Inside Guide: Addis Ababa
No amount of guidebook research can replace local knowledge so HHCo has asked locals about their town or city and how they interact with it. Here we focus on Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa – "New Flower" in the Amharic language. The largest city in Ethiopia, with one of the world’s fastest growing economies, Addis Ababa has the status of both a city and a state and is often referred to as “the political capital of Africa” due to its historical, diplomatic and political significance for the continent.
HHCo meet Addis Ababa local – Heleanna Georgalis, a fervent progressive thinker who holds dear – the people, the culture and the city. Heleanna is also the force behind Moplaca trading and Sheka Coffee Farm - a sanctuary of birds, animals and trees, “this place is ideal for coffee, and also eco tourism. In this land, we grow, process and prepare our very own coffee as well as coffee from the neighbouring farmers”.
What you do for a living?
I export green and roasted coffee, run two coffee shops, and give trainings for people that want to become addicted to this work. I get stressed and excited. We expand in honey, spices and ice cream. What else could one want?
How long have you been living in Ethiopia?
It now seems like all my life, but personally now I can say 15 years (including my first 4 years of life, when I was born and raised here until the political regime brutally changed)
How did you end up there?
My paternal great uncle, had the bright idea to follow his luck in Africa instead of Australia, let us say. He came to Egypt first as a mason for the Suez Canal, and then moved literally to the middle of nowhere in Hirna, East Harar, 111 years ago, to trade coffee. My maternal grandfather moved to Djibouti and established a food trading company.
Both my parents were born in Ethiopia and the rest is history. I moved back 11 years ago, living a rollercoaster of adventures, stress, creativity and growth. I will never regret it.
What do you love about Addis? Why do you love exploring it?
Addis is a gem for whoever is a food, art and music lover as well as a person that enjoys cultural diversity. You have amazing painters, clothes designers that use local material, great pottery and jewellery of ethnic notes, unique Ethiopian food, Ethiopian -‘impossible to anyone Caucasian’- dancing which is called Eskista dancing, as well as beautiful jazz – like African Village, a jazz club created by Dr Mulatu Astatke – a legend of Ethio-Jazz.
How would you sum up Addis?
Total chaos! And more chaos nowdays…
What’s your favourite place in the city? What do you love about it?
Entoto mountain, that gaze above Addis. It reaches 3,200 meters above sea level and it is sometimes referred to as the “lung of Addis Ababa”. Air is fresh and clean, and you are surrounded by hills, and ancient eucalyptus trees.
Also, more recently, the new Zoma Museum. An inspiration of a local artist, that created a beautiful house with local material and design and an amazing garden, full of aromatic plants that one can wonder around. That does not mean that my love for Entoto has diminished, but we must diversify.
Finish this sentence: “You can’t go home before you’ve…
Picked my amazing daughter up from her school.
Describe a perfect day in the city.
The smell and taste of good coffee, breakfast with multi-culti friends from literally the four corners of the world, driving through a city with no traffic, sun, fresh spring wind, swimming in the pool, and dinner home, with a good local wine (yes we now have even those) with more friends. [Wineries: Castel and Awash]
One piece of advice for a visitor?
There is much more than meets the eye, in EVERY possible aspect.