They  arrived last night and their Ethiopian group coordinators Kathy and Paul brought them from the Airport to the infamous Itegue Taitu Hotel, the oldest Hotel in Ethiopia. Some were a little shocked and others amused at the novelty of no running water after 9, unpredictable electricity and choice of menu. A pot of tea can be purchased at the Hotel restaurant for 3 Birr (20 cents) and a local Beer will set you back 6 Birr. They were quiet on the bus back from the Airport, taking in the smells and sounds of the capital city Addis Abeba. Everything here is obviously truly Ethiopian but you would expect to see an infringement of modern day globalisation on the capital, a glimpse of a DHL sign and an IVECO truck centre was all. No Starbucks, Tesco or Sprite. The foods, languages, cultures and inhabitants are a little more disconnected than the other African countries. It can be a little overwhelming and most digress back to comfort of the group who are well known to each other from their pre-trip fund raising ventures. The first settlers in Addis were the Oromo people whom now inhabit Narareth which will be visited next week. They named Addis Finfine meaning the “Hot Springs” and still refer to it as such, the out of place upmarket Hilton Addis catering for its neighbouring UN building markets their swimming pool as naturally hot spring heated. When the second Emperor Menelik II arrived, his wife Itegue Taitu bathed in the hot springs of Finfine and decided to rename Finfine Addis Abeba, the May Flower. Addis is named in her memory as she was the one who broke the Ethiopia treaty with Italy (the Amhaa Wochake) due to an article that stated any relation; business or diplomatic, to any other country must first come through Italy. She stated that Ethiopia is a sovereign country and there was no such demand in the Amharic version. A war ensued. The Adwaa war in 1897 lasted for a half a day, every Ethiopian grabbed whatever they could and stood to fight and Ethiopia was written in History as the “first country in black Africa to defeat European – ABBI Weekly”, the Ethiopians were said to have two weapons, spears and love of their country. I would like to read up on it more when I return but every Ethiopian will recall the same story and it is taught here in the schools. The night of the Adwaa war when Itegue Taitu declared a victory, a piece of land at the top of Menlik II Avenue was cleared for a hotel in her honour. The volunteers booked in under the evening showers which persisted until early morning.
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