When I landed on October 8th I stepped into a time machine and went back 7 years to 2012. They do no use the Gregorian calendar like most of the world. The Ethiopian new year (Enkutatash) is celebrated on September 11 based on our Gregorian calendar, so I barely missed the transition from 2011 to 2012. In the instance of technology it literally felt like I went back in time. Credit cards were not widely accepted, so as a points and miles girl this drove me nuts. I need to be collecting points for my dollars spent. I was also baffled that I was sold a 3G SIM card when 4G cards are available. Who buys 3G SIM cards?!?!?!
Another cool fact about Ethiopia is that it is one of the two African countries that was never colonized by Europeans. Liberia is the other uncolonized African country. Emperor, Menelik II and his army defeated the Italians at the Battle of Adwa on March 1, 1896 and successfully defended their independence from European colonization. I felt the lack of colonization when it came to dining and grocery shopping. I unlike most people do not travel to try new foods. So I struggled with the fact that the only American restaurant on the ground in Addis Ababa was Pizza Hut and I was told they had recently opened in the last couple of months. They didn't even have a McDonalds. Everybody has a McDonalds! Granted I never eat McDonalds in the states, but it is one of my "safe" places abroad. The silver lining in the cloud is that Ethiopian food is DELICIOUS! I was in love with the beef and lamb wat (stew) wrapped up in their local injera (sourdough flatbread) with rice. Ummmm ummmm! They like beans and vegetables too, but y'all know I didn't eat those. Note Ethiopians love spice! I didn't realize they used spice so much, but everything had a kick to it. I had spaghetti at my hotel a few times and it was even spicy!
Coffee is also a large part of Ethiopian culture and cuisine, I declined invites for coffee more in 10 days than I have my whole life I think. I had to give up on my Ethiopia trip this time because I needed better connectivity and Addis Ababa was giving my respiratory system the blues. GEEZ pollution was bad! I did a day trip to Bishoftu and it was a welcome change to the city life, so I can't wait to go back and explore more of the countryside of Ethiopia.