When I first told people I was moving to Ethiopia, the most common response was “Why?!”
It was awfully romantic to say “for the love.” And I’ve stayed in Ethiopia for the last seven years for the love. I can’t say I’ve fallen for Ethiopia however, as much as I did/do for the husband.
This bumper sticker on my car isn’t entirely accurate but I couldn’t find one that said “I SOMEWHAT LIKE ETHIOPIA.”
The things I somewhat like about living in Ethiopia, or Addis Ababa really, are actually the same things I struggle with.
It’s different here from anything I’m used to which turns each day into a bit of an adventure. The adventure used to mean no power from 7 a.m. until midnight every other day. These days the adventure might mean stumbling upon a grocery store that has mini shopping carts for the kids to push around. On the days when I feel like another housewife with a college degree, I remind myself that I’m doing the housewife gig IN AFRICA.
I go without. There is no real access to “stuff”. The latest, greatest, most fashionable, best-selling stuff has no place in Ethiopia. That generally leaves me feeling uncool but I don’t feel bombarded by stuff either. (I have to admit that sometimes I have shopping dreams where I’m at a mall finding everything I need, like hair product and jeans.) Not having access to stuff has made me a bit more crafty. Lately I’ve been making things I can’t easily find or don’t want to spend a ridiculous amount of birr on.
Life is simple. There’s no drive-thru anything or fancy craft stores. There is Merkato though. It has almost everything – you can buy just one flip flop if that’s all you need. Lately Pinterest (which I never know how to pronounce out loud) has been helping me feel a bit more connected (Oh! I got a repin!). It also helps me to come up with crafty and educational activities for the kids (other than watching Tarzan for the tenth time.) If a month is particularly dull, I take a pregnancy test just to add some drama. But even that’s getting boring. It’s always negative except for those two times.
I caught myself telling someone the other week that Addis Ababa “is like home now.” As the words fell out, it surprised me because I hadn’t even realized I felt that way. Yes, it can be a frustrating adventure in which I’m often feeling uncool with frizzy hair and tattered jeans. But after seven years, I’m finding it hard to imagine myself anywhere but here. Home.