Ethiopia (AKA The Post About Baboons)

I don't know why it's taken me so long to write about one of my favorite trips. Probably because there were so many things that I loved about it, that it's hard to start telling it all. So I'll give you the short-ish version and some photos instead.

My church has sort of a sister church in Addis Ababa and a group of us travelled over there several years ago to help them get started. While Africa was probably the most exotic place I'd visited to date, I did have quite a bit of travel under my belt by that point.

As opposed to Sara, this sweet Kentucky girl who roomed with me, who had never left the country. Period.

In fact, she'd never even been camping. She'd never had to use the bathroom outdoors. So I love that this girl picks ETHIOPIA to cut her travel/adventure teeth.

But it did not come without mishap.

While we were on safari, Sara had such a hard time dealing with the idea of peeing outdoors, that she had to use a portable toilet seat that she brought with her from the U.S.

I didn't even know they made such things. But here's Sara, in the middle of Awash National Park, among lions and tigers and monkeys -- sitting on a toilet seat propped up by two metal legs attached.

I cheered for her when she finally had success.

We'll get back to her shortly.

So I've alluded to baboons several times. Not that they were a huge part of entire trip, we actually did quite a few different things throughout our time there including swimming in natural hot springs (where someone passed out), building an elderly woman's mud hut (where I vomitted up my malaria pill), and visiting one of the most exquisite hotels I had ever seen, right there in the midst of poverty in Addis (where I ran into, no joke, members of President Bush's staff that I recognized and later found out that he was on his way there for an AIDS initiative summit. Internal Homing Device! SO ridiculous...)

but one of my favorite parts of the trip was that safari. We rode around on top of SUVs, seeing animals I'd never even heard of, then camped out in the national park and literally could hear lions breathing at night. And also sharing our camp, were many baboons. So many, that we had to have armed guards protect our belongings because apparently baboons are natural theives. They did manage to get away with some of our things but they were so entertaining to watch, we really didn't mind. What we did mind though?

They pooped on one of us.

Guess which unsuspecting American was the lucky one?

Sara. The Virgin Traveller. Of course she was their target.

So that added to the safari fun. We also took a day and saw some of the tribes that live far outside the city. Many of the people in these tribes had never seen a white person before so you can imagine what a scene it was for all of us to meet. And who was their favorite white person?

Yep. Sara!

I didn't mentioned that Sara is nearly translucent. She has pale blonde hair, blue eyes, and skin color akin to a snowman.

These people were facinated by Sara. I look around and she is being swarmed, with people staring at her and touching her in awe.

Ha! This girl is never going on a trip again.

The last adventure I'll mention did not, however, so much directly affect Sara as it did - our pastor.

To give you a hint, his blog post title from that day was this:

Ethiopia: Held at Gunpoint

Ahem. So he admits that was a little over dramatic, but basically what happened was we stopped for lunch along the road and our pastor and assistant pastor start videoing a herd of cattle ("Zebus" - they were everywhere!) and discover that the locals expect payment for photography. Long story short, my pastor ended up with an AK-47 pointed at him before handing money to the shepherd and getting the heck out of there. (You can read his account here). I managed to get a pic right around the time of altercation here:

I've posted several more pics below. Enjoy!