This morning a I went hiking up a large hill (aka mountain) behind Hope University College with a few of my colleagues. It rained earlier in the day, so the trail (?) was very muddy and slippery, dotted with rocks and puddles. My right foot has been very painful recently, so I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to do the hike, or, if I could, I’d be moving so slowly that I would slow everyone down.
But, I thought I would give it a try.
And I am so glad I did. I didn’t make it all the way up the hill / mountain because of the pain, but I did make it up about 1,500 feet, to a small but beautiful orthodox Christian church, built on a clearing.
The view, as you might expect, was beautiful. Before us lay Addis Ababa, a developing capital of Africa, with modern housing complexes mixed with mud houses and old buildings. In the distance, a brewing storm, and the outlying hills were hugged by churches just like the one we were standing next to.
My favorite part of the hike was not the view (which was incredible), but the people that we met up and down the mountain. We were greeted by children, villagers, priests, and donkeys. We had our picture taken, because when do you see a group of ferengi (white people) stomping up the hill. We practiced our Amharigna with locals who wanted to practice their English. I loved every minute of it.
Nowhere was their a Starbucks or an interest in high fashion. These people sent their donkey down for water and cooking oil. Their lives were lived each day as each day. With family. On the land and with the land.
A few months ago I listened to a talk by Father Sundberg at Seattle University. He spoke about how he looks at travel. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here) thAt traveling to different parts of the world allow a person to “complete his or her humanity.” Each of us lives in our own part of the world, with our own world view. Seeing how others live their lives gives us a more full understanding of how life functions, and how people experience the world.