This is the place where I got the most Scooby Doo “HUH?” looks when I told people I was going there.
When you hear the word ETHIOPIA, what do you think of?
Flies buzzing around the faces of starving people. Famine. Disease.
As someone told me when I was there, “We appreciated ‘We Are the World’. But now that’s what everyone thinks of us.”
I went to Ethiopia because I knew there was a side I had not seen, beyond all the television images. Don’t get me wrong. There is definitely poverty and hunger there. But that does not make up the entire country. Or even the majority of the country for that matter.
Addis Ababa looks like any other large city. Lots of cafes and restaurants. And they are full of people enjoying a snack and some coffee. You’ll see donkeys walking the streets, mud paths that serve as roads, and other signs that this is still a developing nation. I hate the phrase “third world”.
But what pictures don’t portray are the culture of a nation. More importantly the pride and respect that people carry themselves with. Even with poverty prevalent, violent crime is very low.
Never take the images on TV at face value. There is ALWAYS another side you don’t see. Matter of fact, there are MULTIPLE sides you don’t see. It’s up to you to decide to go seek it out.
Second, to those of us who are citizens of the West, especially to my fellow Americans…
As much as we like to down and criticize our country, we are STILL the dream to many in the rest of the world.
No matter how many images of American flag burnings and hanging presidents in effigy you see, there are 10 more people dying to get to American shores. Some quite literally dying before they get there.
The most important thing I carry with me when I travel: My American citizenship
Doors open. Service becomes better. The weight of United States of America is behind you. You become instant marriage material…
Bonus for me: My President-elect looks like me.
Never take that for granted at home or abroad.
I know I never will again.
As for Sarena, I love this photo of us, right before I left Addis Ababa. It’s fun, it’s serious, it’s cute, it’s stylish. If anyone from Calvin Klein, GQ, or Vogue is reading, contact me. I’m sure she’s up for a photo shoot.
Do you realize I’ve been in London almost two weeks and I’ve hardly talked about it? That changes with the next blog post. I’ve got loyal readers to shout out.