Friday, September 21, 2012



HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: Spending the last day of the year with Zeme

BUMMER OF THE DAY: My last night in Addis Ababa


Happy New Year.
Today is the last day of the Ethiopian calendar.
The date is the 10th of September.
The year is 2004.

So how does that work?  The Ethiopian Calendar is 7 years behind the Georgian calendar, so when you come to visit the country you are 7 years younger and the Ethiopian Tourism Board claim 13 months of sunshine a year…..

The Ethiopian Calendar is based on the ancient Coptic calendar and still in use today. It includes twelve 30-day months and a 13th month of five days (six days in leap years).   So that makes the current year according to the Ethiopian calendar as 2004, which began on September 12, 2011AD of the Gregorian calendar.  Does that make sense?  So I was really born in 1967 and I am really 7 years younger than what I actually am!  I knew I would love this country.  But I guess that makes Zeme 7 years younger and those numbers don’t look healthy at all….. Oh well I guess you can’t have it both ways.  Me being 30 or Zeme being 18?  Hmmmmmm moving on……….

The Ethiopian clock is also different it still has 24 hours in a day, similar to it’s the western clock. However, Ethiopia has shifted their clock by six hours so that the clock rolls over at 6 am - the start of the day. This is an entirely sensible approach given Ethiopia is located near the equator and the sun comes up at the same time every day of the year. To convert between the Ethiopian and western clocks, simply subtract six hours.  So midday for the western time is actually 6pm Ethiopian time-okay that will take just a little getting used to.  Both on tour and on my second return Minalu and Zeme would give Ethiopian times and just at the end of my last trip I was starting to get the hang of it and I would tell Zeme the time based on the Ethiopian clock when he asked what the time was. 

The Ethiopian New Year, also known as Enkutatashnew year in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, while it is called Ri'se Awde Amet (Head Anniversary) in Ge'ez, the term preferred by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It occurs on September 11 in the Gregorian calendar, except for leap years, when it occurs on September 12. This date correspondence applies from the Gregorian years 1900 to 2099. Generally, because every fourth Ethiopian year is a leap year without exception, while Gregorian years divisible by 100 are not leap years, a set of corresponding dates will thus apply only for one century. However, because the Gregorian year 2000 is a leap year, then in this case the correspondences continue for two centuries.  Get it?

Do what did we have planned for New Year’s Eve.  Well I actually got ONE blog written and uploaded.  And I had to get all my gear together and start to pack this morning as I fly tomorrow and while I did that Zeme ran around and picked up the photos, bought some vodka for celebrations tonight and washed the 4WD that was filthy as from yesterday’s drive out of town.  I decided I could no longer carry a 27.5kg bag and instead of off-loading some clothes in Phuket to Shelly, for her to bring them to Australia, for me to bring them back to Ethiopia in January made no sense what so ever.  So I will leave the clothes and the things I don’t need/use with Zeme and he can look after them till my return.  I was happy with my cull and I hope that it has made a difference to the weight of my bag.  Firstly I will have Jetstar Asia to deal with if I have too much weight, as you pay for your luggage with them anyways and I had only purchased 20kg and secondly when I get to Sri Lanka we are using public transport for some of the legs we are doing and I just CANNOT be carrying a 27kg bag-I think it will kill me…… and I will look like a loser with such a big bag.  I may even be able to zip up my extender section of my bag that was let out before I even left Australia.  Loser…… I should know better.  But I have off loaded now, so it will be interesting to see how much the monster weighs tomorrow.  I also got some washing done and they picked it up at 10am and I had it back at 3pm.  Now that is a fast wash and the total cost for like 20 pieces was 3AUD.   

So that took the morning up and then Zeme was back at lunch time.  Ethiopians don’t celebrate New Year’s Eve like we do.  There are functions that are held and they do have fireworks and a concert most years but their Prime Minister died a few weeks ago in Belgium and his funeral was on Sunday, so the country is still in a state of morning and a lot of things have been cancelled this year.  Music shops are still not allowed to play music from their massive speakers and there is a TV channel dedicated just to him, interviews, pictures etc.  24 hours a day.  Meles Zenawi was a loved man here, especially with the farmers and this was another reason for us to stay out of the city as there could be some political unrest in regards to the selection of the new Prime Minister.

So we decided to stay in for the night and just spend what last hours we had together, rather than raging around on the town and this suited me fine.  Chombe was at a function, Minalu had gone home for the week and Lemma was with his family-so it all worked out in the end and over some vodka’s, some text messages and phone calls from Zeme’s friends as we said goodbye to 2004 and welcomed in 2005. It is pretty cool I am actually here for the last day of one year and here for the first day of the next year, in September.    

So HAPPY NEW YEARS EVE.... Good-bye 2004 and Hello 2005.  I was just happy to be here to celebrate this with Zeme and may it be a new year blessed with love, compassion, consideration and new beginnings.  It was nice to go to sleep in the arms of someone who loves me unconditionally.  Bliss……

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