Ethiopian Essentials

The national language is Amheric, but these days children learn English at school and are generally eager to practise their English language skills on visitors. Older people are much less likely to speak English

I found Ethiopians to be generally very friendly and genuine people. They, particularly schoolchildren, will start up a conversation with visitors with a cheery "Hello" or "Salaam" followed by "How are You?" For most this is showing a natural curiosity and practising their English. A minority will try to extract money, pens, clothing etc. or even financial sponsorship. I chose not to disappoint the former by prejudging them as the latter.

Ethiopian Food
This is typically of spicy meat or vegetable stews (known as wat) provided as side dishes with injera, a flat bread made from teff flour. Injera has the texture of thin foam rubber. One tears off a piece, scoops up some wat with it and eats it. Utensils are unnecessary.

I found in some hotels that WC cisterns took up to three hours to fill. Once flushed the mechanism might not seal and just leak water into the bowl making the flushing mechanism unusable. Sometimes a bucket and jug were provided - a self-flushing loo, you flush it yourself!

Hot Water
Typically only available in hotels between 7 am - 10 am and 6 pm - 10 pm.

Ethiopian Calendar
Also called the Geez Calendar it is based on the Coptic Calendar and is different from ours. At the time of my visit their current year was 2000 and they had begun their Millennium celebrations on 12th September, their New Year. Christmas Day falls on our 7th January.

Ethiopian Time
This is three hours ahead of GMT. There is a local time system based upon having one to twelve hours during the daytime and one to twelve during the night. Hence 7:00 am is one o'clock in the daytime in local time.

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