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October 16, 2017

Ethiopia - 13 months of sunshine - where yesterday, today and tomorrow merge seamlessly - Ethiopian Journey - Part VII

Ethiopian Highlands 
The next day morning, the Vice President’s words “the entire country is air conditioned” was ringing in my mind. “What did he mean?” I wondered.  I went to the easiest and most convenient person to ask questions – Google Matha (Mother). Google embraced me warmly and I deep dived. I was astonished at what Google was throwing at me.
I was interviewed for Bahirdar University and Bahirdar is a part of the Ethiopian highlands. They are a rugged mass of mountains , situated in the Horn region of Northeast Africa. They form the largest continuous area of its altitude in the continent, with little of its surface falling below 1500 metres (4,921 feet), while the highest mountain peak, Ras Dashen reaches a height of up to 4550 metres (14,928 feet).
The Ethiopian High lands are often called the Roof of Africa due to their height and large area.  Most of the Ethiopian Highlands are part of central and northern Ethiopia, and its northernmost portion reaches into Eritrea, a neighboring country.
Smiling Ethiopian holding Coffee beans 
In the southern parts of the Ethiopian Highlands once was located the Kingdom of Kaffa, a medieval early modern state, where from  the first coffee plant was exported to the Arabian peninsula . The land of the former kingdom is mountainous with stretches of forest. The land is very fertile, capable of three harvests a year. The term "coffee" is derived from the Arabic qahwah’ and is traceable to Kaffa. The Latin name of coffee is Coffee Arabica as coffee was made popular by the Arabian merchants.

In the highlands, the air is cool and bracing in summer, and winters are very bleak. The mean range of temperature is between 15 to 25 °C (59 to 77 °F). The year may be divided into three seasons. Winter, or the cold season lasts from October to February. It is followed by a dry hot summer, which in the middle of June gives place to the rainy season. 
Bahirdar city promenade lined with palm trees and autos which are called Bajajs
Bahirdar University, Bahirdar is considered one of the holiest places in Ethiopia. Bahirdar or Bahardar is home to the starting point of the Nile River. And Nile as we all know is the longest river in the world. The Nile River starts in Lake Tana the largest lake in Ethiopia. The lake is so big that the town adjoining came to be called Bahardar (by the side of the sea). Lake Tana is so big that the Ethiopians thought it was a sea! Lake Tana has many small islands which have very old and holy monasteries. These are popularly called Lake Tana island monasteries.

Lake Tana the biggest lake in Ethiopia
Bahirdar is located approximately 578 km north-northwest of Addis Ababa, at an elevation of about 1,800 metres (5,906 feet) above sea level.  Bahirdar has a borderline tropical climate.  Afternoon temperatures are warm year round, and morning temperatures cool.  Temperatures vary a lot during the day and in the night. The highest average temperature is 28.8 Degrees centigrade and the lowest average temperature is 5 degrees centigrade. So that is what the Vice President meant when he said that the entire country is air conditioned!
Bahirdar is the third largest city in Ethiopia, after Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. It is the capital of the Amhara region, inhabited by the Amhara people. Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia.
That was more than enough for me to get excited. Many get opportunity to go to USA but how many have the chance to visit one of the oldest countries in the world?  The oldest surviving skeleton of human man mankind, ‘The Lucy’ was found in Ethiopia.  Ethiopia has a long history and is fiercely independent. It was only colonized for a very short time by the Italians but the proud Ethiopians threw them out in a jiffy.

Addis Ababa,the new flower, capital of Ethiopia and the 3rd highest capital in the world
Ethiopia is considered as one of the most influential country in the Entire African continent and the Capital, Addis Ababa (meaning New Flower, I should say very romantically named!) is often called the capital of Africa and is the headquarters of the African Union. It is said that all the African countries have atleast one of three colours of the Ethiopian Flag, green, yellow and red.  This is to show respect and acknowledge the contributions made by Ethiopia to the African cause and development.

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