Well let me tell you, the past two days sure have been a bit of a whirl-wind! In fact, I can't even honestly say it has been two days because while travelling to Ethiopia we actually lost a day. So, our flight took off Saturday Morning at 11:20 and we arrived in Addis Ababa at 8:20 am Sunday morning but was only 12 hours, weird right?! The flight was super smooth and we were provided with excellent service and food, thanks Ethiopian Airlines! Sunday was supposed to be our only real free day where we were suppose to rest and relax before the week ahead. However, we all wanted to be "adventurous" and explore... little did we know how insanely jet-lagged we were going to end up around 2pm! We visited the National Museum where the infamous "Lucy" rests among ancient tradition military garments, art work and plenty more. From there we went to the Zoo. Now I will be completely honest here, these opinions are completely of my own and I do not speak for the opinion of others, but the zoo was just incredibly depressing. The lions were huge and kept in the tiniest little cement rooms where there was no room for them to play around. They were visibly stressed and uncomfortable, not to mention that their habitat was covered with litter, at one time we even caught a lion chewing on a water bottle. As one of my professors pointed out, it is so unfair to be forcing an animal to live in such horrible conditions considering they have the land space to provide them with a much more conducive and appropriate home. But, we DID see a lion projectile pee soooo--... After not sleeping for 30+ hours, we were all a little delirious and slap-happy, so we made one last stop at the top of the mountain to take in the amazing views and sip some coffee.
So- some observations that I made today:
1) Ethiopian culture is much more free with their displays of friendship; men were walking with their arms wrapped around each other, laughing and joking together. Women were holding hands and linking arms while walking down the street and every where I looked couples were holding hands. It was really beautiful to see such an open group of people being so comfortable with one another and not displaying such restrictive personal boundaries like we so commonly display in North America.
2) Ethiopians are so proud and connected with and in their faith. Whether it was on the plane ride to Ethiopia or walking down the street or sitting at the restaurant, people were praying together aloud. Joining hands, arms and voices to share in a common prayer. It was really magical to see all of these different people, men, women and children all uniting through a common practice. As Lauren said: "it really does make you wonder if Western countries really are better off without having that same sense of unity that is found in religion"
Well friends, I am so so so tired (because I am writing this on Sunday night here in Addis), it is 8:30 and I am calling it a night! Below I have shared some photos of today and cannot wait to share more stories throughout the week, detailing our amazing adventure here in Addis Ababa!
Much love to you all as always,