Photo taken by the author
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
– Marcel Proust
Ethiopia took me some time to get adjusted to.
It was the opposite of Rwanda in mostly every way.
As one of our team leader’s, Ralph, said, “Whatever you learned in Rwanda, throw it out the window when you get to Ethiopia.”
And he was right.
Initially, I did not like the country, but over my extended time there I gradually grew to like it, appreciate it, and enjoy the people around me.
In Ethiopia, one main adventure that stood out is going back and forth to the capital city, Addis Ababa, from our project site located in Harbu Chulule.
Our work site was located in a rural countryside and was about a two-hour drive from the city center. For half of the way the road is paved and the other half is just a dirt road, which made for a very bumpy ride.
In the organization’s Toyota Hilux, Ralph and I would make this trek into Addis every so often to use Wifi, as there was no Internet available in the countryside at the time.
I was introduced to an excellent Italian restaurant at The Hilton hotel, which was about a 15 minute walk from The Sheraton hotel. It quickly became my favorite place for eating dinner in the city, as I would routinely eat a full pizza all to myself.
I enjoyed this spot because it was a familiar taste to home, and my idea was to order a Coke (not Pepsi, as The Sheraton hotel must have had this contract), and, as an appy, fill up on bread with butter to start with and then take in the entire pizza, followed by dessert back at The Sheraton hotel.
Coming to the city was a good break from the urban lifestyle, and was something I was familiar to, having been raised in a big city myself, in Calgary, Alberta.
So, naturally I looked forward to these excursions.
Another adventure that comes to mind is how our mission’s team was the first team to stay in the newly built guest house in Harbu Chulule. The green roof had literally just been put on a few weeks before we got there.
When we first arrived, there was nothing to it; just a big, open, rectangular space. There were rooms at opposite ends, complete with empty bed frames. The inside felt like a container, surrounded by cement walls.
A large part of our work would be in helping to set up the interiors into a more liveable condition for future teams when they arrive and stay here. I got to do a lot of painting (rolling and cutting), helped put sheets and pillow cases on the bunk beds in the bedrooms, wash the cutlery we had brought over for the first time, spray down the new couches with a protective coating, to name a few of the things I was involved in.
This was groundbreaking as we were the first team to live in the guest house and were able to contribute in a major way to the development of the house, and the organization as a whole.