The original plan on this day was to head to Meskel Square for another early morning, long distance bus. Destination? Bahir Dar. Our main interest in visiting this city in Western Ethiopia was the scenery- the scenic ride passing the Blue Nile Gorge, sighting hippos at Lake Tana, and hiking to the Blue Nile Falls. But with Lil’ Z at the onset of a cold, we didn’t think another ten-hour bus ride would be therapeutic. Instead, we returned to a guesthouse in Addis Ababa to rest up before returning on a red-eye flight to Muscat.
Our vegan buddy could be no more delighted to hear of our return and eagerly offered to meet us. He and Urbndervish went to collect refunds for our cancelled bus tickets to Bahir Dar and flight tickets from Bahir Dar to Addis Ababa. They successfully returned just after Lil’ Z and I took a nap and we hit the pavement again to savor some Ethiopian deliciousness before our eventual return home.
The Lonely Planet guide speaks highly of the Ethnological Museum at Addis Ababa University, so we weaved through Piazza to check it out. The inviting campus is orderly with manicured lawns and lively college students. We made our way to the heart of the campus to enter Haile Selassie’s former palace which currently houses the Institute for Ethiopian Studies.
Ethiopians can enjoy the galleries for free but if you’re a faraanji (foreigner), you’ve got to pay! The visit was well worth the admission fee and we learned quite a bit about Coptic sainthood, the presence of Islam in Ethiopia, and various traditional customs.
On a Thursday, we knew that vegan fare would be hard to find, so we retreated to Taitu Hotel for our final meal in Ethiopia. Lil’ Z slept on my lap through the buffet and we sat for long, soaking up the taste and tempo of Addis. Watching people come and go, local and foreigner, fed and hungry, we knew there was much more to see and know of her beauty but had to part, nonetheless. We graciously thanked our host and friend, Mesfin, who gave us insight and access to a city we could not have gained on our own (and we pinned him down for a forthcoming interview!).
As the sun set and the day came to a close, we packed our bags and headed to the pandemonium, which was the airport. Baby privilege, once again, shuttled us through long lines and left us waiting at the departure gate. Slowly, all of the tribes reconvened and we met our colleagues from Oman once again. Each one spoke of different adventures, challenges, and stories, but interestingly, everyone seemed to be filled by Ethiopia in one way or another. While the tagline for Ethiopia is “13 Months of Sunshine”, I would humbly add “Something for Everyone”. So much of our shared history can be found there, both in flesh and faith, and her heart and arms are wide open to embrace us all.