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Ethiopia

Khat: the legal high of East Africa

Khat: the legal high of East Africa East Africa is addicted to leaves. Khat (also pronounced "chat" or "qat") is a leafy shrub found in the mountainous areas of East Africa. It's a major cash crop for Ethiopia and a popular high in the whole region. For the Somalis, as well as the Hararis in Ethiopia, it's...

Somaliland adventure: getting to nowhere

Somaliland adventure: getting to nowhere One of the tempting things about travel in Ethiopia is the proximity to other nations offering a variety of different experiences. I decided that my two-month trip would include a side trip to Somaliland. The first reaction most people have when I say I've been to...

Some thoughts on travel in Ethiopia

Some thoughts on travel in Ethiopia One evening I was walking near my home in Madrid and in front of me there was a group of people discussing where they should go to dinner. They were just passing Mesob, the only Ethiopian restaurant in Madrid. One of them said, "Look, Ethiopian food!" and they all started...

Exploring Harar, a medieval city in Ethiopia

Exploring Harar, a medieval city in Ethiopia In my last post I wrote about how Harar is an alluring walled city that made me throw away my travel plans and stay for three weeks. A serene atmosphere and an ever-widening circle of knowledgeable, hospitable acquaintances were what kept me there, but what is there to...

Harar: Ethiopia's medieval masterpiece

Harar: Ethiopia's medieval masterpiece If you're lucky, every now and then when you're on the road you'll come to a place where a little voice will say, "Stop here. This is what you were looking for." You'll have other plans, a nice neat schedule you made up in your head of what you wanted to see in the time you...

Addis Ababa: Ethiopia's new flower

Addis Ababa: Ethiopia's new flower When I talk to NGO workers who have worked all over Africa, most say their favorite posting was Addis Ababa. Ethiopia's capital is a young city, founded by the Empress Itegue Taitu in the late nineteenth century. She named it the "new flower", and while the pollution and...

Lalibela: Ethiopia's ancient jewel

Lalibela: Ethiopia's ancient jewel For an agnostic I've certainly been to a lot of holy places. I've always been skeptical of received wisdom, and fascinated that so many people dedicate their lives to a deity they can't see, can't prove exists, and who has left them in the lurch on more than one occasion....

Boozing it up in Ethiopia

Boozing it up in Ethiopia My first impression of Ethiopia was that the Ethiopians are a lot like us, and by us I mean Mediterranean Europeans. One of the ways they're similar to us is they like to have a drink every now and then, but don't make a habit of drinking to excess. For the cross-cultural...

Twelve random observations about Ethiopia

Twelve random observations about Ethiopia For the past couple of weeks I've been posting a series of articles about travel in Ethiopia. I'm about halfway through but I have some observations that don't fit into anywhere but would be of interest to people considering a trip there. So here are a dozen facts about one...

Climbing Ethiopia's clifftop monastery

Climbing Ethiopia's clifftop monastery While visiting the ancient capital of Axum is one of the highlights of any trip to Ethiopia, you can't see its most famous relic--the Ark of the Covenant, reputed to be kept in a special building behind the Cathedral of Tsion Maryam. Only a lone caretaker is allowed entry...

Trade Mocked

Trade Mocked You were a cheerleader, you dated a cheerleader, or you hated the cheerleaders. As I recall, that's how high school worked. Thanks to travel PR, that same primeval paradigm lives on long after graduation. That miniskirts-shouting-slogans thing still works, whether you're...

Ethiopia's northern borderlands: Tigray and its ancient civilization

Ethiopia's northern borderlands: Tigray and its ancient civilization Driving north out of Ethiopia's Amhara region into the borderland province of Tigray, the landscape becomes rockier and drier. The mountains rise higher and are more frequent, and at times sheer cliffs loom above the road. This is a harsh land with a harsh history. The...

A Glimmer of Hope for Children in Ethiopia

A Glimmer of Hope for Children in Ethiopia One thing you notice right away in Ethiopia is the children. Everywhere you drive they're by the side of the road, smiling and waving. Whether you're on a newly paved highway or a rutted, back country dirt track, the kids love seeing foreigners and wave at each one. One...

Gondar: Ethiopia's Camelot

Gondar: Ethiopia's Camelot The road north from Lake Tana, Ethiopia, gradually ascends into the mountains. The landscape grows greener and the farms look richer here. The combination of rough mountains and good farmland made it an obvious place for a capital city, and for many years it was. Gondar...

Medieval monasteries on Lake Tana, Ethiopia

Medieval monasteries on Lake Tana, Ethiopia The Christian communities of Ethiopia have an eye for dramatic settings. From the sweeping views of Debre Libanos to the many monasteries perched atop sheer cliffs, the surroundings of a holy place are often as beautiful as the place itself. It makes sense from a...

Road trip: Ethiopia

Road trip: Ethiopia Ethiopia is like the United States--it's best seen on a long road trip. The easiest way to see Ethiopia's beautiful landscape and ancient monuments is to hire a driver and vehicle in the capital Addis Ababa. My wife and I picked Abey Roads based on a personal...

First impressions of Ethiopia

First impressions of Ethiopia They say first impressions are lasting impressions, and while that's a cliché, strong first impressions of a country can tell you a lot. I've been in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, for four days now. My wife has just joined me and I'm treating her to a...

Travel Read: Culture Smart! Ethiopia

Travel Read: Culture Smart! Ethiopia I'm headed to Ethiopia soon and I'm busy reading everything I can get my hands on about the country. Thus I eagerly picked up a copy of Culture Smart! Ethiopia. The Culture Smart! series offers insights into the customs and cultures of dozens of different countries. As a...

"Obama Effect" helps African tourism

Last year was a bad year for travel in most places, but a continent that has generally been overlooked by the majority of travelers is seeing boom times--Africa. Africa is the only continent to see a rise in tourism last year, up 5 percent when most other places felt the...

Are fold-out maps obsolete? Not if you want to understand your destination

Are fold-out maps obsolete? Not if you want to understand your destination Is the age of opening up a map to figure out where you are a thing of the past? According to a recent post on Bad Latitude, they're one of ten travel items that are now obsolete. There's no doubt that technology such as Google Maps and GPS have advantages over...

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