Ethiopia has changed me. After allowing myself a couple days to readjust to my normal life and get over the jet lag, I found that the things I used to whine about, I didn't really feel the need to whine about anymore. Even with a few additional stressors, I am keeping my cool. Pretty good, considering.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that it was a hellhole and I am glad to be back from the rigors of the third world. Sure, it is a developing nation and its cars wouldn't pass a smog check on the tenth try, but there was something about Ethiopia that was actively calming. The weather outside was quite pleasant. The food was great, and the coffee was world-class. The people I met were refreshingly open-minded and aware. The Internet connection worked 50% of the time, and the other 50% gave me ample opportunity to read Jhumpa Lahiri's latest in the comfort of my hotel bed under fluorescent lighting.
It was more like I had to go halfway around the world without my family to realize what a gift it was to have a family, even one as strange as mine. I am so much more grateful with the life I have been given. I know, it's so "Eat Pray Love," right? I just have to write my memoir and soon I'll be speaking at TED. Ironically enough, I got to watch the movie on the plane ride to Addis Ababa and it annoyed me at the time. It's SO the pretty white girl whimpering "my life is really hard, you guyyyys," and my eyes couldn't roll enough. But let me just show you how much I've changed since then!
I promise to no longer judge any person's journey to awareness (I'm looking at YOU, Tiger Mom lady!), even ones that make the NYT Bestsellers List. So, to make up for my prior judgeiness, here is my tribute to first world women travelers everywhere, aka the "Eat Pray Love" summary of my trip to Ethiopia:
I lost 4 pounds despite consuming a blanket's worth of injera. Yay! But I lost my duty-free British chocolate + carton of Dunhills on the last plane back to Los Angeles! Boo! Oh well. I was able to see a group of good kids go home with their forever families and my life is altered because of it. I am blessed. You are blessed. I wish you nothing but happiness and Javier Bardem.
Ahem, okay, that was a little snarky. But seriously you guyyyys, I have regained some peace and composure and it is definitely coming in handy right now.
Here is a slideshow of my trip (you have to either click through to Flickr or expand to full size and click "Display titles and descriptions" in order to see the captions):
PS: Travel notes in case you are planning on going to Ethiopia one day --> My main physical complaints were my incessant nosebleeds (by the third day I definitely felt the impact of losing that much blood) and the fact that the room got stuffy because the window didn't have a screen and therefore mosquitoes threatened to bite us and the baby. Both problems would have been solved with a window screen or a mosquito net and a humidifier. How one would lug a humidifier to Africa I dare not guess, but maybe there are ways to replicate the effects.