in just a couple of weeks i will be eligible for visitors, so now may be the time to drop some deets.
until november i can have visitors, but i can’t stray very far from my site. my site, you may recall, is three days drive from the nearest airport. so, while i am still extending a blanket invitation to anyone that wants to brave the journey, i would ask that you read and reread my the kingdom beyond the castle walls post before you decide three bus transfers in ethiopia is no big deal. to save those who didn’t make the cut, i will not name names, but i have a mental short list of people who might stand a chance against the jimma loop trip without a guide. for your own safety, if you don’t think you are on that list, wait until november.
due to my distance from addis, i also advise that you rereread the kingdom beyond the castle walls, as well as meet the peace corps: the home team, alphabet soup, and the jimma loop before you decide you want to come to masha at all.
that is not to say, however, that you should shy away from visiting me altogether. i simply don’t want you to spend 5 days each way, traveling to a place where there isn’t a whole lot to do, best leave those visits for people who think that braving three bus transfers in ethiopia is something to do (and believe me, it will be something to do with me as your guide). a better idea would be to check out travel in ethiopia, and pick out some things you would like to do and see, and i can be your guide/travel companion.
some options to consider:
the shashemene fork:
shashemene and the bale mountains. shashemene is the city that was gifted to the rasta movement, and well, it’s a rasta oasis in the middle of ethiopia complete with all that that entails. the bale mountains are an amazing national park with camping and hiking to beat the band. branching off in the other direction at shashemene finds one at hot springs, crocodile markets, and wildlife preserves. camping and hiking can be found here as well. at the far south end of the southern route live the “lip plate tribes”. if you want to see some national geographic type stuff, the type of stuff you think of when you think of africa, this is the perfect apex to an ethiopian vacay, and if you’re interested in eco-tourism, most of the environment volunteers are hosting eco-tours throughout the south.
the addis hub:
this is the “i didn’t think they had this kind of thing in the middle of landlocked africa” trek. north of addis are lakes and larger cities that lend themselves to the luxurious traveler’s wants and desires. lounge by the lake, sip cold drinks, and enjoy western amenities in an unmistakably african way. this would be a good way to go if you were interested in staying near addis. brief excursions in all directions find this sort of attraction, while addis itself has a wide array of not quite western culture, and the largest outdoor market in all of africa (await photos from “last ferenji standing day” after swearing in before you picture what this market might look like. i’m pretty sure right now you’re picturing it as much more quaint than it is. i’ll say this: it’s not so much will you get robbed, but will you be left for dead afterwards. ok maybe it’s not that bad). this is the most expensive way to see ethiopia, in that enjoying western amenities can often cost western prices. if, however, you know where to look, who to ask, and what western amenities can be foregone for african ones, you will still have a dirt cheap good time (with the equivalent of 50 cents being expensive for a beer, you do the math).
the far north:
if you like your africa hot and dusty, then this is the trip for you. you can fly from place to place. you can see the nile complete with waterfalls. you can peruse the camel market, and purchase some badass swords to weild while riding the camel you just bought, and you can visit massive churches and temples carved into the mountainsides.
the girlfriend experience:
so called because i really only expect one person to express real interest in this trip (though i can think of a few that might enjoy it if they attempted it). if you want to know what peace corps looks like when it gets rough, the jimma loop is for you. lots of long cramped bus rides, lots of cities that get real boring, or real dangerous, outside of the two blocks around the bus station. lots of sleeping on the “extra mattress” at other peace corps volunteers’ houses. let me tell you something, though. if you want to see third world done right, this is the loop for you. the jimma loop volunteers include alyssa , celeste, and myself, which means that peace corps ethiopia cuisine at its best will be found on this loop (in addition, the hotels in walkite and jimma have very fine dinning of the ethiopian and western varietals). our one luxury is a hotel with a swimming pool in jimma, which is day one of the trip out my way. if you want the best produce, coffee, honey, and tej that ethiopia has to offer, the southwest has got it. if you want monkeys, and jungles, the southwest has got it. if you want to know what pcvs do with so much free time, the southwest can show you. if you want to know what hanging out in ethiopia is like, the southwest can make that happen for you.
summing it up:
if you want the rasta, crocodiles, and half naked tribesman experience, i’ll take you to the south. if you want a “vacation” like none other, we can do an addis based adventure. if you want desert, nile, and indiana jones, the north is for you. if you want nothing more than a roughin’ it beyond the comfort zone for the sake of adventure adventure, i can show you how the jimma loop lives. if you want to visit me, but avoid ethiopia altogether, pick a country, and maybe we can work it. i already have designs to be in kenya, tanzania, ecowas (togo, benin, ghana, burkina faso), and morocco at some point during my service, and eritrea, djibouti, egypt, and beyond immediately following my close of service, but i think you know i’m always down for an adventure, and i can always make it work.
or you can just send a care package to: po box 101, mahsa, sheka zone, ethiopia with a letter detailing your excuse as to why you couldn’t bring it in person…
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stay tuned for our next episode:
jesus, laura, quit hogging all the mail.
easy listening: against me! : americans abroad