I’m back from Ethiopia and probably DON’T have fleas.* Family, get ready for some hugs.
Only two nights ago I was an entire world away, sleeping at 3000 meters above sea level under a Milky-Way-dominated sky in the Simien Mountains, a place that was both completely remote and completely habited by the local population. For the four nights we were in the mountains, I kept thinking about writing a blog post titled, “Ethiopia—stars like whoa” but I didn’t know what else I would say besides “The stars are pretty. There are a lot. Some are bigger than others. They are far away.”
So I probably won’t write that blog post. Now I’m in Cairo and the sky is brown again.
I don’t think I’ve been somewhere before that felt so far away. While I was in the mountains I considered the fact that I was supposed to be heading back to the states in less than a week and the left hemisphere of my brain exploded. No way, I thought. Going to America from a place where I’ve seen shoeless ten-year-old boys plowing the mountainside with pairs of oxen should take at least a month. It’s hard to appreciate distances anymore. Geographical distances can be crossed so quickly, you don’t have time to get used to the cultural and historical gaps between peoples.
I was only in Ethiopia for about six days, which was definitely not long enough. We flew into Addis Ababa at the ungodly hour of 3:30 am last Wednesday and flew out at the even more ungodly hour of 4:30 am today. The entire time I was there I couldn’t believe it. “Wow….I’m in Ethiopia.” I thought, because sometimes interior monologues don’t get more creative than that.
After arriving at Bole International Airport, I exchanged my dollars for birr in the most satisfying money changing transaction I have ever made. I handed over my five thin $100 bills and in return I was given a thick stack of 100 birr bills that made me feel like a real baller. I proceeded to bleed those birr with astonishing speed.
We hung out at the unfortunately named café, “Yellow Spot,” and did some rat watching from the second story (more on this later) before heading to the domestic terminal where we lucked into a 7:00 am flight to Lalibela, the city of the famous rock churches.
In another 36 hours we would be at a castle in Gondar and in 48 hours we would be accompanied by a rifle-shouldering scout while trekking through some of the most epic landscapes either of us had ever seen, Nega, a guy we met at the airport, arranged the entire trip. After completing the deal, we noticed that his business cards said he organized tours of the Semen Mountains, and I confess that did make me a little nervous.
We were awesomely unprepared as the van trundled off towards our high-altitude adventure at 5:30 am last Friday, but we didn’t know it yet. Oh how our bodies would suffer.
On the whole, was an incrediblamaztastic trip and my coverage of it shall continue tomorrow and forever.
*Someone in a travel forum said that fleas sometimes happen.
P.S. Yes we saw crazy animals.