When I run in Ethiopia, I look out and see eucalyptus trees and rivers. – Haile Gebrselassie
Because Ethiopia has been discussed in two of my previous conversations (Mebrahtu Waits for Snow and The Curious Mind), I thought it would be worthwhile to share some of my experiences as a traveler in the country.
I went to Ehtiopia during the Easter week of 2011. There on break from my teaching job in Ghana, I had time to spend two days in Addis Ababba, and a few days each in the lake town of Bahar Dar and the fascinating city of Harar.
|Vibrant religious images on a monastery in the middle of Lake Tana|
|Easter Sunday at the monastery|
As Alem and Mebrahtu both acknowledge, many Americans fixate on images of poverty and strife when they think of Ethiopia. I certainly went with some long-held notions of famine in mind, but it didn’t take long before I came to appreciate the beauty of both the people and the place.
My week included an Easter morning tour of monasteries on Lake Tana, amazing meals in Addis, and an unforgettable journey through a town visited as much by hyenas as it is by tourists.
|Market Day in Harar|
I traveled alone and on a restricted budget without any trouble. It was easy to hop in vans that went from city to city, and once you've arrived, there is an adorable little vehicle called a “bajaj” that gets you anywhere you need to go. And, if you want to take to the skies, you can book in-country flights through Ethiopian Airlines from Addis to some of the larger towns for a reasonable price.
I loved Ethiopia. It’s unlike any place I’ve ever traveled before. The history is complicated and gender inequities are undeniable, but there is so much more to the country than what the headlines would have us believe.
A multicultural and remarkable town
|A girl in the Harar market|
|A Meat Market in Harar, Ethiopia|
|The crowded meat market|
|Sorting coffee beans in Harar|
Where to stay when you visit Harar: Rewda Guest House.
This is a beautiful B&B. You’ll need to consult Lonely Planet to get a working number for the place and you must book ahead. Be prepared to encounter reservation problems. Be open to staying at her sister’s place (Zubeyda Waber Harar Cultural Guesthouse) if your room is (for whatever reason) no longer available. Cost: about $20 per night.
Where to stay when you visit Bahir Dar: Kuriftu Resort
This is where I highly recommend splurging on a fancy resort. For $100 I got a gorgeous room with a view of the lake, a feather bed, a huge shower, access to the pool, three meals, a massage and mani-pedi. It was heaven. http://www.kurifturesortspa.com
Where to stay when you visit Addis Ababa: Harmony Hotel: Good location, provides a free breakfast, and is within walking distance of some great restaurants. About $65.00 a night. http://www.harmonyhotelethiopia.com