A group of Americans came to visit us last week. They came to see the authentic “Horn of Africa” and make connections with the local people. Our trip out country would be my last excursion to the countryside. I will be moving back to America in 2 weeks time. One of the visitors asked me, “Do you just love it here?” Well, first off, that is a crazy question. It’s difficult, it’s frustrating, it’s beautiful, it’s different. But I was surprised by my answer – “It’s home.” Somehow in my 2 years here, this place has become a home to me. I think I feel this most when I am outside of the city. The countryside is so majestic and so endless. Sometimes I think about how this may be the birth place of humanity – and if that is the case, why wouldn’t I feel at home here.?
Visiting people in the countryside is my favorite thing. The people are genuine and welcoming for the most part – very different from the “Money, Money, Money!” I hear everyday walking around the city. In the countryside, they feed you what they can and offer you the story of their life. In return they listen to our stories. And in the end, the only thing they usually ask us is for medical advice or help because it is so hard for them to travel to a clinic. So here are a few snapshots of my last out country trip and the lovely faces I saw.
One of the highlights of living here is experiencing life as it was a thousand or more years ago. In the countryside, life goes on without the interruption of modern technology or civilization. The only reminder that a different world exists are the few paved roads and a few sections of wire running across a field on its way to the next town, possibly hundreds of miles away. A few months ago, while I traveled through the countryside, I passed countless farmers threshing their crops – just like they did in Biblical times. We pulled the vehicle over and got out to talk to a few of the farmers we saw – asking about their crop that year and to explain the process of what they were doing. These are a compilation of farmers all with different crops. The last image captures the life-blood of this country: teff.
It is funny how I just realized that I spent all of 2012 living abroad. New Years day came and went, and I don’t think I even thought about this fact. But it is true – all of 2012 and then some. But I am slowly making my way back home. 4.5 more months to go. That seems crazy to me. I have no idea what I will really go back to or what is going to happen with my life, but that doesn’t curb my enthusiasm for the possibilities. I have dreams about getting off the airplane and seeing all my friends and family. (I also have dreams about eating bbq pork…) I think I am ready for a change. But I know that I need to live here, really be here for the next 4 months. I have a lot to give to this place and it still has a lot to teach me. So, here’s to the meantime
Went to the countryside a few weeks ago and was able to visit some small villages. I found these women outside of a small hut used as a school. Maybe they were teachers or mothers, I don’t know. But they didn’t mind being photographed and loved seeing themselves on the screen afterwards. While visiting the homes, I haven’t noticed many mirrors or even pieces of mirrors. I wonder how often they look at themselves…wonder how much that really matters…
It officially started a few weeks ago. Hello rainy season!
There is an obvious difference here between good shepherds and bad shepherds. If you drive a little outside of the city, you will start to see them everywhere. The good ones protect their flocks (whether they are sheep, goats, cattle, or camels) from dangers – like cars. But the bad ones, and there are many, will just let their flock walk right in front of cars. The people I ride with like to yell out the windows of the car and tell the shepherds they are being terrible, and then yell congratulations to the ones that do a good job. Side note – there are girl shepherds, not that many, but you see them well enough. I have never seen a bad girl shepherd, just saying.
Looking out onto the countryside of my new home with people from my old home feels beautiful and yet somewhat bizarre. Being able to share this place with others, in a way, makes me own it more. For a week, I became an ambassador to another world. As we traveled up and down mountains, through tiny villages and large towns, passed camels, shepherds, and donkeys packing, well, almost everything – I got to witness the expressions of new eyes. The same expressions I must have had months ago.
These visitors brought refreshment and news of home. They provided an exciting break from monotony and much needed companionship. I am very thankful for their hearts.
There was a time when I listened to Ryan Adams religiously. Song lyrics of his still swirl around in my brain, though his voice is absent from the speakers. The lyric “I want an easy plateau, some place to rest my head, for awhile” would not leave me alone this past week as I traveled through the mountains in the countryside. I can take this sentiment very literally – I get carsick like it’s nobody’s business. But I was also given a beautiful metaphor for my life recently. I have been traveling a hard road and I am ready to find a place to rest my head. Just for a little while.
These were taken about a month ago while I was traveling. It is the time for the harvest, and the farmers have received good rain here. And now, when I go to market, there are large bags everywhere displaying their fruits. There is teff, oilseeds, sorghum, wheat, barley, corn and coffee.
As you drive through my country here, you can see so many different kinds of houses. I have was used to seeing the mud and rock houses, with corrugated metal roofs in my town. But when we drove through a significant part of the country to get to the capital city, we passed a variety of people groups with distinct approaches to housing. These were mostly seen in the country-side and not in the towns. The workmanship and art that must go into creating some of these wonderful structures is astounding when compared to the quick, dirty, and cheap way a lot of the towns seem to be made up.