…and what sometimes annoys me to no end here.

Today I was faced with things I love about Ethiopia and things that I can’t stand – all on my way home. Let me start with a bit of explanation. I went to Sendafa (a village about 40km outside of Addis) today with a group from York, PA. Some of them I knew before and some I just met today. They were all very nice and we had a great day in Sendafa. The weather was perfect and I always like getting out of the city. The weather and the countryside of Ethiopia are things that I love about Ethiopia.

After that we came back to Addis sometime in the afternoon and I proceeded to take the public taxis on the way home. I was also carrying a rather large bag of things that my parents sent with the group (thanks guys!). If you have ever ridden in one of the public taxis here, you know that carrying anything can be a problem because they crowd people in so much. The mini-bus taxis are meant to seat about 12 people, but they often cram in nearly 20.

Anyway, I wasn’t too worried, it wasn’t rush hour yet. The first taxi that I got was no problem, took me to my destination just fine. Got out and walked to the next taxi stop and got in that one and we started driving. All seemed fine until they started to stop along the way and keep adding people. They had fit as many people as was possible and were trying to add one more. It was at this point that some guy said (in Amharic) “We could fit one more, if it weren’t for this foreigner”. Some people in the taxi laughed. I just shook my head. He said it because he expected that I wouldn’t understand and wouldn’t do anything about it. Well, I did understand. But, I didn’t do anything about, not worth creating a problem where there doesn’t have to be one.

This whole situation made me a bit frustrated/annoyed. I’ve grown used to standing out here, people making jokes about me, people staring at me and all of the other things that go along with being a foreigner in Ethiopia. But it still bugs me most of the time. This is something that I don’t like about Ethiopia.

Luckily, this story has a good ending. As I got down from that taxi and started walking towards my house, there were some kids who were also walking home since school had just let out. The kids here are great and can always cheer you up. They were all smiling at me. Especially these two little girls called out “hi!” and I looked over and they started laughing. A minute later a young boy came up with a big smile on his face and shook my hand. Right after that, someone tried to sell me a lottery ticket by saying “try it!”. And, as I turned the corner, there was this teenage guy listening and singing along to a Taylor Swift song (I walked by him and heard him sing “you be the prince and I’ll be the princess”. I had no idea who the artist was, so I came home and Google’d it. Ha). That was enough for me to break out into a full on smile. These are all things that I love about Ethiopia.

All of these situations may seem small and inconsequential, but it really made me realize something: no matter how frustrating it can be to live in Ethiopia sometimes, I love it here. I love it because most of the people are really nice and smile a lot. I love it because the weather is great and the countryside is absolutely breathtaking. I love it because the food is awesome. I love it because I think that I was made to live here.