Ahhh, that was a nice little hiatus. Thanks for bearing with me. I know you were drumming your fingers impatiently on your desk all this time. While I hopped around to four different countries and completely wore myself out.
First, Peter and I went to Rwanda. As you do.
But really: Peter and I met a Rwandan (or Rwandese, as they say there) police officer a few years ago, and he invited us to visit. We figured we had better go before he forgot who we were. We also rounded up Rod, whom some of you may remember as our exceptionally great and extroverted travel partner on previous adventures.
It was my first visit to not-North Africa, and I can’t recommend the place highly enough. FWIW, Peter and Rod had been to Kenya before; they both liked Rwanda more. Which, I know, it’s not a contest. But in terms of traveling logistics and concerns, Rwanda has its act together: secure, clean and tasty food.
Don’t go to Rwanda if you’re a penny-pinching backpacker, though. Hotels in Kigali are pricey (we paid $50 for a private room at the hostel; everything else was $70+) and getting around by bus might be tricky. (We got escorted around in a car, which is just not like us.)
And, let’s be honest, Rwanda is not looking for backpacker tourists and doesn’t really want to help them out. Rwanda wants the tourists who will pay big bucks to go visit the mountain gorillas.
Which is not me and Peter. Our cop friend we were visiting did say the gorillas were amazing, and we should go. But it’s $750 per person, and besides, I just feel a little bad bothering them. My general approach to ecotourism is extreme: nature will be better off if I don’t go visit it.
I’ll do a separate post with some more details. Suffice to say for now, we thought we would have “done” it in a week, but I am already plotting my return.
From Kigali, Peter, Rod and I all flew to Addis Ababa. As you do.
This was partly because Ethiopian Airlines was the best way to get to Abu Dhabi (long story; it involves frequent-flyer miles, so I won’t bore you). But it was also because Peter and I have both loved Ethiopian food since forever. And Ethiopian music. So why not stop?
Before we left Kigali, our police officer friend’s wife warned us that Addis would be a rough transition. “It is very dirty,” she sniffed. “Lots of chaos.” After being in pristine and orderly Rwanda, I figured any place would be.
But, whoa. Addis felt like Cairo circa 1992. The taxis are Ladas. The pollution is bad. The street kids are frenzied and miserable and one of them yoinked Rod’s phone right out of his pocket (but was clumsy and dropped it, so Rod got it back).
But our Bradt guidebook said of Addis that “its bark is worse than its bite,” which I think is a rather sweet assessment. And after a couple of days, I could see this was true.
It helped that, ohmygod, they really do eat Ethiopian food in Ethiopia. I will get to this in more detail.
From Addis, we flew to the UAE. In the morning, we were in a Lada taxi with smoke coming up through the floorboards. In the afternoon, we were in a leather-interior late-model Audi, being whisked along the smooth, straight highway from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Totally disconcerting. We were so wiped out, we slept through our entire Etihad business-class flight. Rats.
We landed in Bangkok, third and final leg of the trip. If there’s one thing this trip taught me, it’s that three countries is just too damn many. I don’t know how people do the steady-nomad thing and still absorb anything. I’m glad I’ve been to Bangkok before (was this our third trip? or fourth?), because if it had been my first, I would’ve just collapsed in the street.
Peter’s mother met us, and she kept us moving–without her, we would’ve flopped by the pool at the Atlanta Hotel.
But, as a result, I came home and needed to flop around some more. Traveling thoroughly accompanied for three-plus weeks was exhausting. I did a lot of sitting on the couch and staring into space.
Then I went to Costa Rica for about ten days and stared into space some more.
And here we are. Finally. More details to come, folks.