Friends and colleagues:
Greetings from 33,000 feet above the Great Rift Valley in East Africa. Right now I'm sitting on Ethiopian Airlines flight 501 from Washington, DC to Addis Ababa looking forward to landing in about two hours.
As some of you know, I'm joining a project for the Ethiopian Minstry of Finance in Addis Ababa this fall. I hope to send an occasional email describing how a programmer from Colorado, USA gets along working on a major IT project in the developing world.
Some geography: Ethiopia is located in East Africa south of Eritrea, west of Sudan, north of Kenya, and north and east of Somolia. The capital, Addis Ababa, is at approximately nine degrees north latitude and 40 degrees east longitude. The countryside ranges from plains to high mountains (just like Colorado). Addis Ababa is at 7500 feet above sea level, a bit higher than Denver. Even though it is near the equator the weather is quite mild.
One of the strangest things about this trip so far has been to be around folks talking in languages I do not even "hear". I can sorta pick out words in Spanish, French, German, most of the Scandinavian languages, and some of the Eastern European languages but Amharic (the primary "working" language among 83 with over 200 dialects in Ethiopia) does not even enter my brain as "words". Hopefully, that will change quickly as I listen to people around me and try to speak a word or two. An additional challenge is that Amharic has it's own alphabet and there is no "official" translation into English. Fortunately, many folks speak English, too.
You are receiving this email as part of my "Ethiopia - Professional" list. I may shift the whole thing to a blog but, at least for now, I will send emails. Let me know if you would like a different address, to be removed from the list, or if someone you know would like to be added to the list.