Everything you need to know about Ethiopia, you can learn on the bus.

Feel free to add some more! 

  1. Everything is shared. If your neighbor has fruit or peanuts, he will offer you most of it. Likewise, if you have some, you better offer it to your peers.
  2. Space is also shared. There is no concept of personal space.
  3. There is no concept of time. A destination is either near (Kirb) or far (Ruuk). Mostly it is near, regardless of the distance.
  4. Greetings last 5 minutes.
  5. Ethiopian music is the only music in the world.
  6. Except of course, for Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, and Eminem
  7. Religion is everything. More so, Religion is everywhere.
  8. Wind is evil.
  9. There is a distinct smell everywhere you go. It is a combination of three of any of the following things:
  10. Burning trash. Roasting Coffee. Body sweat mixed with an old woolen three-piece suit. Burning Incense. Dirt. Orange Peel. Cow manure. Mix three and enjoy!
  11. Two to a seat.
  12. If there is an extended silence, you are expected to talk.
  13. Closing all the windows and creating a sauna like environment will reduce the spread of disease 🙂
  14. Khat, a widely used drug: “It will make you STRONG in the MIND!!!” (It won’t)
  15. When boarding a bus, Ethiopian hospitality goes out the window. First come, first serve.
  16. Anything worth doing, gets done early. Daylight is for coffee breaks.
  17. Style beats substance. The dashboard of the bus will look more comfortable than your seat.
  18. Only guys pee
  19. You don’t talk on your cell phone. You scream on your cell phone.
  20. Sure I broke the law, but how dare you punish me for it!
  21. Wait, sorry about that — Three to a seat.
  22. Tailbones are for pussies.
  23. So are knees.
  24. It wasn’t awkward until you asked me to ‘play with you’… Now it’s awkward.
  25. Being hot is welcome.
  26. Being cold is the worst imaginable punishment.
  27. Ethiopia is incredibly diverse.
  28. Ethiopia has 84 languages. If you don’t know the local one however, you suck.
  29. However if you know three words of the local language, you are the most brilliant person in the world.
  30. Coffee is life.
  31. But don’t you dare bring it on the bus. Customs checks will nab you.
  32. Ethiopians will often walk 20 miles to get to the market. But the bus better stop directly in front of their house.
  33. I mean DIRECTLY
  34. Towns have specialties. You stop in one town so everyone can buy discounted onions. 30 km down the road you can get good, cheap Khat. The next town down has the best oranges.
  35. There are no trashcans, save for the bus floors and gutters.
  36. Ethiopians get sick from the bus more often than foreigners get sick from the food.
  37. Everything here breaks.
  38. Then everything is somehow put back together. Often times by splashing water on it.
  39. Ethiopia has some amazing landscapes.
  40. The pecking order of domesticated animals: Cow > Horse > Donkey > Sheep > Goat > Chickens > Cats > anything else with four legs > every other known animal that could may one day be domesticated > Dogs
  41. Yeah it’s sad, but a bus will swerve for a chicken but not a dog.
  42. there is no concept of the individual. Only the community.
  43. For example: You don’t say, “This is MY stop” You say, “there IS a stop.”
  44. You can never underestimate the value of a paved road.
  45. The ride is bumpy. There are ups and downs. It is cramped and uncomfortable. People are sick and throwing up and we all smell terrible. But, hey we’re all on this ride together.
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7 comments on “Everything you need to know about Ethiopia, you can learn on the bus.

  1. mom says:

    Wow, Mike, We’re along for the ride with you…not sure I’m happy about it! Orange peel doesn’t smell too bad, though.

  2. brittanygoesglobal says:

    You are an absolutely incredible writer. This is the best Peace Corps blog I have come across- you chronicle it so well. I will be following your journey.

  3. Kadee Mae says:

    Just because you’ve paid the correct price to someone who tells you the ticket price does not mean you’ve actually bought a ticket. (Here’s hoping you didn’t binge tonight. It’s my birthday in February!)

  4. Lori P. says:

    My son is leaving for Ethiopia in May for a Peace Corps assignment. Sounds like quite a country; similar, yet dissimilar, to the urban area in which we reside! I’d like to think that we swerve for both dogs and chickens in the States.

  5. And half of these things are not true in a big city like Addis Ababa. This is just one side of the coin. Half of the opposite is try in a big city like Addis Ababa.

    • waidmann32 says:

      You are so right! I should have mentioned that this list only applies to rural areas. Addis Ababa is so different than the rest of Ethiopia that often I wonder if it is part of the same country. IF you want to see how 84 million Ethiopians really live, hop on the 14 hour bus from Addis to Bonga!

      • I know how people in rural areas live. I have been there. Rural life is different from city life and just because there are more of them than people in big cities I point out that you can’t learn all about Ethiopia (which was the title of your post) by just looking at rural life. There are two sides of a coin. The people in Addis are also real Ethiopians. It is the same if you go to a small town in the mid west of USA it will be different from NY both both are Americans.
        That was my point. remeber that many people that are reading your posts may never visit Ethiopia. So yuor words are important.
        People are as smart and intelligent in rural areas if just presented with opportunity and means. that shines thruh sometimes in your posts.
        remember that people that have not visited ethiopia base their perception of what you write on th biases they already have.
        I know you mean well. That is why you are there in the first place.
        Sometimes it is worth thinking about this when you use a public outlet.
        How do you think that the man you portray as annoying (though he clearly appreciates you) in one of your posts would feel if he reads your blog? He clearly has a computer so it is not impossible?

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