I have way too much to talk about. I’ve gone so long without blogging that I’m behind on stories to tell. I’ll have to tell them in retrospect, with less detail and more insight More reflection. This month has been awesome, tiring, adventurous and eye opening.
I’m beginning to understand Ethiopia. I am less of a spectator and more of a participant now. It’s traveling back in time. It’s a place with no straight lines. Everything is crooked, rustic, bent and beautiful. There is no order and no time. Greetings can last for 5 minutes. Family comes first. Everything moves slow, save for the cars. You have to let everything go. Enjoy the moment, appreciate the little things, and trust yourself. Forget about schedules and watching the clock. The people have amazing eyes and sharp features. They are proud of their climate and culture. They can be self-centered and entitled. But more so than anything they are wonderful hosts. From my host family in Addis Alem to Geze in Bonga and Haile in Bahir Dar, Ethiopians continue to surprise me with their genuine generosity.
I’ll recap as best as I can. One story at a time:
The adventure started when my brother and I headed to the Simien Mountains. I suppose my words can never match my pictures, but heck I can try and do it justice. I’m very lucky. I’ve done and seen some amazing things in my life. I fished for salmon in Alaska alongside Grizzlies. I ran with the Bulls in Pamplona. I’ve backpacked through Europe. But the Simien Mountains might be the best experience yet. It was the Grand Canyon, raw and real, free of the shackles of tourism. It was also filled with Gelada Baboons.
I was able to share this experience with terrific people. It was cool to show off the country to my brother. Luke and I have always been good at finding adventures. We were joined by the lovely Jon, his brother, and Derek and Claire, a married couple who live at the entrance to the park. We stayed with some brilliant researchers from the University of Michigan.
We saw their world, a glorified two day version that included the surreal experience of living amongst the Gelada Baboons. We watched them for hours, their meticulous grooming, aggressive banging, mesmerizing lifestlye. Their eyes are dark and emotional, as if they had a story to tell. It was a weekend of good conversation, great views, and even better company. My brother, my friends, and some distant relatives.