Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Ethiopia return trip #3

This is a quick write-up of our trip to Ethiopia in July. It was a short trip.

We flew Emirates through Dubai. The e-visa got us through immigration quickly, then a long wait at baggage claim. We stayed one night at the Toronto Guest House, good value with restaurants nearby. The following day we took a bus from Meskal Square to Hawassa. Six hours, comfortable, no bathrooms. In Hawassa we stayed at one of the clean, cheap, but noisy guesthouses near the lake. We walked along the lake, went to the fish market, and gawked at the marabou storks. We stayed two nights. We also met up with the other family that we planned this trip with and we traveled together from Hawassa on.

The bus to Arba Min'ch left super early in the morning, so instead we took a private car. The drive was about five hours. We stayed at the Haile Resort. Definitely not worth the cost, but slept well. Taking 4 nights before starting toward our final destination was a good amount of time to get over jet lag.

I had arranged for a driver from Arba Min'ch. The driver took us all the way through Konso to Burji. Again, about five hours. Beautiful scenery along the way. 

And then my favorite part - reunion. We spent five wonderful days in the village. We met more relatives - every visit there are more. We learned more family history. The kids crossed language barriers and giggled over the universal humor of ticklish blades of grass and farts. We looked at a lot of photos. We visited the grave of a loved one. We ate until bursting and were told repeatedly that we weren't eating enough. The kids slept in the home of a relative. A steady stream of people came to see us and we lost track of who everyone was. We hugged a lot of people. We drank a lot of coffee. We went into town and watched a match between two local soccer teams. The kids took the cows to graze on the hilltop for the day. We took the donkeys to fetch water. We stumbled through basic conversations in Amharic. We exchanged phone numbers and made plans for better communication and future visits.

Then after five days the driver came to get us and we returned to the Tourist Hotel in Arba Min'ch. There we waited for news about Sidama, where the other family needed to go. While waiting we visited a silk farm, which was very interesting, and the kids went back to the Dorze village. On the second day we learned we couldn't go to Sidama, so the other family had their driver take us all back to Addis. We spent one day in Addis, then flew to Dubai. In Dubai we took the train from the airport for a quick look around, then we flew home. 

The highlight of the trip was having the other family to travel with. It was great to have someone going through the same experiences at the same time. It allowed the kids to bounce back and forth between their Ethiopian and American selves. 

The one mistake I made was not getting a cell phone.

My homework for next time is to improve my Amharic. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019