Before you go
- What to bring
- Guide books
- When you arrive
- Things to do
Traveling within Ethiopia
- Other important information
Before you go:
Visas: You will need a
visa prior to traveling to Ethiopia,
which can be obtained from the Ethiopian embassy in Ottawa and costs approximately $80.oo. The
application can be downloaded from their website at www.ethiopia.ottawa.on.ca.
You also need a passport photo with the application. We usually get our tickets from World Wide
Travel, an Ethiopia travel
agency in Toronto and they will send off your
passport, photograph and application form and fee to the Embassy if you request
this service. Check your passport is
valid for at least 6 months, or renew well in advance of departure and then
apply for the visa.
Ticket reimbursement: Staff and
resident flight ticket reimbursement can be processed on return through Eva
Wong at her CAMH Clarke site office. You will need to retain ticket stubs and
boarding passes for this purpose.
Airlines: Ethiopian Airways is a reliable
airline, and it gives you a chance to absorb some of the atmosphere and
language before you arrive. The announcements are in Amharic and most of
the passengers are Ethiopians. The big advantage in choosing this airline
is the intra Ethiopian flight discounts to the ‘historic’ sights, e.g., Gonder,
Lalibella. More information below under
‘When you arrive’. However to fly on
Ethiopian Airways we either have to fly first to Washington DC or Europe, so we
frequently use other carriers such as KLM or Lufthansa, or change to Ethiopian
Airways once in Europe.
Immunizations: Book an
appointment at a travel clinic, many have used The Travel Clinic at123 Edward St (Drs. Keystone, Kain et al),
416- 730-5700. www.medisys.ca/travel and the nurse practitioner provides a consultation
and gives you scripts and shots. The
consultation costs about 50$ and the shots are extra. Usually meningitis and hepatitis A/B are
required. MMR, tetanus and polio may need to be updated depending on the date
of your last immunization. Bring your
immunization record with you to Addis – Yellow Fever is mandatory and you need
proof that you have been immunized. You
can buy an HIV/AIDS kit at the travel clinic for about 35$ which has IV tubing,
syringes, needles, and latex gloves for use in case of an emergency
diarrhea (which provides little coverage and is expensive) and cholera are
optional and usually not necessary.
Prophylaxis: Addis Ababa is not an endemic
area, but you will need prophylaxis if you travel outside of the city. Malarone
is one of the newer options.
Melatonin (click here for the Cochrane
report) may be used to prevent jetlag.
Money: Bring cash
with you, in U.S. dollars. Traveler’s cheques can be cashed but credit cards
cannot be used except in large western hotels which do not exist outside Addis.
The most reliable rate of exchange is available for U.S. dollars. It
is impossible to get money into the country if you run out while you are there.
Although in an emergency you can eat at the Hilton and Sheraton on a credit
card! Probably 1500-2000US$ in cash and travelers cheques for one month
would be more than adequate for one person, and provides a safety cushion for
possible emergencies – it depends on the week-end trips (Ethiopian Airways also
takes credit cards) you want to make and the trinkets you buy. Accommodation in
Addis is paid for by our Ethiopian hosts. The cost of living is very reasonable
compared to Canada,
although prices of taxis are increased for westerners. Western food is
available in some grocery shops if you search (there is one on Churchill Road
on the East side opposite the French Lysee, which is close to the bottom of Churchill
below the roundabout, Bambis supermarket is excellent and so is the supermarket
at the Hilton) but it is more expensive. However, when nothing else but
peanut butter and jam will do, a cross Addis search for tinned and canned
Western food can be fun!
Personal Care: We recommend bringing a basic medical travel kit,
with at least mosquito repellant (DEEP), Gravol, Pepto Bismol, and Immodium. Small first aid kits are useful with sutures
(Mountain co-op sell them) a thermometer, Tylenol plain, cold medications, Tums
for indigestion, cortisone 1% for sunburn, sunblock, Gentian violet or Iodine
for small skin infections – Polysporin
is usually too much of an invitation to more bugs. If you have had asthma Addis air is quite
polluted so bring a puffer. Some
recommend ear plugs for the calls to prayers and barking dogs in the night.
Sleeping pills e.g. Imovane or Trazidone are helpful for the first night or so.
Ciprofloxacin is useful for most traveler’s diarrhea, usually if it
persists for 3 days and is bloody or contains pus. A brief diarrhea
illness is not uncommon in the course of a month and although it can be quite
acute it usually settles in a day or two. Also useful are a disinfectant like
alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, for cuts, elastoplast, flashlight, and a unisize
sink stopper for week-end trips. We would also suggest bringing plenty of
sunblock, moisturizer and lip balm, as Addis is often low in humidity,
depending on when you travel. March/April is the time of little rains and the
humidity is higher then. Small packets of tissues are handy as portable
supplies of toilet paper; street children sell these packs so you can buy them
in Addis easily. Bring some alcohol gel (Purell), in several little jars to put in your pocket and use
discreetly often (they make good gifts too) - never put your hands near your
face till washed and Purelled. No salads, peeled fresh fruit, raw veg etc
anywhere or anytime - if you buy fruit to eat use surgical technique and
liberal quantities of Purell to ensure no bugs get in your mouth. Toilets rarely come with plastic seats for women
including the hospitals where we teach, and never have TP. Seasoned
travelers know a square cotton scarf is useful to have in your pocket if need a
toilet when the smell is pretty bad. Tying the scarf round your face like
a cowboy can really help. If you have pierced ears and they are
occasionally inflamed, it might be wise to wear small gold posts or keepers and
don’t take them out for the duration of your stay. It is easy to
introduce infection into your pierced ear tracks and it is a nuisance and
sometimes difficult to get rid of.
Insects are not a problem except for fleas and flies and can be a
nuisance. Bed bugs live in wood, so if you travel and stay in a cheap
hotel with wooden beds you might meet one! Head lice are common
especially if you play with or pick up the children – you know you have them
because your hair line at the top of your neck gets very itchy just before you
sleep – you can de louse easily with cheap products from any pharmacy there.
Hot tip! Bring a bar of your most favorite soap as a special luxury. Or some of your favorite foods - like muesli, raisins, almonds, trail mix,
granola bars, chocolate, twizzlers etc – all of which is difficult to find in
Addis. Nutella and peanut butter are
good to bring too. Otherwise there is lots of local food if you want to self
cater – milk, pasta, meat, bread, lentils, fruit and vegetables etc
Clothing: The temperature in
Addis Ababa varies little throughout the year, staying in the low 20s during
the day, and dropping to 7-10C at night. The rainy season is between June
and September when we don’t usually have a teaching trip - it is harder to get
around and it tends to be muddy. The cool evenings make light and
medium-heavy sweaters and light jackets or a woolen shawl for women necessary
after sunset at 6pm. It is always hard
to remember that Addis is a cool place so layering is good - tshirt, shirt,
sweater over the lot etc... so you can strip off if you are walking in the sun.
Bedsocks and warm PJs are necessary.
Depending on where you travel (or which hotel you visit for lunch on
Saturday!) a swimsuit is also a good idea as are sunglasses and a hat.
Our Ethiopian counterparts are rather more formally dressed at work than
we are in Canada
and wear crisp white coats over their clothes.
Our male faculty usually wear a suit, or dress pants and a jacket and
tie. Some of the faculty men who come out to Addis have
never even worn a tie for their wedding...our male Ethiopian colleagues all
wear ties and you'll feel more comfortable in one at least for the first week
and on formal occasions. Women can wear
tailored pants or a gathered or stretchy skirt but beware of straight skirts
for all is revealed when you hitch it up for the huge step up into the
all-terrain vehicle, which we do several times a day! No low tops, top of arms covered, knees
covered. No sneakers to teach in
otherwise they are great - women cant wear heels, walking surfaces are way too
rough. Neither men nor women are advised
to wear sandals because there are too many parasites in the dust. Flip-flops however are extremely useful
however to wear at home in our bungalow between bathroom and bedroom.
What to Bring:
A good supply of books, cards, games, ipod etc. DVD’s to watch on your laptop…for
quiet evenings. The nearest DVD rental
is just west of the Insa
College on the main road,
2 storefronts past the first road. But
it is easier to bring your own supply.
Each group will
need to bring at least one laptop and an electrical converter may not be necessary (Ethiopian voltage is 220; check your computer's power supply), however a plug
adapter is necessary and easily obtained in any luggage store in Canada
including the airport. If you bring a
hairdryer you will need a converter.
There is one available and currently works.
Bring a flashlight
– preferably one on a head band – sold at Mountain Co-op – so you can continue
to eat if the lights go out at dinner time.
A back pack, it is useful as hand luggage and comes in useful for you
week-end trips outside Addis. However
you usually need a smaller bag for daily use – big enough to carry everything
you might need for work and dinner (including a sweater) but smaller than a back
Wet wipes are
useful too to ‘wash’ your face and hands while traveling. Ziplock bags are ideal to put things in so
use them when packing - they keep ants out and things fresh, also bring rubber
bands, bulldog clips etc - stationary
like that is not easily available although you can buy exercise books and
typing paper here. Plastic bags are also very useful and precious - so wrap
stuff in them in your suit case and you'll have some here - for dirty laundry,
Bring a small gift
for the residents to give when your month is complete - a little Canadian flag
pin, better still a Canadian and Ethiopian flag pin (buy on Spadina South of
College street) - a key chain, a pen each from U of T or Toronto etc - and some
bigger gifts – e.g. 2 football shirts (Arsenal or Manchester United) or
Canadian caps for the drivers (who pick you up daily from the compound to take
you to Amanual or St Pauls Hospital). You will need to bring a few hostess gifts for
dinners out and to thank helpful people when you leave.
Internet: there is a dial up line from the compound where
we live although service is relatively slow it is reliable. However since we share the line you can only
plan to send one or two brief emails a day max.
There are many internet cafés in Addis.
Guide books: Lonely Planet and Bradt are good guides, among
When you arrive:
Filling out the
entry data on the card in the plane as discussed in the pre trip briefings.
As you get off the plane you enter the beautiful new airport building and line
up for passport control. If you look around you will see a window where
you can get Ethiopian currency, it is easy to miss in the excitement of
uncurling after the long flight, but if you miss this chance there won’t be
another until you find a bank during usual business hours. At passport
control you give the officer your passport and the entry data card. Often
the passport officer checks your passport without any verbal exchange.
Next pick up your
case/s and then walk slowly and calmly through customs. You will see
Ethiopians having their cases searched, but they are unlikely to stop you as a
westerner, unless you look deeply suspicious!
Someone will meet
you when you arrive; after week-ends away as you walk towards the parking lot
you can start to listen to the cab drivers who have already started to ask you
if you need a cab. A reasonable price for a cab is 60 Birr from the
airport to our compound. Follow the instructions below on how to
negotiate with a cab driver. Men will usually load your bags into the
cab, pay 5 Birr for each bag loaded. You will find your first child/adult
beggars in this parking lot; they will ask for money. It is suggested
that give Hope Enterprise food vouchers, (each voucher provides a free lunch in
the centre of Addis) instead of money but it is a matter of individual choice.
If you do give money to beggars don’t give them more than the men who loaded
Traveling and things to do within Addis and Ethiopia:
Addis is one of the
highest capital cities in the world at 8-10 thousand feet. You will probably feel breathless for a
couple of weeks to a month if you walk fast.
(Also alcohol goes to your head faster!) Nevertheless if you want to run it is safe
and enjoyable to do this in our large compound (in which our little bungalow is
situated) although your speeds wont be as good as in Toronto – great training though! You can run without too much untoward
attention in the streets of Addis if you go around 6am in the morning. The air
quality is somewhat better but still poor.
There is a tennis court and volley ball court – no one has tried tennis
but one resident enjoyed joining in the local students in volley ball.
The Sheraton has no
gym! The pool is lovely and heated, excellent for kids but also has lane
swimming for about 90Birr. Sauna and whirlpool were extra.
The Hilton has a
fairly well equipped gym (6 treadmills, elliptical and stair machines, nautilus
machines and limited free weights), squash and tennis courts and heated pool
for Birr 65 per day.
The Hilton has a
movie one Friday of each month for Birr 35 open to the public. They advertise
in local papers and in their lobby. Apparently
the American embassy also shows movies every Wednesday night at 7pm, you have
to bring your passport.
Cultural: Visit the Museum
and Library of the Institute
of Ethiopian Studies in the old palace of Haile Selassie
near Siddist Kilo on the Addis
campus – a truly wonderful and informative museum
Berhan Ethiopia: A cab ride to the
“old Bulgarian Embassy” will bring you to an elaborate stone and painted iron
gate. The compound is composed in numerous rooms and buildings to show
traditional Ethiopian fine art, furniture and building styles. Designed and
implemented by an Ethiopian woman married to a European, the cultural center is
meant to show the ‘other face of Ethiopia’.
By appointment, call Adamu at tel. 60 41 63
ANSI Gallery:Just north of the
French Embassy a small sideroad (horribly cobbled) goes off to the right, at
the very end facing you is the gallery gate. The proprieter and Reni Packer are
still in touch if you want details. Three rooms displaying paintings and
prints, very professional and obviously much more affordable than home.
Eating out: Eat at Castelli’s in the Piazza for great antipasta salads and
home made pasta - a true Addis tradition! It is smart and expensive but you can
eat ice cream and salad there without worry. It is open for lunch, too.
Phone for a reservation 0111 57 17 57. It opens at 7pm.
Fasika is an Ethiopian restaurant for visitors, with wonderful
Ethiopian food and music.
St George Brewery: The brewery fronts
onto Chad Rd
just east of Mexico Square.
At the back on a smaller street one block north you will find a nice little bar
with a couple of outdoor tables. Some days they also had snacks.
Rose Café: On the Piazza there
are a number of small cafes running along the north side of the street, west of
the turn to Castelli’s. Most were on the third floor with great terrace views
over the city. The entrance, east of the central Piazza on the north side was
nondescript, opening to a large stairwell. It advertised children’s clothing
only. You’d likely have to look up from the street to locate it.
Top View: It really is pretty
spectacular to see the city from up here. You feel a little like you have been
transported to California,
very surreal. The food was decent but I think you go for the atmosphere and
brief escape from the city. Listed in all of the guidebooks.
Zhongchou Restaurant: Look for the red
lanterns! Amazing mainland China
cuisine…better than most Toronto
restaurants. A converted house on the north side of Bole Rd near the airport, past Sangaam
Restaurant and across from the large mall called ‘Friendship City
Center’. They also do
takeaway. Entrees were mostly Birr 20 but ran to Birr 1000 for lobster!
Sangaam Restaurant: Great Indian food,
a fair trip out to Bole or ‘Africa
Road’. Somewhat spicier than you might expect
but everything we had was quite good.
Bambi’s Supermarket: Take a minibus from
the Insa College front gate east on the ‘Megananya’
route, and indicate that you want Bambi’s to the tout. This is a 15-20 min trip
in a straight line, past Meskal square to the first set of traffic lights. The
store carries treats like European cheeses, olives, and chocolate as well as
fruits, vegetables and dry goods.
“fasting wat” is the vegetarian platter of Ethiopian beans and lentils, and is
usually available at restaurants on Wednesdays and Fridays.
If you want to experience Ethiopian cuisine before you leave, visit Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant on College Street in Toronto.
NY Times article on
restaurants in Addis
Shopping: NGO Fair: The last Saturday
of every month there is a fair of handicrafts in the British Embassy
ALERT: Atelay’s wife Ruth
is the director at the leprosarium. The gift shop is featured in most
guidebooks. Prices are reasonable and not negotiable. Textile embroidery is
their specialty, and they have tablecloths, wall hangings, bedspreads and
smaller items like potholders. They have some wooden carvings and very
appealing woolen twine animals. Make sure to take the tour of the production
Women Fuel-Carrier’s Association: Limited selection
of mostly textiles, and were not as open to visitors touring their site as at
ALERT. Refer to the Lonely Planet for directions.
Merkato: Don’t let the
guidebooks put you off with warnings of pickpockets! Walking in the Merkato can
be a terrific experience. A guide was essential to see the heart of the
handmade cloths and spices areas. You could ask someone at the hospital to take
you there or there are men in the central market area whose full time job is to
take tourists through the maze of stores. Negotiate a fee, a guide is
invaluable for keeping beggars away, and helping with negotiations for
reasonable prices. The quality of traditional clothing we saw here far
surpassed any other vendors. The central market pastry has two sites; only one
has soft drinks (on the second floor of a market building) and had good pasta
Haile Selassie Arts and Crafts
Hall: Set back from the
street, surrounded by a high wall but has a prominent sign. Located across the
street from Hope Industries, near Theodros
Square on Churchill Ave. Craft pieces that are
priced reasonably (no bargaining!) and with substantial stock of baskets,
textiles, carvings, silver and gold. Tel. 11 63 84
Hope Enterprises, half way up Churchill Road at the yellow building on the West side of
the street below Tedros square. It is
open during normal working hours and you can buy meal tickets, 8 to a packet for 4
Birr. You can give these out to people who are begging in the street
instead of money—they are appreciated. Hope Enterprises is a local NGO and has
been in existence for a long time in Addis feeding over 600 street people a
day, half of whom are children. They
also offer jobs at their farm where they grown the produce.
Bargain for anything you
buy, but gently! Never lose your
temper! Bargaining is part of life there, part of how people engage
with each other in the market, although it is best to know how much something
should cost before you start to bargain. Be polite and respectful.
Watch how the Ethiopians do it. Try a few times with objects that you
don’t have to have!
Getting about in
Addis: There are no street numbers and very few street names in Addis.
You need to know the area and the usual landmark near where you want to
go. For instance our compound is called the Building
College or the Hinsa College
in Amharic, near the Ferdi Beit, Mexico
Square, in Lidetta. A cab driver might know where to take
you if you say Hinsa
College, but giving the
other 3 pieces of information (near the Ferdi Beir, near Mexico Square in Lidetta) are usually
necessary. All cabs are blue and white; when you want one, look
expectantly at the cabs as they drive by. If they are empty, one will
stop. Move to the front window and the driver will wind it down, ask him
how much to Sidist Kilo (or wherever you want to go). He will name a
price considerably higher than the ride is worth. Smile, nod, back away
and gently turn away, wait a little and look back. He will likely ask you
what you want to pay; you tell him a little less than what you have in mind to
pay, alternatively name your price and stick to it. He will repeat his
price. You again apologetically decline, repeat this process until you
agree on a fare, although by now he will usually agree (assuming you are not
out of the ball park) and now you and up to 3 others climb in. Once in
the cab you can’t negotiate a price, since getting in is viewed as accepting
the deal. When you leave give the driver the prenegotiated price in exact
change, a tip is not required. If there
are more than 4 of you, some cabs will take you all, but this often requires
one person to keep their head down if the police are around; fun, but tough on
the cabbie if he is caught, because he may get an expensive ticket. The
cabs are old and sometimes seem the worse for wear but the cabbies are good
drivers and the rides seem safe enough although there are no safety belts. Often the doors do not lock properly and can
swing open during the ride. Linking arms
with your colleague in the back seat usually prevents someone falling out…..
The larger blue
and white mini buses have routes and take passengers whose destinations are on
their route. A boy will be hanging out of the door shouting the areas and
landmarks on their route. If you don’t recognize your destination in his
fast Amharic, tell him where you want to go succinctly. If it is on his route,
he’ll stop the minicab; if not he’ll indicate where you are likely to find a
mini cab going that way. It is a great thing to take a mini cab, squeezed next
to all the local passengers, paying the local fixed rate for the ride, usually
less than 1 Birr. It always makes one feel like a seasoned traveler to do
this! Ethiopians are, as usual, extremely polite especially when you are
all crushed into a small van.
Don’t get into a
mini van empty of passengers you can get scammed.
Enjoy a cab drive up to the Entoto Hills above Addis for
a panoramic view take a weekend or more to visit Sodore hot
springs and the nearby Awash
Lalibella is an hour away
by Ethiopian Airways for a week-end and we think one of the wonders of the
Gondor is a short
flight away with extraordinarily well preserved castles built in the sixteenth
century – as with most places in the country there is very little tourism. The
only westerners around are you! Which makes you feel like an explorer; on the
down side, there is very little information about the places and sites you
visit so consult your guidebook.
Harar is an old Muslim
city in the East of Ethiopia – well worth a week-end to visit
You can book
trips to sights within Ethiopia
at the Hilton which has an Ethiopian Airways desk or at the Ethiopian Airways
office downtown; take your transatlantic Ethiopian Airways ticket with you and
they take Visa. You will get about 50 US$ discount on local flights
if you came to Addis on Ethiopian Airways, but only to selected historic places
and there have to be a minimum of 2 tickets bought to qualify.
to come to Addis worry about the political situation but our experience is that
this is not a safety issue for us. One
group had to leave because of street riots but our Ethiopian friends and
colleagues masterminded their speedy exit with no problem. Our group felt conflicted at leaving, wishing
to stay and complete their month, but we are always guided by our Ethiopian colleagues
there whose safety can be compromised by protecting us. We have found our Ethiopian colleagues and even
strangers solicitous and generous in their care of us, to an extra ordinary
extent. So with regard to safety it is
the lack of infrastructure which tends to provide the biggest risk. The sidewalks are very uneven with large
potholes and rocks to twist your ankle – hence attention to good footwear. There are no safety belts in the cabs which
we take all the time and their doors have poor latches and can pop open. Link arms in the back of the cab if there are
3 of you – it works to keep everyone safely inside! However the cabs are old and don’t go very
fast. When you go into restaurants and
Government buildings an Ethiopian who may be accompanying you will get
searched, you probably wont be. The
guards may ask you to leave your camera for the duration of your visit to the
building, please comply.
Although Addis has a good reputation for safety, as with all new places,
take a little while to get a ‘read’ on Addis and on the area of Addis you are
in – be cautious and wary at first without being paranoid! As you settle
in you will come to know more of what the parameters of personal and property safety
are. The commonest danger is pickpockets: decoy wallet for men, in back pant pockets are
recommended. The pickpockets are not
violent and usually travel in pairs – one distracts you while the other takes
your money. You don’t even
realize until it is too late! Wear a money belt, or bring a little lock
to attach to the clasp of your bag.
Don’t wear jewelry or use a flashy camera, and count your money in
private not in the streets and divide your valuables: money, tickets, passport,
traveler’s cheques, etc., so if something is stolen you haven’t lost
everything. In Addis people and children are curious about you and shout
“faranji,” the name they have for westerners. 99% of the time they are
good natured and mean no disrespect. Either disregard comments or nod and
say hi or “denasterling!” The more you engage the more they will.
computer and money stowed carefully away in the compound while you are
If you feel
unwell in Addis mostly it will be because you have a cold, sinusitis,
tonsillitis, tummy bug, etc. – hopefully you will have brought favorite
remedies with you. Talk to one of our colleagues if you need to – they
are good doctors! However, if you need more
help and want to consult a doctor in a western style clinic:
Swedish Clinic: on
Old Airport Road
between the Guyanan Embassy and the Chinese Embassy 011 3 71 07 68
Clinic: 011 661 23 54
USA Embassy Clinic:
011 3 71 07 68
Brook Clinic: 011
5 51 34 35
telephone number: 0113 71 30 22 – you can
call this number 24hr/day and speak to someone in Ottawa who has access to information in Addis
(e.g. clinic hours).
University of Toronto residents are briefed (mandatory) by Safety
Abroad prior to leaving for Addis, the rest of the teaching team can also
attend – Safety Abroad provides an emergency phone number which can access help
in lieu of illness or other difficulties from the University of Toronto.
Don’t forget to
equip yourself with health insurance, ticket cancellation insurance etc before
you leave Toronto.
Web site: Foreign Affairs, Government of Canada
Other important information:
Be prepared to spend lots
of time together:
This is a necessity for several reasons: it really helps to watch each other
teach, debrief, and reflect to each other at the end of each day on how it
went, etc. It is surprisingly stressful to teach psychiatry in another
cultural environment: reflecting, debriefing and supporting each other helps a
- Keeping an eye on each other is
also important for safety, so be prepared to hang out as a group and
- Know where each other is at all
Don’t drink the water
– ever! Don’t compromise: no ice, no ice cream (except at Castelli’s and
the Hilton). Bottled water is widely available and inexpensive the local brand
is Ambo and delicious and fizzy and in recyclable glass bottles; Highlander is
the local still variety, and more expensive and the bottles are not recyclable.
Clean your teeth with bottled water.
Wash your hands lots! And don’t
touch your face! Take nail files or clippers so if you break a nail you
are never tempted to chew them smooth with your teeth – sucking dirty hands
doesn’t work well in Ethiopia!
If you think you have inadvertently taken in some e coli, start
chewing/swallowing Pepto Bismol in divided doses – 8 a day, as prophylaxis –
some say this works to prevent diarrhea.
interpersonal rule after never loosing your temper is try never to
let someone lose face. No matter what their SEC, Ethiopians are
interpersonally adroit and sophisticated and appreciate the same sensitivity in
return. If you do make a faux pas however, they will likely tactfully
ignore it or laugh rather than take overt offence.
Photography is a sensitive issue – no snaps at the
airport or anywhere near the palaces or government buildings, it is illegal and
the police will be angry with you. Most
Ethiopian people hate having their photos taken except for the children (some
object) and patients. The patients are
enthusiastic re photos but informed consent is not possible - a patient can
have no idea how we might use them and their relatives will object very
strongly indeed if they see their relative's face on websites etc, there is
much stigma against mental illness - so please be very careful about this. Take photographs from a car or bus works
quite well - it works quite well but again discretion is necessary – and be
knowledgeable where the no photography areas are re Government buildings. You can try asking permission formally from
people you wish to photograph but be prepared for no. Please dont pay people for their picture if
you can possible help it. Ethiopian are
proud and resent being turned into beggars by us.
with friends and family in Canada
is difficult. We have an internet dial up line in our bungalow in the
compound and there are internet cafes (the twins in the Piazza was popular on
one trip) that are cheap (25 cents/minute) but slow by comparison to the
west (30 minutes to log on and read 3 emails and reply briefly to one). Reading and responding to
your email daily is not possible. Writing an email to someone twice a
week is realistic! It is much easier to get your friends/family to call
you in Addis; it is very expensive to call out. So remind them of the 8
hour time difference. Best times to receive calls in Addis are between
7-8am or 9-10pm. The phone is on the
same line as the internet so be sure it is free if you are expecting a
call. People go by first names in Ethiopia so
tell your Canadian friends to call for Jane, or Dr Jane, or John or Dr John,
not Dr Smith or Dr Jones!
We usually have a
cell phone in Addis and can buy cards to keep enough Birr on it to make long
distance calls if necessary.
number from Canada:
011 251 112 750 800
Cell phone number
from Canada: 011 251 911 480 808 or 9