I am excited about the possibility that I will be shooting in Ethiopia for two weeks this January. Ethiopia has a strong place in my mind and heart where Africa is concerned. It is the first encounter I ever had with famine and international aid. I was old enough to understand what was going on, young enough to think Band Aid was cool and spend months walking around singing “Feed the WOOOOOooorld” to myself. When I think about poverty and famine, this is where my mind goes. Ethiopia.
But Ethiopia is so much more. A country twice the size of France, it has a diverse geography, an amazing diversity of smaller people groups (small groups, not small people), and an ancient culture. At this point I have made an itinerary that includes a couple days each in Addis Ababa, Harar, Gonder, Lalibela, and Aksum. Addis the the capital, bustling, colourful, noisy. Harar is an old walled muslim city, a highlight includes the feeding of the hyenas. Gonder is replete with castles and churches. Lalibela is like the Petra of Ethiopia. Aksum is a famed ancient city, cited in one guide book as “undoubtedly one of the most important and spectacular ancient sites in sub-Saharan Africa.”
We plan to be in Lalibela for Leddet, the Orthodox Christmas.
I was in Wanderlust (Vancouver’s best travel store! Staffed by awesome folks and always interesting) yesterday morning (and then La Petite France for Caffe au Lait and a pain au chocolate – the best I have ever had.) The owner was in and rang my guide book through for me. When he saw I was going to Ethiopia he told me he’d recently had four travel professionals in, people who lead tours and so on. He asked them what their favourite country in the entire world was, and said they all answered simulatneously, “Ethiopia.” Cool.
I am most looking forward to seeing how this country is recovering. It’s had a tough, tough, history over the last two hundred years. Amazing that anyone is still alive there and that the soil isn’t red for the blood shed on that ground.
If anyone knows anything about Ethiopia, has visited or still lives there, please get in touch. We’d love all the info we can get and it would be so great to connect with an ex-pat who knows some of the ropes.