I Am With You

I’m down to my last few days in “Hope-ia” as my youngest son calls Ethiopia. I will have a busy day helping students with their animations tomorrow so will just post a few photos from the week so far.

First up, this is my walk to the university each morning, at least it was for the last ten days. Now that Lucrezia has gone back to Rome and since I promised my family on two continents that I wouldn’t stay alone in her apartment, I’m now at a hotel just a bit across town.

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I know that at first glance it seems quite rough around the edges. The reality is that this neighborhood is probably safer than some of the cities I visit when I’m in the US. The main crime around here when it happens is petty theft and pickpockets rather than shootings or violent crime. Still, it’s probably best to not walk around alone at night.

Below is the dog and his masters who guard Lucrezia’s apartment block daily.

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On Monday afternoon this week, one of my students who actually is a quite successful TV producer here, Okubay, gave myself and Lucrezia a tour of his studio. This is us on the roof and the surrounding view.

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Yesterday I had lunch with the Film School’s director Bekele, Lucrezia, and Fitsum, a talented artist who has won a two year scholarship to study at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore this January.

The restaurant was near the National Museum and is called… Lucy Gazebo Restaurant. Yes, those would be the bones of Lucy, our ancient ancestor on the menu cover.



Today during our coffee break, we took a few more photos as some students who are following this daily blog as well wanted to see themselves represented. Hey! I was going to get everyone eventually. Chigger Yellum! (No problem.)


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Finally today I came back to Lucrezia’s apartment just to pack and make a quick lunch. I was intercepted though by Emu, Lucrezia’s cleaning lady who insisted on cooking for me. She also invited me to her home on Friday and wants to show me some more of the city.

She’s a kind and gentle soul who put her hand on her heart and told me, “I’m with you.”



She inspired me to write on my Facebook wall: “Breaking News: Billions of people all over the world were kind and decent to each other today.”

I’ve read that Ethiopians are friendly but a bit cynical/wary of others and their intentions. I have seen a little bit of cynicism that is really no different than good ole’ American sarcasm. But here eyes seem to gleam a little brighter, faces are a bit more transparent, and good will and kindness, even to a goofy faranji (foreigner) is overwhelmingly the norm.


Read the next blog post in this series.