I am away from our home for two weeks, and in lieu of daily writing, I’m running a series called Travel Diaries, with excerpts from my travel journal from the year I spent traveling around the world. I left Melbourne, Australia on September 16, 2008 to spend a year away from my home visiting friends, family, making new friends and visiting far away lands. These excerpts are as accurate as can be with the more shocking typos edited for my own pride’s sake. 

Monday 22 December 2008

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

This feels like the crown jewel of the first part of my trip. I feel wide-eyed and happy at the smallest things – like getting my visa, walking through masses of Ethiopians with luggage in jute bags all tied up with rope. It smells like spices.

Virtually no white people. Can’t hear English.

Flying over Zim, Tanzania, Sudan and who knows what else today. I saw forests, rivers, patches of buildings – I can’t get over Africa. I want to live here. I want to visit different places, all the countries in this vast place.

Wednesday 24 December 2008

TI, Ethiopia

Over 500 kilometers later, I am no in the Ethiopian highlands in the south west area of Ethiopia (about 100 kilometers from Sudan). OUr drive to Jimma yesterday was 360 kilometers in about six hours. Today the road was all unpaved and ridden with potholes.

I am getting the full African experience – packed Land Rover, villages with thatched roofs and mud walls, herds of cattle blocking the roads. Sometimes I want to pinch myself. Forty-eight hours ago I landed in Ethiopia. Unreal.

Thursday 25 December 2008

Christmas Day. My first without a single family member. We had it with all the missionaries here in TI (one day I’ll get the full spelling of the village’s name). Rice stuffing, roast chickens, ham, green bean casserole, roast veggies, gravy, and for dessert, pumpkin and apple pies, ice cream, Christmas pudding, pavlova and custard. It was great.

Greeting the Me-En people involves five kisses or beso besos.

Friday 26 December 2008

I sat in a mud hut with a Me-en family. She cooked for us – Tef bread and scrambled eggs and two cups of Ehtiopian coffee with sugar, a treat, most of the times it’s with salt. Chickens, roosters and baby chicks ran in and out as we sat there engulfed in a cloud of smoke from the fire where she was cooking. She is pregnant, almost to term and if she delivers while I’m here, I will be there to watch.

One of the men there thought – AGAIN – that I must be part Ethiopian. Clearly there is a reason why I’m here.