Quite simply, Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most unique and spectacular countries.
Considered the cradle of humanity, as the location of the earliest found human remains, Ethiopia’s culture and history is as rich as it is extensive. It is a land of fascinating history and thriving culture, best epitomised through its distinctive and delicious cuisine and versatile and unique music.
These cultural and historical riches are complimented by astounding natural beauty. Ethiopia is a far cry from the arid desert state many believe it to be. The land-locked country is home to jaw-dropping mountain ranges, vast lakes and lush greenery, populated by a vast number of flora and fauna endemic only to Ethiopia.
Join Zay Harding as he travels by truck across the equally tough and most spectacular cities and lanscapes of Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian Diaspora
The Ethiopian diaspora, despite the long and extensive history of the country, is relatively small and confined to certain countries. With a total population of 107 million, less than 1 million live overseas. The largest diaspora community is in the United States (460,000), followed by Israel (130,000), Lebanon (110,000), Saudi Arabia (90,000), Italy (30,000) and the United Kingdom (20,000).
Join coffee roaster and social entrepreneur, Dean Cycon and Judith Jones, as they unravel the secrets behind Coffee: The Drink that Changed America.
Dean and Judith chart the discovery of the bean in Ethiopia more than a thousand years ago, its journey into Arabia where it became a drink favoured among Moslems, and then to the growing number of coffee houses in the Ottoman Empire.
Brought to Europe by the Venetians, coffee houses sprung up in major continental cities throughout the 17th century, around the same time coffee made its way across the Atlantic to America.
After the Boston Tea Party, coffee replaced tea as America’s favorite hot beverage and became an essential ration for soldiers in the civil, first and second world wars. It went on to be established as the national staple drink served at the iconic American eatery, the Diner.
While the Italians invented the culture of drinking espresso, it was an American who invented instant coffee, and when American entrepreneurs brought espresso back from Europe, it was the catalyst for an artisanal coffee revolution exported around the globe.
Wild Goats and Dancing Dervishes: The Evolution of Coffee from Ethiopia
Ethiopia is Africa’s major coffee exporter, exporting only Arabica coffee, the species that accounts for 70% of the world’s coffee. The country produces 200,000 tons, of which a little less than half is for domestic consumption. The Ethiopian Coffee Export Enterprise is responsible for the livelihood of 12 million people, which controls 50% of Ethiopia’s coffee market. Its processing plants are found in Addis Ababa (where five plants process up to 500 tons a day) and in Dire Dawa. This figurehead company sells to Germany, Japan, the USA, France, and the Middle East – specializing in unblended and organic coffee.
According to the International Chamber of Shipping, 1.6 million seafarers are stranded at sea and are unable to go home, while relief crews cannot be brought in.
The UK Chamber of Shipping said up to 2,000 – or around one in 13 – of the UK’s 25,750 seafarers were among the stranded.
In a letter written to Shipping Minister Kelly Tolhurst, the trade association has asked the UK government to sign up to and acknowledge the International Maritime Organisation COVID-19 guidance for personal protective equipment and for interactions between ship and shore-based personnel to ensure crew changeovers can resume. Getting them home is “increasingly taking on a humanitarian dimension”, it adds.
Working at sea often entails consecutive shifts over weeks or even months with few days off, followed by a rest period of weeks or months between trips. While these seafarers are unable to return, work will resume even for those in need of a break.
Main image: Container ship leaving bay area, Derell Licht, Flickr Creative Commons
By Sofi Summers
Tips For Coping During Lockdown
It would be fair to say that more of us than usual are facing stress and/or anxiety this month, and with looming uncertainty as to when we will return to normal, it is important to look after your wellbeing. The good news is that most of us have got plenty of time on our hands to take proper care of ourselves, but if you’re struggling for ideas we’ve put together a list of tips and resources for remaining calm and staving off Coronavirus anxiety – and dare we say – using this awkward time wisely!
John Krasinski of The Office has launched aYouTube channel aptly named “Some Good News“, covering any and all positive news that the world has to offer. Spare 30 minutes from your week (preferably minutes which you may have been spending ‘terror scrolling’), and check in with John every Monday for his mood boosting show.
The mental health tech sector has experienced a boom in the past month, with more and more people seeking help from online and app-based sources. App based services such as Better Help offer an affordable and easy way to access a professional ear to chew on. If you’d prefer to deal with your stressors on your own, services such as Headspace use meditation to build awareness alongside a healthy sense of perspective.
70’s cars in Los Angeles, Travelling in the 70’s by Pilot Productions
Schedule video calls with loved ones
Whether its a quiz night, a cup of coffee and a chin-wag or a shared takeaway, utilise video calling to maintain meaningful connections with people you care about. Aside from the obvious boost this will provide to your mood, it will also give you the opportunity to take your mind off your own problems and check in with everyone else.
Set an allocated time every day where you turn off the TV, put down the phone or tablet and close your laptop. Use this time to read, practice journalling, meditate or some other activity aside from your chores. Actively unwinding can help your frantic thoughts to slow down, inspire creativity and help you let go of factors which are beyond your control. Aside from the benefits of the activities themselves, less screen time will help slow down your consumption of negative information, give your eyes a break from harmful blue-light and help you recognise when you are simply scrolling because you are bored.
In most places, lockdown laws enable individuals to partake in an hour of physical activity each day. This is for good reason – exercise generates feel-good hormones! It’s also a great opportunity to get some fresh air, vitamin D, and connect with nature. Don’t forget that walking counts as exercise too, and now would be a great time to take in some of your local sights!
If you cant go out, ensure to do something physical at home. Yoga is a great way to relax your body and mind. Isometric (such as a plank) and isotonic exercises (such as squats and push-ups) are great if you do not have much space and are confined to home.
Preparing and preserving your bedroom as a place for sleep can be very important when trying to minimise disruption to sleep! In the morning, make your bed and air your bedroom; and in the evening light a candle or spray some calming linen spray. Stay away from your bedroom until it is time for bed. Also, Mr. Sandman is not a fan of the blue-light from your phone either, so make sure to leave it aside for a restful nights’ kip!
Set a time for bed each night and stick to it, set an alarm each morning and avoid sleeping-in. Is your sleep pattern already busted? Try to move your bedtime and wake-up back by 10 minutes each day. Even so much as paying attention to your sleep pattern and making a concerted effort towards maintaining a routine will help you feel more in control.
Sleeping in a yurt… Pilot Productions
Make a zero-sum budget
Do you know where your money goes each month? Knowing where every penny has gone, and where every penny should be will help restore a sense of control in these financially stressful period. There are some fantastic online tools to help you draw up this budget, and many computers come with a pre-loaded budget templates!
If things aren’t looking too rosy, then don’t bury your head in the sand. As well as finding out if there are any state benefits which you may be entitled to receive, you should look to temporarily reduce your obligations where possible. Many lenders are offering payment holidays as well as adjustments to repayment schedules, so call your lenders and discuss ways to ease your situation. Remember, it is in their interest for you not to default! Institutions such as Citizens Advice Bureau in the UK can provide some clarity on where to find help, and help you seek it. In the US, assistance generally varies from state to state, so do some digging and find out if there is anything you can do to ease the burden for even a short period.
It is that time of year, after all. What better way to spend an afternoon than cleaning your house from top to bottom, and ‘putting winter away’. Having a clean and tidy environment in the spring time is important, especially when you’re spending so much time at home.
Clean out your closet
Take inventory of your closet! Set aside anything you no longer wear ready to donate it to a charity shop or a clothes bank. Alternatively, to generate some cash, you could sell them online! As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”. Apply this principle to other cupboards, too. Perhaps you have a pile of paperwork stashed away that you’ve been meaning to sort through, old electronics which have been sat in a box collecting dust, or a bathroom cabinet full of lotions and potions – get rid of what you no longer want and organise what you do!
Get creative in the kitchen
Empty out your food cupboard and fridge and get creative! Not only will this help with efforts to cut down on your spending, but cooking can also be a great way to release some stress. There is a plethora of recipes using just about any ingredients on the internet, but we would recommend checking out our Ten Great Global Recipes for inspiration!
We love this Antique Writing Desk. When you’re done for the day, you simply shut it! Image by Thomas Quine, Flickr creative Commons
Working from home
Pilot HQ’s tried and tested tips:
Stick to a routine: Clock in and out at roughly the same time each day where your role permits!
Make the most of not commuting: Go for a walk and/or eat a good breakfast!
Keep your work area as separate from your living area as possible: As tempting as it might be, taking your laptop to bed is not as productive as you think it is!
Take a lunch break!
Get dressed properly: Not just for that ever impending surprise video call, but getting dressed for work will help you focus on work, and keep work and home tasks separate.
Furloughed or on leave
Devote work-time to professional development or other activities which will help to enrich your career and and add value to your employers or your business. This is not limited to simply seeking out online courses; a more holistic approach to enrichment will enhance your life and your career. We love activities such as learning a language, or exploring the plethora of lessons that history has to offer. Why not check out our Study Guides to get a taste for what you might be interested in pursuing.
As much as finding gainful employment is your priority here, it may also be useful to take this time to reflect on your career so far to help determine what your next move might be. If you were already looking to make a change in your career, then there is literally no time like the present. Those who have lost their jobs could also engage in enriching activities to keep the mind as sharp as possible for when that interview finally comes your way.
Have you already engaged in any of the above, or do you have your own coping strategies? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!
Main Image: Ned Kelly‘s First Home in Beveridge, Pilot Productions
Wine Sales Are Booming
Following the closure of many on-trade bars, pubs and restaurants across the world, shops which sell wine and other alcoholic beverages are seeing a dramatic uplift in sales as consumers seek to enjoy a drink at home.
One alcohol delivery service, Drizly, based in Boston MA, have stated that earlier this month the announcement of a lock-down led to the biggest day of sales on record, outstripping otherwise busy periods such as New Years Eve and Halloween.
Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, the government specifically added provision for shops selling alcohol to stay open within the coronavirus lock-down rules.
Kent based winemaker and drinks company Chapel Down have seen sales in supermarkets and off licences grow substantially and direct online sales multiply dramatically as their customers seek to continue to enjoy their brands at home. Chapel Down report that on the current sales trajectory, their sales to consumers enjoying the drinks at home could more than make up for their loss of trade to licenced venues.
However, some nations have taken their lock-down further, effectively introducing a period of prohibition. South Africa, although continuing to harvest and produce wine, have introduced a ban on the purchase of both alcohol and tobacco in a bid to curtail incidence of domestic violence and to improve personal hygiene, adherence to social distancing measures and to mass-protect the nation’s immune systems.
The department of Aisne in northern France began with a similar approach but faced huge backlash from residents, forcing them to lift the ban and allow the purchase and consumption of alcohol.
Current trends suggest that widespread abstinence is unlikely. The wine market has been described in the past as recession-resistant — people like to enjoy a glass as much in good times as they do in bad times.
With many large-scale businesses rapidly adapting to this shift in demand, we hope that smaller, artisan and local producers do not neglect this opportunity to shield their businesses from the impacts of the virus. After all, when this is over, we are all going to need a drink to celebrate!
Main image: Malbec Wines from Mendoza’s Vineyards, Pilot Productions
By Sofi Summers
Rare White Giraffes Slaughtered by Poachers in Kenya
Two white giraffes – one of which was the last female in the world – have been found killed by poachers in a nature reserve in Kenya.
It is believed that there is only one white giraffe left in the world. The white colouring occurs due to a rare condition called leucism, which causes skin cells to have no pigmentation. Unlike albinism, animals with leucism still produce dark pigment in soft tissues, meaning that the eyes of these giraffe were dark.
The stunning white giraffes have previously attracted much tourism to the nature reserves. The killings have also provided a blow to greater conservation efforts that are designed to protect rare and unique species.
Scientists had also been studying the genetics of the white giraffes since their ‘discovery’ in 2016, providing a further boost to the local economy.
“This is a very sad day for the community of Ijara and Kenya as a whole,” said Mohammed Ahmednoor, manager of the Ishaqbini Community Conservancy working with the Hirola Conservation Program.
Poachers kill or capture animals to sell them locally or for the global trade in wildlife. Wildlife trading is a major black market that has increased alongside rising wealth in Asia—a major consumer of wildlife—and the advent of e-commerce and social media websites.
Main Image: Sunset in Kenya, susanjanegolding, Flickr Creative Commons
By Sofi Summers
Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research
7 major global shipping firms have between them pledged $5 billion to develop new clean fuel systems to tackle pollution caused by the industry.
The firms’ aim to decarbonise transoceanic shipping has been received positively by the wider industry and environmental campaigners alike. Shipping accounts for 3% of global emissions and for 90% of how goods are transported around the globe.
Currently viable options include biofuels, green hydrogen, ammonia, renewable electricity and fuel-cells.
The ship owners also are also welcoming a fuel levy to help support research and development in the future. The shipping industry is known for being heavily subsidised, with legislation protecting them from taxes in most parts of the world, however these calls signify a change in attitudes and an acknowledgement that pollution will not tackle itself.
This move also comes following an International Maritime Organisation regulation which has seen fuel suppliers innovating for the January 2020 date which it is set to come into effect, for heavy fuel oil suppliers cut the amount of sulfur used in ship fuels. The sulfur-containing fuel, when heated before combustion, creates harmful sulfur dioxide as a by-product which is released into the atmosphere. It is thought that the reduction of sulfur in the fuel will dramatically improve public health, particularly in the world’s busiest major port areas such as Shanghai, Singapore, Rotterdam, Los Angeles and Valencia.
The international shipping community is clearly demonstrating wider awareness and an eagerness to follow many of the world’s heavy industry communities in their commitment to tackle climate change.
The mummies will be displayed in an exhibition at the Grand Egyptian Museum, a new museum scheduled to open in 2020, along with the full Tutankhamun collection.
The multicolored coffins were found in the heart of ancient Egypt – in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, and have got scientists, Egyptologists and archaeologists very excited! It is the first collection of coffins of this scale to be discovered since the end of the 19th century. The Valley of the Kings is also famous as being the resting place of King Tutankhamun.
Ethiopia To Plant 4 Billion Trees To Help Combat Deforestation
The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has this week launched an initiative to reverse the damage done by widespread deforestation across the country by pledging to plant 4 billion new trees.
The prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has vowed to begin the reforestation project at the start of the rainy season, as a part of Ethiopia’s greater commitment to building a ‘Climate Resilient Green Economy’.
The country has seen huge deforestation over recent years, ultimately leading to mineral and water loss in the soil and reduced rainfall which has caused severe droughts – the most recent being in 2017, where it is estimated that some 2 million animals perished.
Ethiopia is the second largest country in Africa by population, and the economy has been growing at an impressive rate of between 7 – 13% over the last 15 years. Deforestation usually occurs as a matter of course in developing nations in order to provide space for homes and livestock, and materials for developing.
An added issue for Ethiopia is their economy’s reliance on the native Arabica coffee plant which grows wild and is exported and consumed worldwide. Coffee harvesting has not only contributed to the deforestation of the native plants themselves, but will also impact their ability to grow in conditions without enough canopy-cover and an adequate water supply. A study in 2006 found that Ethiopia’s coffee production accounts for 3 percent of global coffee supply and represents 34% of income from exports. With the global boom in the coffee trade, and higher demand for speciality coffees, the share of production for the world’s 7th largest coffee producer is sure only to grow.
Developing nations such as Ethiopia are quickly realising their responsibility in responding to global climate change concerns. The ‘Climate Resilient Green Economy’ strategy now employed by the Ethiopian government hopes to address these issues while strengthening growth and building a greener future for its people.
Want to learn some more about Ethiopia?
Main Image: Nina R, Ethiopia Oromia, Flickr Creative Commons
By Sofi Pickering
7 quirky things to do in Seychelles in 2019
Seychelles is a unique destination in itself, but we have rounded up 7 cool things to get up to while you’re out there. Whether you’re after a one-of-a-kind experience, some of the most extraordinary nature or you dare to try unusual food, Seychelles has got it covered. Keep reading to find out what do add to your 2019 bucket list.
Post a letter underwater in Beau Vallon beach. ‘Unlock the Sea’ is a programme by Le Méridien Fisherman’s Cove and The Marine Conservation Society Seychelles that offers a unique way to experience Seychelles and its marine landscape. You can post greetings back home in an underwater letterbox, which is emptied every two days. This guided snorkelling tour, where marine experts offer an insight into the ecosystem, is a new kind of sustainable holiday experience. The post box is removed during monsoon but it will be back in February at the latest.
Get behind the scenes of ‘High & Dry’ on Mahé island, where the cast spent a month filming the Channel 4 comedy. The largest of the Seychelles islands is blessed with rugged mountains, verdant greenery and paradise beaches. Most of the filming was done in Anse Major. The crew wanted a 360-degree view of unspoiled natural beauty, which is exactly what they found at this beach. You can only get there by boat or on foot but the trip to this slice of secluded turquoise water and white sand heaven is well worth it!
Sample bat curry, one of Seychelles’ local delicacies. The dish is hard to find even for the most seasoned travellers, so it is something to write home about. If you’re staying on Mahé, head to Marie Antoinette Creole Restaurant, one of the oldest and most famous restaurants in Seychelles. Here, you will need to request the fruit bat curry in advance. You can also order it from many Creole takeaways, such as Coco Rouge on Praslin who serve it regularly. And if you want to try fruit bat ravioli, check out Mahé’s La Plaine St. Andre.
Plant a tree in one of the most exclusive resorts in the Seychelles. North Island is a car-free island with four perfect beaches encircled by granite rocks and tropical forest. The tree planting experience sees guests planting endemic flora from a nursery, part of North Island’s Noah’s Ark program. With only 11 villas on an island the size of Monaco, all activities are enjoyed in absolute privacy. Unsurprisingly, many guests don’t leave during their visit except for fishing or diving, even though it’s very close to Mahé and Silhouette island.
Spot the world’s heaviest (and sexiest!) seed, the unusual and endemic Coco de Mer. Because of its unusual, erotic shape, and the fact that the pollination process of its trees is still unclear, this rare seed has always been the object of fascinating mythological stories. Some even saying the trees make passionate love on stormy nights! Catch them at UNESCO World Heritage Site Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve on Praslin Island or in the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens on Mahé.
Marvel at the world’s smallest frog and giant tortoises in Seychelles. The Gardiner’s Tree Frog is only 11mm in length! It is endemic to the Seychelles and its green to brown skin shows a distinctive dark band extending from its mouth, to below its eye and to the hind legs. You can spot the little one at Morne Seychellois, a striking hiking trail in Mahé. The archipelago is also home to the biggest population of the rare Aldabra tortoises. You can find them on North Island, Cousin Island and Curieuse Island.
Meet a real-life hero: the Seychelles Warbler. This native bird saved Cousin Island! When it was discovered that the species was almost becoming extinct, the island that was once a coconut plantation was given protected status and native flora was re-planted. Thanks to the Seychelles Warbler, Cousin Island is now a special nature reserve. Tours to Cousin Island can be organised through operators, guest houses and hotels on Praslin Island.
Ever since its foundation in 1902, the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in central Cairo has been famous as one of the world’s greatest museums, containing an astonishing wealth of artifacts, including the spectacular golden treasures found in 1922 during the excavation of King Tutankhamen’s tomb, perhaps the world’s greatest ever archaeological discovery.
The museum’s time as the world’s greatest museum of Egyptian antiquities, however, is soon about to end, as a brand-new Egyptian museum is on the verge of opening in Giza, close to the pyramids.
The Grand Egyptian Museum, due to open to the public in 2019, will display the greatest treasures currently on show in the old Cairo Museum, plus much much more. Only the most spectacular objects found in Tutankhamen’s tomb, for example, were on display in the old Cairo Museum, while the vast majority were kept in storage, unseen by the general public. For the first time, once the new Grand Egyptian Museum opens, all of the more than 5000 objects found in Tutankhamen’s tomb will be on display, alongside countless other remarkable ancient Egyptian treasures. The 5.2-million-square-foot structure will become the world’s largest museum devoted to a single civilisation.
Interested in all things Egyptian history? Watch our episode Empire Builders: Egypt to learn more about one of the world’s earliest and greatest civilisations.