Alice Allan, the author of the book, titled “Open My Eyes, That I May See Marvellous Things,” talks about here experience in Ethiopia, specifically in Addis Ababa.
I lived in Ethiopia for four years when my young family and I were posted there with my husband’s job. As a diplomatic family, we’d lived abroad before, but Ethiopia got under my skin like nowhere else.
My book, Open My Eyes, That I May See Marvellous Things, is set in Addis Ababa. I was working in public hospitals, with premature babies, and my book tells the story of a midwife who falls in love with an abandoned premature baby. The book’s set in the city’s warrens of cobbled lanes, where cows and donkeys mingle with the priests and faithful on their way to church, on the sheep-bitten hillsides and eucalyptus groves of mount Entoto, and in the old Italian quarter, Piazza, where the antipasti is as good as any from Rome and the coffee (dare I say it?) even better.
Addis Ababa means ‘new flower’ in Amharic. Empress Taitu, wife of Menelik II chose the site of the city in the late 1800s for its proximity to natural hot springs. The settlement grew – at current reckoning its population is nearly 3.5 million people. Now it’s the home of the African Union and a major hub for tourists traveling all over Africa.
Addis is steeped in traditions; the Othodox Christian festivals of Timkat (January), Fasika (Easter) and Meskel (September) see the streets fill with the devoted. It’s home to Lucy, the world’s most famous early human ancestor, whose remains are kept at the National Museum. But it’s not all about history; Addis has international hotels, a new light railway system, amazing cuisine and fun nightlife.
Put on some stout boots and walk up behind the British Embassy, passing the church at Yeka, and heading across the ridge of the Entoto mountains towards the ancient rock-church Washa Michael. It’s a good two hour walk, and the altitude is not to be underestimated. However, the views over Addis towards the mountains are unparalleled. The marathon runner Haile Gebreselassie has a training ground up there, and you might be lucky enough to see some elite athletes charging past.
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You can get Alice Allan’s book “Open My Eyes, That I May See Marvellous Things” by clicking here
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