Ethiopia had been a dream since 1998. While studying in Toulouse, everyday on my way to uni I would pass a travel agency that advertised flights to Addis Ababa. The name sounded exotic and beautiful, remote, with a soft vowel sound which I liked. Repeating the melodic name on my walks to school, I decided I would go to Ethiopia one day. 19 years later, it was time to go.
I left for Ethiopia unprepared, exhausted from months of working too much, excited, and with simple expectations. I just wanted a journey that was like no other before – though I never clarified what was the difference I was looking for.
So I got something totally new as I traveled the land where old was the old of the old, where human shape emerged and language appeared as sound. And it reshaped me.
As I braved the country on my own for 6 weeks, I discovered new comfort, grace and easiness of traveling with others while we made each other safe. Most travelers I met dealt in one form or another with danger and threatening situations, and that created a vital bond, for safety. We enjoyed a true feeling of companionship in the comfort of togetherness.
As Ethiopia was so tough, so intense, often dangerous, and always so straight in the face, I discovered sides of me I didn’t know. Even “traveling sides” of me I didn’t know. I was scared a lot in Ethiopia. Which brought me to explore limits and boundaries, unexpected resources and the joy of feeling safe in groups. I still remember the sense of fear as the sun set down and Ethiopia turned to night. Conversations with groups of travelers interrupted by the discomfort nightfall brought, while we still needed to walk back to our hotels.
Looking at it now, 4 months after I came back from Ethiopia, siting at home where I feel entirely safe, I feel much gratitude for all the challenging bits of the Ethiopian trip! I am so happy to know more of me, to have adjusted my travel rhythm to be present to what I was living, and the absolute joy of feeling so bonded with the traveling tribe in Ethiopia that year.
Then there was the intensity of the lush, the strength of the Nile, the wild and unique Simien mountains, the superb churches of Lalibela, the orange colors of the earth, my local friends, people of grounded smiles, the tribes of the Omo Valley, coffee plantations and jewellery with colorful beads, my hair braided by a new sister, wooden crosses, injera everyday, chiroo, the joy of sitting in circles listening to Amharic, staring at a time before time, breathing in a wisdom from before everything… and sipping coffee at Tomoca in Addis Abbaba. I wouldn’t change that for anything! Amaseganalo Ethiopia 🙂