Things we will MOST miss about Ethiopia
1. Our friends – beautiful people to whom we will always remain close. The warmth and hospitality of the Tekeba family will always stay with us, and the memory of the home cooked meals and coffee with which they welcomed us will always make our mouths water.
2. The warmth emanating from everyone. People greet each other continuously on the street with open arms, while friends and sometimes even strangers share the same large plate in restaurants. The generosity of people towards us has been immense even when they face hardship.
3. Being able to smile, wave and be spontaneous with children even to the point of giving a hug to those we cared for and who cared for us, and seeing their parents look at us with love in their eyes rather than the warped sinister looks we would receive in the UK. Most of the kids themselves are adorable and unspoilt.
4. The Beyaynetu, injera filled with delicious chickpea sauce and vegetables, followed by avocado juice and coffee at the Alliance Inn, with the smell of frankincense burning sweetly.
5. Daily trips to our favourite small coffee shop (Degie coffee), always freshly roasted in front of us.
6. Enjoying the experience of what life must have been like in 19th century Europe. The roads are filled with animals – cows, oxen, donkeys, mules, horses, fowl, dogs, cats, goats, sheep.
7. Walking out of our hotel and just looking around to see hills, historic monuments, wonderful flora and fauna in the day and myriads of stars at night…Ethiopia, almost everywhere, has great holiday spots for history, mountains and wildlife.
8. The weather at least for our visit during the dry season (Nov-March) has been perfect – around 30 celsius every day and 20 at night.
9. Ability to wear anything without being judged by fashionistas.
10. Moringa – the wonder tree whose leaf, bark and roots are suitable for all sorts of ailments.
11. The pace of life. People still take 2 hours to lunch, pause for coffee, everything is closed on Sunday afternoon and people amble in the street, ready to stop and socialize even on their way to work!
Things we will LEAST miss about Ethiopia
1. Getting woken up at 4am by the praying in the church. It is worse on Sundays when the volume of the loudspeaker is turned up.
2. Getting approached every day by street urchins demanding money, bananas, food, bread, water, footballs and pens…and by adults for bajaj rides and tours.
3. Getting different prices as “faranji” foreigners. Prices are cheap even when ripped off but the principle hurts, so we always need to negotiate our way back down towards “Habasha” Ethiopian prices. Negotiating every day is tiring.
4. Feeling of being powerless when seeing the level and extent of poverty everywhere.
5. Frequent cuts in water, wifi and electricity. Coming back from the Simiens desperate for a shower, even a cold one, we had to wait 5 hours for water to come on. Another desperate moment was missing a goal during one of two cuts in a Champions League game shown at midnight in a local bar.
6. Limited menus. Outside of Wednesdays and Fridays – when restaurants do not serve meat – we have really struggled to eat vegetarian meals that are not pasta or omelette.
7. Always being extra careful with what we eat and drink. Even the huge care taken did not avoid us both getting food poisoning as well as one of us getting a parasite!
8. Uneasy feeling seeing local citizens walking around town with rifles, especially given the tensions between the many tribes in the country.
9. Inability to replace or repair any modern technology. A few things we brought out with us (laptop, phone, etc) have needed replacement parts that are unavailable in Ethiopia, which has limited imports and no online shopping.
10. The state of the roads, especially the smaller ones, makes travelling in town very uncomfortable in a rickety bajaj and in the cramped minibuses. And travelling to towns further away means spending many hours on the road with experienced drivers used to traversing the many potholes.
11. The fleas in our first hotel will certainly not be missed.
12. Seeing men urinate in the streets in full view of everyone and the smell as the sun warms up the places they have used.
13. The slaughtering of animals in the streets at night and hearing the dogs going mad for scraps and offals and seeing the discarded heads, skin and bones lying in the streets.
14. The state of toilets in hotels, restaurants and even the local clinic…the least said on them, the better!