Mid-December we head off to Northern Ethiopia for three weeks, with a stop over in Istanbul! After our last vacation to Nicaragua, where we seriously honed in on our travel style, I’m incredibly excited for this adventure. I’ve wanted to visit Ethiopia for the past four years, and I can’t believe we have the opportunity to go. Two 4.5 hour flights and we’re in East Africa, that still seems impossible to me as a native USA west-coaster. We’ll be doing the classic northern loop and are beyond elated at the prospect of certain adventure, mishaps included.
Europe is great. But it isn’t Africa, or Southeast Asia, or even Iceland. It’s too…familiar. Even Nicaragua felt a bit too tame-maybe we were doing it wrong-likely, we were. But this time around we’re back doing what we love, traveling for the sake of adventure (and food!). I still miss Southeast Asia all the time, whenever I see cheap fares to Bangkok my mind spins with possibilities, and while heading back there this winter would have been amazing, we knew the opportunity to go to Ethiopia would be far less realistic once we returned home to the states. So, with a few clicks on Turkish Air, we locked ourselves in.
Sitting on the steps of the Pav, the local watering hole for Trinity students, we met the new class in our program. One girl, from Canada mentioned a recent trip to Ethiopia. When I told her I’d be headed there soon, her eyes brimmed with excitement, “ohmygosh, you’ll just love it, there’s nowhere else like it.” She then cautioned, “well, it does depend on your travel style, it can be a hard go sometimes, and the hotels are pretty basic…But everyone is very friendly, and it’s just incredibly gorgeous.” It sounds perfect, I tell her. We chatted about the various cities she had visited and felt that familiar excitement I’d hadn’t had in a while, talking to a fellow traveler who gets you. Who gets why you travel to places that aren’t easy, who crave unfamiliarity and adventure over creature comforts. Some, though certainly not all, of our friends here have countered our news with “you’re crazy” or “but, why?” Despite the safety and relative ease of getting there. So I relished in the prospect of conversing with someone who clearly is on the same page. Plus, I’ve never met anyone who’s been before, so it was also reassuring to know that yes, you’ll get where you’re going safely (eventually).
As we prepare for this trip I’m trying to strike the perfect balance of enough research to make it easier on us, and enough unknown to keep it intriguing and ripe for adventure. We won’t likely be doing more than one organized tour (trekking in the Simien Mountains). So, aside from a basic itinerary, hotel, and food option lists, I’m trying my best to leaving the reading of each area to the bus en route. And while it’s impossible not to picture sipping coffee in Addis, or peering down at the rock-hewn churches, I’m trying to keep my expectations in check so that I might be as surprised as possible.
But honestly, I’m just ridiculously excited. How could I not be? Regardless, it’s bound to be a grand adventure.