A Message to My Friends in Ethiopia

Nineteen hours. That’s how long it took to get me home. Finally back to the hustle and bustle of city life, to the traffic, to the pollution, to the crowds. To pork, pork, and more pork. To malls and supermarkets. To the beaches. To the heat and humidity. To giant Christmas trees and consumerism. To the once-familiar-but-now-strange sights and smells and sounds. Then reality hit me: I have become a stranger in my own country. I am not the same person who left for Ethiopia almost two years ago.
When the plane landed, I honestly felt I could take the next plane back to Ethiopia. It was all strange to me. The flag was different. The language was different. I somehow missed the Amharic chatter that I have become accustomed to. And no “you, you” or “ferenji, ferenji” this time. I have become anonymous once again. Oh, I think I’m just missing Ethiopia and reverse culture shock has set in!
I am, of course, happy to see and be with my family again . . . after almost two long years. In a few days, I will start meeting up with old friends. I’m taking it slow for now, though, as my body has not yet fully acclimatize. I’ve been sweating like a horse here. The heat is unbearable. Makes me miss the Addis weather, unpleasant as it is. And the humidity is suffocating. My body clock is still working on Ethiopian time, so I sleep at 4 or 5 am until around 10 am when the heat wakes me up.
I was caught in a traffic jam the other day, and I went into panic mode. I almost ran out of the car in the middle of the highway. It was just too overwhelming. Then I went to buy a ticket to use the MRT (subway), but changed my mind at the last minute because I again panicked at the thought of having to push around in a crowd of strangers! Well, to be honest, I also forgot how the system works. Then, I heard Toto’s “Africa” playing on the radio, and I felt a lump forming in my throat. Sigh*
So here I am, trying to make the most of my time with family and friends while I’m busy missing Ethiopia and you, my friends, who have become dear to me. Thank you for making my time in Ethiopia memorable and thank you for touching my life in one way or another. I value the bonds I have made, and I hope we all keep in touch. Who knows, our paths might cross again in the future? The world is getting smaller and smaller, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I bump into you one of these days. If you happen to be in my part of the world, please do drop me a line or two in my inbox. I will be more than glad to host you. So come visit me. The Philippines is beautiful and the people very warm, but you’ll have to see for yourself.
Till we meet again.

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