“Remember where you are!”

My friend Danny said this too me 100 times a day, every time I was shocked by something cultural he would laugh and say “Remember where you are!” Even on my second trip to Ethiopia, I was continually shocked by the vast cultural differences.  They are not good or bad, just so very different.


Here are some things we noticed:

  1. Time:  Not only are they 7-8 hours ahead, but they tell time differently.  Their day starts with 1:00 (which is comparable to our 7:00 a.m.)
  2. Of course the date is different too.  They have 13 months and most times out of the year they are 8 days behind us.  The 13th month is between August and September and it is 8 days long.  It is the year 2003 currently.  New Years Day is September 11, Christmas is January 8…
  3. Directions:  There are no street names/signs or addresses.  I did hear a few names of streets, but no where did I see them actually published….So what if you need directions?  Chiggerellum!  Just stop and ask around, someone will know where you are going.  The will just hop in the car and show you the way themselves.  Even if it means leaving their job at the stationary store to do this!
  4. Toilet paper goes in the trash can.  That is if there is toilet paper
  5. People wear T-shirts with English words or phrases on them, but have no idea what they mean.  For example on T-shirt we saw said “Sex, Drugs, Hot Sausage!”
  6. Food you eat with your fingers, and you are allowed to feed others
  7. Men are often seen walking with arms draped around each other
  8. Rich and poor live side by side

    The RichAnd the next door neighbor

    And the next door neighbor

  9. Goats and cows share the road with taxis, motorcycles and Land Rovers
  10. There are NO traffic rules, really, NONE!  Anything goes.   Here is a link to a video, if you watch the first minute you get the drift of what it is like to drive there… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hl6zRUB-meg
  11. Children are often unattended, walking happily down the street, they seem to be safe.
  12. People just hang out on the road, in the median or sitting on the curb of a busy street.  I even saw a naked baby crawling up and down the curb from the sidewalk to the street ( a busy one!) and no one blinked an eye.
  13. Electricity is not a given
  14. Piles of cement, dirt or rocks may block an entire road.  It is o.k., you just get out and walk the rest of the way.

    Piles of dirt that blocked the road, we walked the rest of the way to our home visit

    Just a few rock, oh and a cow... we don't need to go that way...

  15. No Diet Coke
  16. People touch

    Jill and I having a loving moment

  17. People are genuine
  18. You never meet a stranger
  19. Generosity abounds, even among impoverished

    A young toddler sharing her food with her sister at the feeding program

  20. Even though I feel Ethiopian in my heart, my hair does not work in braids.

The extension blend right in don't they?


One thought on ““Remember where you are!”

  1. Don’t forget…
    1. Driver use their horns frequently, but very politely. Just a quiet tap to let you know they are there.
    2. Drinks are opened and poured for you…and if you are lucky you get to touch if first to make sure it is cold enough (which it never is)
    3. If you can come up with a job that allows you to hire someone, you do…which means umbrella holders at restaurants!
    4. Windows are always open and there are no screens. Flies on your food is not a reason to close the windows.

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