiopia, other than where it’s located and that they have awesome coffee – and that’s really the only information that I thought I needed to know before embarking on my trip.
One of my co-workers and I arrived several days before the rest of our group. Because of a national holiday, we had a day to do some exploring. Having done virtually no research about the country, we let the tour guide decide what our itinerary should be.
First, he took us to a series of crater lakes in nearby Debre Zeyit. There was a lovely resort there, called Kuriftu, where we had lunch lakeside. The scenery was pretty – but, at the end of the day, they were just a series of lakes.
So, we returned to Addis Ababa to see some of the city. Our first stop was the Ethiopian National Museum, which is best known (at least to us…) for housing Lucy, the skeletal remains of a woman thought to have lived over 3 million years ago. The museum had a great collection of fossils, creating a really interesting visual story of the history of prehistoric animals and humans. It was humbling to stand in front of a fossil that is 10 million years old. Wow.
We also learned some about Ethiopia. For example, it wasn’t colonized (although they had a brief occupation by the Italians, but I don’t think that was considered colonization.). They have an entirely different calendar and clock there (it was October 5, 2005 when I visited. And 4:00 pm our time is 10:00 am their time. It was most confusing). And, my favorite, they boast that coffee originated from their country. It grows wild there. And it truly was amazing coffee.
Our final stop was Mount Entoto, the highest peak in Addis, which is 3200 meters above sea level (…or, um, a bunch of feet…). The mountain is very steep – I was glad to be driving up it instead of walking! Our tour guide said that many of Ethiopia’s famous runners live and train on the mountain.
And, at the top, the panoramic views of the city were pretty breathtaking.
All in all, it was a lovely country, full of rich history and culture, with such nice people. I’m glad to have visited!