I am recuperating from an busy trip away, and in lieu of fresh material, 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.

Mezan, Ethiopia

Wednesday 31 December 2008

It’s not New Year’s Eve here, it isn’t even 2008 yet. On the Ethiopian calendar it is still 2001. I’m on my way back to Addis and am at the first stop back – Mezan, a two-hour drive from Tikemptishet (TI). Tomorrow we start early for Jimma, and on Friday we hit Addis.

The lights in Mezan keep going on and off. The stars were stunning tonight.

Jimma, Ethiopia

Thursday 01 January 2009

What a day. It started around 12:20am for me – believe it or not, I made it to the turning of the New Year. No celebrations for me though, unless swatting a persistently humming insect counts. I could not sleep last night. Turned the light out at 8:30, fell asleep round 10:45, woke up at 12:10, fell asleep, woke up around 2 – didn’t go back to bed, left the compound at 5:30am for a starlit walk through PITCH BLACK Mezan. The lights were ALL OUT. I had to pack at 5am with the aid of my $6 Walmart alarm clock light. Followed by an eight-hour bus ride on an unpaved road with no AC, packed withpeople. I was, possibly, the only one with deodorant. I thought that ride would never end. I spent the afternoon with Yerusalem shopping – got a pair of jeans, Birr 190 (19 USD) and an Obama t-shirt in Amharic for $2.50.

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.

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. 

 Thursday 4 December 2008

Cape Town, South Africa

What a day. I slept most of the 10-hour flight from London Gatwick to Windhoek, Namibia. Getting close to land was surreal – flat, dry, with patches of green bush dotted by craggy, dry hills. I’m looking for roads, people, houses, marks of civilisation but there is none until we land on something that feels like a landing strip.

We are at Hosea something International Airport. I step off the plane and onto a ramp, descending onto the tarmac – I can’t stop my wildly beating heart. I am in Africa.

On my flight to Cape Town, I saw the most beautiful sunset. Rona always said African sunsets were the best – she was right. Flat brown land all around, on the east the sky is pink, the clouds a deep mix of pink and purple. On the west it is a blaze of red and orange, the clouds are black silhouettes against it, almost like puffs of black smoke from a fire. It lasted around an hour-and-a-half.

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.

Tuesday 03 December 2008

London, United Kingdom

Today was special. I was going to do the double decker tour of London, but after seeing the price tag – no thank you. I had a day pass, so I took the subway around and walked. And walked. And walked.

I walked around Parliament Square, Westminister Abbey, St. Margaret’s Cathedral, Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral, the Thames. Walked to Buckingham Palace via St. James Park. Had a divine hazelnut latte at a cafe.

I walked up and down the Thames until night fall. Crossed a magnificent pedestrian bridge. Right by the Millenium Wheel was a Christmas Market, lit up and full of European wonders like Danish pancakes, crepes, waffles and German sausages. I love Europe in part for all the ways in which it is different from all I’ve ever known.

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. 

Sunday 30 November 2008

London, United Kingdom

I’m in Europe. I am full of joy and love for this place – it feels so magical. I’m even loving the cold, grey, fog. I love London. In part I know I love it because it reminds me of Melbourne – left-side driving, accents, houses…

Monday 1 November 2008

Had BAD jet lag last night, my first bout with it in years. I woke up at 3am and couldn’t go back to bed until 5am. Then I wanted to just sleep in forever.

Today I went to Hampton Court, King Henry VIII’s palace and William and Mary of Orange’s as well. I never cared for Henry, but I loved the other two.

I feel like I fit in London at this time in my life – the history and nostalgia, the Christmas glow. It really has been fun for me. I was walking along the Thames in the dark and celebrating God’s goodness in 2008. What a year it has been in my life.