The moon is close to the earth now anyway, but this close to the equator, it is spectacular. When it rose this evening, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a huge moon. Sadly, I did not get to my camera until nearly 10:00. But still. Clear African sky and silver bright full moon…. doesn’t get much better.
Archive for the ‘Ethiopia’ Category
In between working, I am very much enjoying the marvelous gardens around the Ghion hotel. The grounds used to part of the palace and a good 10 acres of gardens remain as part of the hotel. It is centering to walk the grounds at the end of a difficult day.
In addition to soothing the soul, the gardens provide diverse habitat for all kinds of birds. The most dramatic I’ve seen was an African Paradise Flycatcher with a bright blue beak and a white tail at least 18 inches long rippling behind him.
The gardens are also filled with mouse birds. They seem to eat fruit, so I was puzzled by the name until I saw a flock of them in the grass fly up to a tree when I approached. They looked all the world like flying mice.
I know I am here for work and have just been writing about the gardens and after work things. I need to do a post on the substance of this trip. Maybe next week!
The nicest part of the Ghion Hotel is the beautiful garden. We are backed up against the palace and the grounds used to be part of it. A mature and impressive garden remains. I imagine there are 10 acres or more. Every weekend, the Ghion Garden is THE place for couples to have their wedding pictures taken. At least fifty wedding parties come every day of the weekend during the dry season, each with an entourage of attendants, grandparents, little kids in their best clothes running around and being chased by adults who want them to keep their clothes clean. They also bring musicians and everyone sings. It is a very raucous celebration and big fun to watch every weekend.
So, last night we landed on time and moved through immigration and customs easily. It is a long trip; 21 hours in the air plus layovers. As we were standing around and waiting for luggage, Tom (my colleague) said “Can’t you feel everything slowing down?” The relaxed pace and deep calm of Africa is something that I have learned to love and respect and you can indeed feel it once the earth is under your feet again.
It feels like time travel to be back here so soon and I’m enjoying both the familiarity and the newness. It has rained a little overnight so everything is fresh, bougainvillea is blooming, birds are singing, traffic is rolling as people head to work and life is good. I can’t wait to get to work myself.
Even though the work we did in Ethiopia this fall was truly difficult, I’m excited about going back. We will be returning in late January and I honestly think this second session is going to be a lot of fun. We have completed our sessions with the big telco and will now be working with regulators – which is where change for the better will originate. So, we have a chance for more impact which is exciting, plus we have a great group of professionals joining us. That is always fun. Finally, Ethiopia really grew on me and I’m excited about returning and getting better acquainted with the ancients (everything there seems eternal to me).
Muya means talent in Ethiopia’s ancient ecclesiastical language, Ge’ez. Likewise Sara Abera’s amazing workshop, Muya, in Addis Ababa is aptly named. My friend and colleague Yelam took me to visit Sara’s shop over a weekend and seriously impressed and inspired me. Ethiopia is a treasure of craft and culture. Sara Abera has worked hard, not only to make that culture available for the world to see, but to promote a sustainable business model that treats talented crafts people with dignity and respect. Starting with only about $14 USD, Muya is now a world renown design shop and the first business in Ethiopia to receive the coveted Fair Trade seal of approval.
I passed the best afternoon at Muya along with Yelam and my American colleague Laura. It was a marvel to see so many sophisticated designs, delicate and flawless craftsmanship and clean and pleasant work places for the crafts people. The grounds have a garden for peaceful meditation and inspiration along with a super clean and pretty cafeteria ensuring everyone has a nutritious meal as they work. In addition to buying some extraordinary beautiful textiles, I loved being able to see talented craftspeople working at hand made looms and sharing a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony with Yelam and Sara in the lobby of the shop. If you visit Addis, Muya is a must stop. Bring cash so you can support this remarkable business and own some great art at the same time.
After all of the work that we did, it was very sad for me to miss our closing events and to wish everyone well because I was so sick on that last Saturday. I’m posting a picture of most of the group even though I was not there to witness it. There were three ladies in the class and only one is in this picture. I don’t know the whole story on that. One of the women was responsible for women’s issues within the company including training for all employees and mentorship programs. There is clearly a value for the skills and contributions of women and I’m hoping her efforts pay dividends later. Overall, the ETC is staffed by a smart group of hard working and bright people doing a very difficult job. I wish them well and am hopeful that they can improve services in a way that benefits the people of Ethiopia.