First Impressions


Ethiopia is an ancient, enigmatic land, known for its endemic drought and famine, but also famous for its long distance runners. I knew this much when I went to the country in 2016, but nothing could have prepared me for the multitude of scenes that assault the senses as soon as the airport is left behind. The primitive lifestyle of so many of its inhabitants is at once unexpected but engaging to the Australian eye. Taking a photograph seemed at times insulting or degrading to the subject, yet without the lens on the life how could I explain it? The man and child above and the woman below lingered in my mind long after I took the photos.


I was kept busy – a teacher who had been out of the classroom for years – preparing lessons, learning names, adjusting to compound life and meeting the expectations of the complex Cambridge syllabus. I was rather like one of the large tortoises (below) that lumbered around the compound. Sometimes I wanted to retreat inside my shell and stay there!


I was a writer and I wanted to leave Ethiopia with a story. In my next blog I shall share a couple of the quick short snapshot stories I wrote about life in Addis Ababa and beyond in Ethiopia.

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