In a month or so I’m headed back on the road but this time to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I have been 3 times before but it’s been several years since my last trip. Being in Addis the first few times were really hard for me. I had never seen that kind of poverty in a city before – well, maybe Mexico City when I was in high school. Every day I was bombarded with so many people in need. You see poverty in Zambia or Malawi, but it isn’t the same as what you see in Addis. I can’t even begin to explain it. During my first trip, all I could do in the evenings was distract myself from the begging and lack of health care I saw in the streets. It was a rough trip.
By my third trip, I was definitely more comfortable with the city. I blend in there – like people me for directions in Amharic on the street blend in. I love working in our office there. Our project staff are so amazing. They take me home, they fed me, the call to make sure I get in OK. Really amazing. Actually, everyone I’ve met there is great. So warm and welcoming. Hotel staff remembered my name, that I had gotten married since my last trip and wondered about the progress of my work.
I’m excited (except for the leaving Micah and Izzy part) to go back, visit old friends and see how the city has changed. It’s possible I might even be there for Ethiopian Orthodox Easter which would be awesome! I am also determined to do something outside of Addis this trip. I’m not sure how far I’ll get as the country is large (3 times bigger than Texas) and I need to stay away from the border areas as there is a lot going on there. If I had the chance, I’d head for Lalibela.
Lalibela is in northern Ethiopia and is the second most holy city after Askum. It was said to be built in the 12th century and it’s layout is modeled after Jerusalem. The churches (which the city is famous for) are built into the rock there and are stunning (so I’m told). Check out the pictures:
The Madhane Alem Basilica via Easy Voyage
image via Enjoy Your Holiday
Actually, if you want to see some stunning pictures of the beautiful people of Lalibela, check this page out.
Lalibela will require a flight and at least an overnight. It may not be doable with my schedule though I hope it is.
There are a few day trip options from Addis. Maybe the Blue Nile Gorge which I’m told is Ethiopia Grand Canyon. Or one of the many spa towns. You may not know this but Ethiopia is the spa capital of Africa. Sounds hokey but it so true. Every hotel I’ve stayed at (not all of them were nice) had a saunas and stream rooms that were frequented by locals. Everyone goes to the spa or the hot springs. Actually, the pool at the Hilton there is heated by a natural hot spring.
Maybe I should start with a city tour. There is lots in Addis I haven’t seen. I will probably avoid the Mercato though. The Mercato is the largest open air market in Africa and an anxiety attack waiting to happen.
Do you go to a place regularly for work but have yet to explore it?