Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Final Days in Bahir Dar
Two years. When I applied to Peace Corps in 2008, I thought it would be impossible to spend so long in Africa. It might as well be ten years. Looking back, I’m barely scratching the surface of understanding Ethiopia after two years. I could stay another two, and still not know everything there is to know about this huge country in the Horn of Africa.
Today is my last day in Bahir Dar. I’m leaving on a bus at 5am to Addis Ababa, the capital city. It’s shaping up to be a busy day, which means I’m out of opportunities to enjoy some of the wonders of the city, like a walk along the lakeside trail. I’m heading over to the New Day Children’s Centre to donate some clothes and toys, and I’m having dinner with the staff and students. It’s the last time I’ll see them before heading out on my bike. It’s the last of many sad goodbyes.
Last night, the staff of my primary HIV/AIDS project threw me a small party. We had a traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony, and had some good conversations about life in Ethiopia and America. After the party, the project manager took me out to dinner. He’s a very busy man. Between his demanding work and his devout religious practices, I rarely get to just sit and talk with him. We spoke of philosophy, and non-traditional lifestyles. He really likes that I’ve decided to see East Africa by bicycle. The fact that I’m 27 and not married is shocking to some Ethiopians, but he appreciates that I’m living my life the way I want to, and not settling down just yet. We spoke of the changes we’ve seen in Ethiopia, and how there’s a slow movement toward stronger national pride that could mean huge improvements for Ethiopia in the coming decade. It was one of the most fulfilling conversations I’ve had here, and it made me feel hopeful. After my final project was botched, it was good to reconcile and end on a high note.
So, tomorrow I am off. My bicycle and gear went to Addis yesterday in a private car, so I’m taking the public bus with only one bag. I’ll stay at a friend’s house for a night, and then travel to Ambo to see my host family from training for Ethiopian Christmas (January 7). I feel that I’ve said proper goodbyes to everyone in Bahir Dar, so I’ll say my goodbyes to my friends in Addis now. I’ve also arranged to store some things at an American couple’s house long term. My MacBook and bass guitar are not coming on the bike, so I’ll leave them in Addis and pick them up after Low2High.
For so long, this trip has felt like it’s so far away, but now I’ll be at Lake Assal in less than 2 weeks! It’s here. Showtime!
Posted by Trust Your Instincts at 3:14 AM