- My First Impressions of Ethiopia
My first distinct memory of Ethiopia is standing on a cliff in the Simien Mountains, looking down at tiny highland villages dotting the valley on one side, vast green farm land on the other, volcanic mountains surrounding me, and thick-billed white-headed ravens flying above. I’m in the heart of Africa, I thought to myself as I watched the mist roll in; after dreaming about this part of the world for a long time, I’m finally here.
When I impulsively opted for a flight to Addis Ababa from Mauritius, I thought I was ready
for East Africa after all the years I’ve spent travelling in India and Central America. And in some ways, I was. But even as I hiked in the vast, misty wilderness of the Simien Mountains and started appreciating the unique spirit of Addis Ababa, I failed to build a deep connection with the country and its people. I left Ethiopia after 3 weeks – earlier than I had anticipated – but I know I’ll go back someday, with more time, money and perhaps maturity, to rekindle the spark I felt in my initial days.
2. Ethiopia’s living culture is awe-inspiring.
Even 900 year old UNESCO Sites are living heritage sites.
A monk deep in prayers in an underground church in Lalibela.
Existential questions like who we are and where we come from, often plague the introspective amongst us. Ethiopia has some deep answers buried in its midst, and here, in the birthplace of mankind, I had the rare feeling that I’m travelling through time. In a 900-year-old underground church cut into a rock in Lalibela, I was lucky enough to witness a special ceremony with men in white robes chanting hypnotically and beating drums, as the rocks echoed their music. Mountain villages on the countryside near the Simiens felt stuck in time, with men and women wearing bright, flowing clothes, hanging out outside their earthy homes with their cattle.
A local shared with me the irony of Ethiopia being the place where the world began, and yet somehow, fell off the world map into obscurity. I’m glad it found its way onto my map.