Friday, January 27, 2017

Africa Trip- 48 Hours in Ethiopia

Our African adventure started as we departed the plane in Ethiopia. We would have a layover here before heading on to Kenya. We decided that we wanted to do a day trip tour for our 9 hour layover while we waited to board our night flight. Good idea, because the Ethiopian airport is now one of my least favorite airports. We really had no idea what to expect Ethiopia to be like. I think maybe that is why we were so shocked at what we experienced. I'd like to preface here by saying that I have seen poverty before. I have been to India, the Philippines and Cambodia, and poverty was pretty bad at those places, also. Ethiopia was just, different. I don't really have a way to explain it. The people here are very pushy and you can't tell who is telling you the truth or who just wants money, or to run a scam by you. It probably didn't help that we were the only westerners we saw the whole day. We did meet a few people that were kind, but many who were dishonest and rude. I am sure parts of Ethiopia are lovely, but we mainly stayed in Addis Ababa.

The highlight of our time there was seeing Lucy, the skeleton. Her fossil was discovered in 1973 and she is the oldest skeleton in existence. She ages back  to about 3.2 million years ago. I thought it was really interesting to see how small she was. It was mind boggling to think how we have evolved as humans and how we have changed, a bit.

Next we headed to the Holy Trinity Cathedral to check out an active church. In the back of the church were where the royal tombs were located. I forget exactly who was buried in them, but they are important. Many people go to this church as it is open all day, they set out mats and spend hours praying. I also thought it was interesting to see that the church was secluded by gender separated by an aisle. 

 Next we toured a local street market where people bought their produce, spices, shoes, coffee, nuts, etc. You name it, it was there. I thought it was sad how they were selling the food in the mud. The Ethiopian people we really sensitive about having their picture taken. We got yelled at a few times for taking pictures. I believe they do not want us to see the way that they live, or have their faces documented.

Our Ethiopian lunch. I cannot for the life of me tell you what it was, but the traditional food is eaten with this flat bread as their utensil. You take the bread, scoop up the meat or sauce and then put it in your mouth. They use this flat bread with all of their meals. 

Fast forward and on our way back home we had a few hours to kill in Ethiopia again and we decided to go to the Red Terror Memorial Museum. A sobering and unforgettable experience, to say the least. In Ethiopia in 1974 a few groups were fighting for control over Ethiopia. The people were brutalized, hurt and taken captive, approximately 500,000 people were killed. The museum has displayed of torture instruments, skulls and bones, coffins, bloody clothes, and photographs of the victims. At the end of our tour our guide told us of his own experience with the Red Terror.  He was a victim and barely escaped months of brutal beatings and captivity. In the last 10 minutes we were all a sobbing mess. I left Ethiopia on a sad note, but enlightened to have learned so much about this struggling country. One thing I love about traveling is there are so many things you learn about the world that you would've never known, otherwise. It is hard to believe that killings like this happened to hundreds of thousands of people in the 70's! 

Ethiopia was our first stop in our Africa adventure, and I am glad we went there to get our feet wet, and experience a little culture shock. Now on to our next stop, Kenya!