Now that I’ve had a few weeks to reflect on my trip to Central/Eastern Africa (Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda) and Ethiopia, I thought I’d share some of the lessons I learned. Here’s my top 10 list of the things that will always stay with me from Africa, indelibly etched in my memory: Don’t like coffee? Sorry, too bad. You will be required to consume at least 2 cups of coffee every day that you’re in Ethiopia at the request of your hosts, friendly strangers, and curious villagers (who invite you into their homes). You will learn to appreciate the intricate ritual of the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, performed carefully and respectfully with fresh cut grass, incense and a jebena. Don’t like being pulled into cultural dances? Sorry, this is also too bad. You will always become part of the exhibit with increasing likelihood the less you want to participate. It’s a combination of the locals laughing with you and at you, and sharing (or trying to share) the culture and tradition that’s steeped in them since birth. Of course the outcome is an utter spectacle. Alcohol helps with the shame. (I became part of this performance too a few minutes later. The more….
I woke up around 730 and had breakfast – fried eggs, toast, and papaya juice – in time for my 0830 meeting with Kassa to begin our drive to the Monastery on the Mountain – Asheton Maryam Monastery. It was about an hour car ride crawling up a windy and steep mountain that began right around the Four Olives Hotel in the center of town. Along the way we saw a few interesting things….
I’m sad to say this is the last day of the Schaffer family 3-country trek through Central Africa. We had a great time and, more importantly, nobody fought, nobody got sick, and everybody survived. In fact, we may even do it again soon (Spain!?)….
It’s the night before my trip and I am psyched, but also a little anxious. I notoriously over-packed, but in my defense, one whole bag is dedicated to photography equipment (on the right) and of course I have to bring my laptop also for blogging and post-processing….