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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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How good to migrate anew everyday. And how beautiful to settle anew everyday.
– Rumi, via Dream and Reality at Istanbul Modern

November in Arba Mich, Ethiopia

November in Arba Minch, Ethiopia

It is sunrise here in Istanbul, and I find myself awake and listening to the sounds of a distant mosque’s call to morning prayer.  Lying in bed and scrolling through my photos, I am overwhelmed by how lucky I am to be able to travel around the world and do what I love for a living.

I am truly grateful for the experiences I have had…

Turkish coffee with a friend in the Tophane District of Istanbul, Turkey

Coffee with a friend in the Tophane District of Istanbul, Turkey

Evenings in Arba Minch, Ethiopia

Evenings in Arba Minch, Ethiopia

the people I have met…

the people I have met…

Market Day in Jinka, Ethiopia

Market Day in Jinka, Ethiopia

Outside a family home in Ethiopia's Omo Valley

Outside a family home in Ethiopia's Omo Valley

Ethiopia's Hammer Tribe

Ethiopia's Hammer Tribe

the beautiful things I have seen…

the beautiful things I have seen…

"Bridge of God" in southern Ethiopia

"Bridge of God" in southern Ethiopia

Baboons outside of the Ethiopian Crocodile Market

Baboons outside of the Ethiopian Crocodile Market

Donkeys on the road to Konso, Ethiopia

Donkeys on the road to Konso, Ethiopia

Sand sculptures on the beach in Durban, South Africa

Sand sculptures on the beach in Durban, South Africa

and all of the wonderful work I am privileged to do.

and all of the wonderful work I am privileged to do.

Gathering for an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony & teaching women how to use a Female Condom

Gathering for an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony & educating women about the Female Condom

Taking questions on stage in my CONDOMIZE Zone at ICASA 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Taking questions on stage in my CONDOMIZE Zone at ICASA 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

And with gratitude for your loving support and kind attention…

With gratitude for your loving support and kind attention –

More from me soon.  xojl

More from me soon. xojl

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I love hearing from you –
post your questions & comments here,
circa anytime.  You can also
Like me on Facebook & Follow me on Twitter!

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