(Yes, this post is six months late. Yes, this checks out with who I am as a person. Proceed.)
I went to Ethiopia this past summer.
If you are like 98% of the people I told this to, your follow-up question is, “Oh nice! On a mission trip?”
I love Jesus. A lot. And mission trips can have beautiful impact. But it is also possible to be a follower of Jesus who vacations in Africa.
Yes, yes, it’s true.
In fact, Ethiopia was an incredible experience.
Every single time I drank coffee there, it was the best coffee of my life.
They roast and grind beans on the spot before brewing them in a jebena and serving the coffee in small handless cups. (I have always had a secret hatred for handles on mugs so this detail was LIFE CHANGING.) The process is unhurried. The experience doesn’t cost more than thirty or forty American cents. And the coffee, y’all – the coffee is thick, strong, and flavorful – every. single. time.
I spent a little over $200 while in Ethiopia. This included lodging, driver, coffee, food, other drinks, and a handful of souvenirs. What. It also included one of the best massages in my life. In a treehouse. For EIGHT DOLLARS.
I could’ve had one night with dinner in a hotel for $200 in the states.
Instead, I had five days of experiences all over Ethiopia.
- CONSUMING (food)
The food, y’all. The most important part of the meal was injera – which serves as your plate and your utensils and your actual food. Injera is a sour, spongy, delicious flatbread. Atop the injera are spoonfuls of all kinds of lentils, meats, stews, etc. The world is your oyster (which you could probably include too.) Then you tear off bits of the injera and use those pieces to pick up the various toppings.
We ate it everyday – sometimes twice a day. NO REGRETS.
Honorable Mention: The full fish we ate next to the sea.
We went everywhere in this country, y’all. I mean, no we didn’t. But we did drive for hours and stop in a new city almost everyday.
And unfortunately, since your girl took six months to write this blog post… I obviously forgot which cities we did which things. However, the city we spent the most time in, I am happy to tell you all about: Addis:
Addis Ababa has about 6 million people and seems to go on endlessly. It’s the capital city and home to the international airport so chances are, you’ll end up there during your stay.
The Mercato (market) is the largest open air market in Africa. It stretches on forever and offers everything from spices and paintings to flip flops for purchase.
Holy Trinity Cathedral is a stunning Orthodox church with a rich history. It houses the tomb of Emperor Hailessillasie and his wife, Empress Menen. It is also the home to tortoises – an equally thrilling discover, if you ask me.
The countryside of Ethiopia is stunning. We drove through small villages; saw views of mountains; experienced lakes full of all kinds of wildlife (FOR INSTANCE REAL HIPPOS.) The beauty was diverse and endless.
- PHONE A FRIEND.
Before heading anywhere, you should do your research. I say this as someone who hates planning. I cannot stress that enough. However, every country has its own customs and cultures and it can be overwhelming, not to mention dangerous, to go in blind.
If at all possible, reach out to someone who has connections. My good pal Abi Tesfaye was the #1 reason this trip was so incredible. Find yourself an Abi Tesfaye.
- HIRE A DRIVER.
Our driver was the #2 reason this trip was so incredible. “Driver” sounds extremely fancy, but as stated earlier, everything is so affordable. This cost was worth every single penny. Not only would I have crashed into countless cars or killed copious amounts of pedestrians, but our driver knew all the best places to go for food, for views, for sleeping. Hire a driver.
- TRAVEL WITH PEOPLE YOU LIKE.
This may seem obvious, but I KNOW Y’ALL SOMETIMES DON’T DO THAT. In Ethiopia, time moves slowly. Plans can change. Travel with people who can enjoy the slower pace of life, are happy to try new things, and can fully embrace the “go with the flow” attitude.Hey Abi, Abi, Liz, Jeynell – y’all rule and you know it. Let’s do it again sometime.