I am always looking forward to any trip the minute my flight is booked and all is ready for me to go but the way I was excited about my trip to Ethiopia was just different. My siblings and I had been talking about it and the idea that for the first time in 5 years we were going to spend Christmas and New Years Eve all together with mama and papa was just magical to think about.
It was a direct flight from Toronto to Addis Ababa. Yep, you read right! 13hours no-stop! 0 layover, none! I had asked my friends on Twitter for tips to survive such long flights and one of them suggested sleeping pills, LOL! Has anyone tried this before? We landed at Bole International Airport around 7.30 in the morning and oh how I was glad to finally walk and breathe fresh air.
I didn’t think Addis was going to be like “any other city in Africa” and I am glad I didn’t. However, I had expectations about the city and I was right for some and totally wrong about some other things. So I am here to tell all about it and to avoid you some disappointments and surprises if you do travel to Ethiopia.
- Let’s start with the weather. This was one of the things I was right about. Addis can be so cold Y’all. Yes, even for someone living in Canada! Of course, it is nothing compared to the -30° but the temperature in Addis can drop to 0° at night in December. I was advised it was going to be chilly so I made sure I packed socks and one or two sweaters/hoodies.
- Ethiopians got melanin so dark. Here is where I need to make a confession. I didn’t think there were any dark-skinned Ethiopians out here. I know it might sound ignorant but I am sure I am not the only one to think this though. I was surprised to see very dark-skinned people in Addis -which is so beautiful, don’t get me wrong- and I remember asking if they were from Somalia or Sudan because I just didn’t expect a dark skin person to be Habesha. Excuse my ignorance again. To those who didn’t know either, you can thank me later.
- About the yummy food. I didn’t get to try much Ethiopian food but I did try Injera and Shuro which, if you follow me on Instagram, you have seen videos where I was talking about it. Injera is a very popular Ethiopian bread, similar to a crepe and made of teff flour. Shuro is a stew made of chickpeas and other vegetables and put on top of Injera. I found Injera a little too sour but Shuro was aight! However, I did try the Ethiopian coffee which is a huge part of the culture. If you’re not a big fan of raw coffee, you can try Macchiato which is still coffee but with milk in it.
- Jamming on the Ethiopian music. I did NOT expect to fall in love with their music as much as I did. First of all, during the 20 days, I stayed in Addis, I didn’t hear any songs in the street, radio, restaurants,…that is NOT from an Ethiopian artist. They play no Beyoncé, no Wizkid, no Angelique Kidjo, no Fally. That’s right! Be ready to enjoy all kinds of Ethiopian music while there and you’re going to love it, trust me. We spent our New Years Eve dancing on that music and it was one of our best NYE ever. I strongly believe my Eskista game is on point (Check out the list of my favorite songs below)
- The architecture and the churches will give you life. One thing that strikes the eye as you visit the streets of Addis is the buildings. Don’t expect them to be all fancy and clean because of development, construction and all but that’s what makes it so unique. Just look at those pictures!
- Oh, how the Amharic is so complex. Although they speak several languages in Ethiopia, Amharic is the most spoken in Addis Ababa. It is nothing similar to any other language we often hear. Ethiopians have their own alphabet which makes it even harder to learn the language. I learned several expressions though and I am now able to say Thank you! Good morning! Good night! I don’t speak Amharic! (check out my video of myself speaking in Amharic in my highlights here)
- Rastafarians will surprise you. Your home girl here used to think that half of the population in Ethiopia was Rastafarian. I thought 1 out of 2 Ethiopians I will meet was going to be rocking dreadlocks and jamming on some Bob Marley and I was so excited to get to know a little more about their culture. -WRONG (in that guy’s voice. You know who I’m referring to)-. Rastas are barely seen in Addis. You will have to go to Shashamane to meet them, I was told! 4 hours away from Addis.
This is an important disclaimer: Of all the nationalities I have come across, Ethiopians are the most polite and most welcoming. They will literally treat you like one of them. They will know you are a foreigner because you can’t speak Amharic but that won’t affect the way they talk to you and make you feel. I could write about Addis for days and tell you all about it being the origin of humanity or Lucy, the fossil found in Ethiopian sole over 4 million years ago, but this is a blog post and not an essay so I’m going to leave it here. Comment and tell me one thing you learned about Ethiopia by reading this and if yes or no, you will add this to your travel list (insert wink emoji)!
‘Til Next Time
all photo credit by yours truly (or my tour guide Fanta if I was in them)
My favorite Ethiopian Songs