I just got back from my 3rd medical mission trip to Ethiopia, and it is quickly becoming one of my all time favorite countries. It has treasures and history that surpass 90% of the world, yet is rarely visited by Americans.

Usually, I spend  March reflecting on Lent, the season leading up Easter, which is April 16 for both Western and Eastern Christians. I will touch on that next month, but this time around I’m going to list a variety of reasons why Ethiopia needs to be visited by jazz fans, and appreciated by them as well. It is truly a unique country, serving as an inspiration for all people desiring to be one of a kind in this world dedicated to stripping away individuality.

  • Ethiopia is one of the two countries (the other being Iraq)that is considered to be where the Biblical “Garden of Eden” is located, thereby laying claim to the birthplace of civilization and mankind.
  • It is the source of the famed Blue Nile, which is considered the river referred to in Genesis. Coming from the mountains, it is the part that delivers 85% of the water flow,leading all the way to the Egyptian Delta. It is also filled with historic figures such as James Bruce.
  • All of the world’s coffee originated in this country, and in no other place does it taste better. Next time you’re sipping at a club, remember that those seeds originally came from here!
  • The Queen of Sheba, of Solomon fame, is said to have come all the way from Ethiopia to be “impressed” by the king of Israel. So impressed, in fact that she bore one of his children. These “black Jews” eventually returned back to Israel in the early 80s, but some still remain. Mazel Tov!
  • Speaking of the Bible, the “Lost Ark of the Covenant” is said to be stored in a sealed and  secured church/monastery in Axum. Go tell THAT to Harrison Ford!
  • Ethiopia uses a calendar that is a mix of both Julian and Gregorian calendars. How many countries have their own way of telling the date? Essentially, they are 7 days, 8 months and 8 years behind. But, they also use 13 months, so 03/15/2017 is 08/08/09. How’s THAT grab ya?
  • Even better, they use a different reference for telling time. Their “day” starts at sunrise, so if the sun rises at 6:00 am, and it’s presently 9:30 am our time, their clocks and watches say that it’s “3:30”. How’d you like to have a Rolex that does THAT?
  • If you are gluten free, you will have no problems here, as they grow a wheat free product named Teff, a flour that is used to scoop up the various sauces and dishes. It feels kind of spongy, and looks like a rolled up pizza, but tastes great.
  • In Lalibela, there is a collection of Coptic churches that were CARVED OUT OF ROCK in the 4th They have rooms, hallways and windows, hewn from a single piece of mountain. And what are WE doing in our spare time?
  • The famed collection of bones from “Lucy” were found in Ethiopia, and are on display in their natural history museum. Want to buy one? I took one of the ribs home.
  • And let’s not forget the Biblical story of Phillip the Evangelist telling the Ethiopian Eunuch, who was reading from the book of Isaiah, about Jesus. This convert is claimed to be the one who took the faith back to his country. How Haile Selassie of him!

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