First of all I know it’s hard describe the mixture os feelings and thoughts that are in my brain after 2 weeks in Ethiopia with the excuse of run the first edition of Ethiotrail, the National Trail Championship of this country (the town of the runners) in Abijatta-Shalla National Park.
In this post I talk about the experience in the country not the race because I have written this another post about that.
The country is a mixture of huge contrasts. As soon you are seeing a poor place where people don’t lose their smile as you can see impressive and beautiful places barely inhabited that makes you drool and make you smile. As soon you see women and children working hard as men watching the sky resting below a tree. As soon you see tribes taking care of all their members as the capital city with people fending without any help.
But there are two things that define the country perfectly: Ethiopians are people that are very hospitable, work hard in tough conditions and never give up and lose their smile.
I watched in wonder as the different religions live in harmony with churches of various faiths just 100 meters away. We have to think about that.
You can see people explaining the history of his country proud and very excited because you understand it well thanking your effort to visit his coming country where few people go. Special mention here for a visit we made to a village which not many foreign people must come, judging by his reaction and reception, where we taught their dances and traditional sports and took a delicious coffee with popcorn and a local soda taking them just enough to get by. But the most chilling and we all have been recorded and thanked us we made a donation to the community: a ritual of gratitude that left us the creeps and a tear in our cheeks. I can not describe with words how we felt that moment.
I’m not going to lie, I felt so helpless on many occasions. Poverty around us wherever we were with children over 3 years barefoot and almost naked asking for money. Women carrying bundles of wood for many kilometers along the roads and highways, children tending cattle and transporting raw material in donkey-drawn carts, markets raised in real landfills, metal houses everywhere, dirty water …
On the other hand you can see beautiful landscapes that few people imagine that there can be in such a country and although many people do not know is one of the countries with the largest World Heritage Sites by UNESCO unity. We visited several of them as Tiya, Fasil Ghebi, region of Gondar and the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.
And what about the food? Well, quite simple but nutritious food and obviously based on raw materials such as corn, eggs, coffee, bread (I love the Injera) and in our case pasta for the race. One important thing, take bottled water because the opposite is the easiest way to catch diseases. All food are seasoned with spices and hot sauces, careful sensitive stomachs.
And I want to stress the security of the country where we have never felt the slightest sense of insecurity.
I leave the photo album with a first approach to what I have just described because a picture is worth a thousand words, but in short I can say that Ethiopia is a country with green and magical landscapes, people working hard that not give up despite the difficulties of the context, with a great sense of community and very hospitable.
As a curiosity I turned years in Addis Ababa and RIA had a great detail that surprised me because they got a birthday cake to celebrate in such a distant place from my home an already unforgettable birthday. THANKS.
The trip was organized by Run in Africa and as an advance that to be a first edition of the event and the trip, the overall result is good. Personally all I’ve lived on the trip compensate the logistics failures that you can wait in a country unused to such events and suffered lack of coordination between local agencies and RIA which made a great effort to correct such errors in situ getting everything out in the end. In fact I want to stress the friendly group of people. Trip partners that for sure will be friends. I also thank Martha Kaleab, and Guillermo Antonio RIA and our dear drivers, especially Israel.
Notably, 15% of the cost of the trip was donated directly to various local NGOs for projects carried out in schools and that much of the work done for the race were held by people living within the park, including the medal and the runner bag. We also participated in a project in person planting trees in an area that needed it.
Finally I want to thank especially to the great champion and best person Gebregziabher Gebremariam, who keep an eye on us at all times during the trip and was a perfect host. And I could not miss a salute to our awesome coach / pacemaker who guided us the day before the race for the same path, Josef Teka who I wish him well in his career.
This is only a preview of what I felt on the trip. You can see a video about the race in the following post Ethiotrail 2014 – The Race