August 25, 2015
The people: my dad, Graham, a 64-yea-old chimney sweep born and raised in Kentucky. My mom, Melinda, a tree-hugging, nature-loving environmental education hero. And my aunt, Chris, a wonderfully sarcastic middle school principal who runs like an Ethiopian. These three lovely people flew thousands of miles to come see the place that I call home. Pretty well-versed in international travel, this was the first trip to a country as historically, culturally, and physically rich and challenging as Ethiopia. This, however, never stopped them from taking on and experiencing the country with clear eyes and full hearts.
The activities: The first glimpse I had is of my dad's hug mustache walking out of the international terminal, a head taller than anyone else. There were tears and hugs and laughs and then the adventure began. We went eveywhere. We went to Gondar, on a day hike in Simiens, Axum, Lalibela, Harar, Bale Mountains, Adaba (my site), and, finally, Hawassa. With them I saw more of the country than I had in my first year and a half. We learned about the history. We experienced the culture drinking lots and lots of coffee, having selfless hospitality, buying beautiful crafts, following women headed to church in their natellas, and eating injera and injera and fir fir (injera) and injera. Oh, and we even stopped in on a local t'ela bet for a taste of the local beer after dodging a herd of goats and donkeys running down the middle of the street. We saw the beauty of natural Ethiopia and ate fresh fruit bought from a market with colors of all hues. We relaxed with wine by the lake in Hawassa, watched the storms roll in, toured my town, ate with my compound family, and turned heads as we strolled through the market to buy spices and incense. And we just were together. We talked and caught up, played cards, and read side by side flying around the country.
The result: Amazing. It was amazing to have my family here and to see where I have been and will be living for two years of my life. It was amazing to see Ethiopia though their eyes and be a tour guide to this wonderful place. It was amazing for them to meet who I've been having shaybuna with every day for the past 15 months and to see my desk in the Agriculture office. It was amazing to have them by my side as I experienced new parts of Ethiopia and shared familiar parts. I will forever be grateful to have had them come and experience such a big pat of my life with me. But, maybe the best part was how fascinated everyone, especially kids, was with my dad's rockin' mustache.