On the road to Jinka

On the road to Jinka

Before leaving Ethiopia for my Female Condom expert meetings in South Africa, I had the opportunity to take a trip south to the Omo Valley with my team. We flew from Addis Ababa into Arba Minch (which is Amharic for 40 Springs) and stayed at the beautifully rustic Paradise Lodge, which boasts an incredible view of The Bridge of God – this is the land bridge that divides Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo, the home of Nechisar National Park.

Suits made in Arba Minch, from traditional Ethiopian cloth

Suits made in Arba Minch, from traditional Ethiopian cloth

Tree and Toe poses, with a tree-top view of The Bridge of God

Tree and Toe poses, with a tree-top view of The Bridge of God

Adri overlooking Nechisar National Park

Adri overlooking Nechisar National Park

Outside our room at the Lodge

Outside our room at the Lodge

Our gorgeous ceiling… Why can't I have this in NYC?

Our gorgeous ceiling… Why can't I have this in NYC?

In bed, under my mosquito net

In bed, under my mosquito net

After spending a day relaxing at Paradise Lodge, we left before sunrise the following morning for a long drive into the Omo Valley. This was an incredible trip and my first this far south in the Ethiopian countryside. During the drive, small children dance for the cars that pass along the road – in exchange for the entertainment they ask only for a small gift of any empty plastic bottles, which is a valued form of currency. Empty water bottles, given primarily by travelers in this region, are sold during market days so that locals can transport water from the source back to their villages.

Children dancing along the road

Children dancing along the road

A village in the countryside

A village in the countryside

Traditional rural homes in Ethiopia

Traditional rural homes in Ethiopia

During the drive south, we often found our vehicle surrounded by herds of animals walking slowly between villages. As I love animals, this was a particular treat for me!

People and animals going to market

People and animals going to market

Herd of goats grazing

Herd of goats grazing

Donkeys en route

Donkeys en route

Busy herd of cows

Busy herd of cows

A lazy calf

A lazy calf

We stopped for food in Konso, a small town at the entrance to the Omo Valley. During meals, Ethiopians will give a “gorsha” to show friendship and love. A gorsha is when one person feeds another person with their hand, and I have heard various meanings associated with the number of gorshas given: it is generally signified that one gorsha is for friends, two gorshas are for family and three gorshas are for lovers. Haile, our guide in Southern Ethiopia, told me that gorshas given to women are traditionally 1/3 the size of those given to men… He had obviously never seen me eat before.

Haile and me, eating tibs in Konso

Haile and me, eating tibs in Konso

Me with Adrian, who everyone thought was my husband. If you know us, you know that that is hilarious.

Me with Adrian, who everyone thought was my husband. If you know us, you know that that is hilarious.

While in Jinka, Haile invited us to his family’s house for a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony

Haile with his family

Haile with his family

Me, meeting Haile's little cousin

Me, meeting Haile's little cousin

Sharing the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans

Sharing the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans

Adrian with the family

Adrian with the family

Joshua and his new best friend

Joshua and his new best friend

Smiling, after coffee and popcorn

Smiling, after coffee and popcorn

Up next: photos from Market Day in Jinka and our morning with the crocodiles and hippos!

Much love and many thanks, as always, for reading… xojl

Much love and many thanks, as always, for reading… xojl

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