I am writing this from my home office in Australia, a million miles away from my last home office in Ethiopia. It feels more than a million miles away, but also a million hours – a lifetime ago.
To live somewhere for an extended period of time, five years in my case, is to learn something of yourself. I would not profess to know Ethiopia or her people, but I have experienced Ethiopia and come away a better person.
From my own experience of travel, I knew not to put much trust in the stereotypes portrayed by media. This is definitely the case for Ethiopia. Throughout my time in Ethiopia, each and every one of those stereotypes was dispelled, to become a myth of popular fiction. With travel, as with life, things never turn out quite as you expect.
Wandering Addis Ababa’s city streets with a friend, we were greeted often with a smile, or curiosity, or both. This has not always been my experience, but this time was different. We took it slow. We stopped to spend time with people we came across. We shared our story and they shared theirs. This was to be our one last foray into the city before watching the lights fade as the plane took us up and away, onto other adventures.
This is life in the city in Ethiopia. It is unapologetic, energetic and busy.
I couldn’t have hoped for a better farewell. Although my time in Ethiopia was not always easy or pleasant, with time bad memories are replaced by the good ones and distance really does make the heart grow fonder.
Living in Ethiopia was an experience I could never have done without. It has humbled me. It has made me stronger. It has given me new perspectives. Every day, as I sit in my office in Australia, I remind myself that I am a better person for everything Ethiopia taught me – one of the most important of which is to never take anything for granted – this is my wish for all my friends and family too.
Thank you to everyone who shared this journey with me, whether via this blog, in person or in spirit, a big heartfelt thank you.