Musings on my travels in Ethiopia 🇪🇹

The second last stop on our Africa tour has brought us to beautiful Ethiopia!

The most hyped up country of all 4 (Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia and Kenya), and with a forecasted GDP growth spurt of 8.2% (Taken from the WorldBank.org website) in 2018 I must say that my expectations were high. I was expecting to step onto a buzzing metropolis in the making…. but, not quite.

Now I’m not saying that Ethiopia is not growing, from the areas I have visited in Addis Ababa, I can certainly say that of the 4 countries, Addis had the most developments. You cannot drive longer than 1km without seeing a new development and this is a great sign for things to come from an economic growth, opportunity and expansion perspective. However, right now and into the next 3 years, I don’t believe there would have been enough time for a shift. Maybe in the next 5 to 10 years.

Because Ethiopia is still highly regulated by the law of the ruling government, foreign investment is highly regulated, barriers to entry for outsiders are high and major industries such as Banking and Telecommunications are monopolized. Historically, there has been limited to no support from the local government in order to support entrepreneurs, drive competition, increase the literacy rate as well as employment but the sudden increase in foreign interest should change this and hopefully make the Government realize the importance of working with investors and using the opportunity for the advantage of its people.

From a general, tourist perspective I could say that Addis has a quasi Mediterranean quasi Middle Eastern feel to it. Extremely dry air and dusty roads will make you feel like you’re walking/driving through the streets of Athens, Greece and the local culture, language and aesthetic of the natives has an Arabic sand dunes feel to it.

I was grateful to also have some time to try out the local cuisine which I though was simply divine and completely exceeded my expectations.

And of course…. COFFEE!

All in all, being in Ethiopia was an incredibly insightful experience and I cannot wait to see the country grow and establish itself as a powerhouse in Africa. It is certainly open for business and one to look out for in the near future.

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Musings on my travels in Ghana 🇬🇭

Although practically neighboring countries, Ghana and Nigeria were like night and day.

Where Nigerians where boisterous and welcoming, I found Ghanaians to be more reserved and relaxed…

In terms of infrastructure, Ghana had a stark difference when it came to the developed vs underdeveloped areas. Where it was Commercial and westernized, you couldn’t tell the difference between being somewhere in Joburg or Accra; and where it was underdeveloped/ informal, you could absolutely see.

Airport

You don’t need Protocol here 😂

Temperature

It’s humid but slightly more bearable than Nigeria, the heat however is intense!

Food

Food in Ghana was quite different to Nigeria. I found Ghanaian food to be more nutritious as there was a variety of fresh vegetables and spices in all the meals I had, and boy did I go in with the local food!

Closing comments

Ghana was a much more chilled and orderly country. Where in Nigeria distinguishing between poor, middle and upper class was near impossible, in Ghana you could see it.

So, which country do I prefer between the two? Hands down Nigeria!!! It’s still so rugged and so African which I loved and my soul resonated so much with that. Ghana was too easy and comfortable for me so I didn’t find it as stimulating/ entertaining.

Ghanaian informal markets were my highlight so far on the trip. The experience made me really appreciate and count the blessings in my life and also gave me a new found respect for how hard-working Ghanaians are. No matter how developed the country becomes, none of the natives have forgotten their roots, they trust and believe in their local market as well as what it has to offer which I think is beautiful and truly African.

Quick thoughts about traveling to Nigeria 🇳🇬

If you follow me on any of my social media accounts you would have noticed that I’m currently on a trip around a few countries in Africa for the next few weeks.

I wanted to share some thoughts while on the road to answer some of the questions I’ve been getting so far around Nigeria and I think it would be great to do this for the other countries, compare notes of the different experiences and share my perspective as I go.

The airport

So I went to the part of Nigeria called Lagos State. My frame of reference for the post will be derived from this. I have never been to any other state and there is a possibility that you may have had a different experience to mine due to geographical location, ruling tribes, size, etc.

The first thing you will most definitely notice when you depart from plane is the humidity. Given that I arrived at Murtala Muhammad Airport, although it’s situated in the Mainland, it’s really close to the Islands and the ocean and it’s positioning near the equator makes for hot and humid temperature. If you’ve been to Dubai, it’s not as hot, if you’ve been to Duran, it’s more humid and I hear it’s quite similar to Thailand in terms of it being constantly overcast, but that could just be the time of year Im traveling in.

The second thing I can guarantee you’ll notice is the chaos. You walk out of the plane into the airport and it’s like you’ve just walked into the twilight zone. EVERYONE is shouting at you and each other, running somewhere (I guess to collect their bags at the carousel) but you will notice, it’s vibrant and it’s buzzing.

You then get to passport control and you wish to die. It’s the longest queue, there’s no aircon, never mind a fan. Natives are shouting (again) at you and each other, there’s a tribal “war” that can subtly be noticed between the men controlling the different areas and the ones trying to escort you through the “priority lane” and the faster you wish to leave the more frustrating it will get.

My experience was made so much more bearable as I had some company and Protocol (invest in protocol!!!!). We quickly adjusted to the chaos and realized the possibilities of being stuck at the airport for at least another 4 hours and started cracking jokes about Malaria and some local celebrities we had flown in with.

Top 2 tips here:

Do not check in any bag. You won’t find it at the carousel

If it’s your first time, organise Protocol, if not to and from the hotel, just get it for your arrival- it can be intimidating as a first timer.

On the way to the hotel

Okay, the one thing I must tell you here is that there is traffic in Lagos at any given time. I arrived at around 8pm local time and there was backed up traffic on the highway that I spotted as we were landing. The trip to the hotel was 28km away, Thank God for Protocol who moved all the traffic aside for our driver. It’s great.

The food

Definitely my take outs in this section are the restaurant in Lagos called The Lagoon where I tried some cheese naan, grilled crayfish and jollof rice. The view was incredible and reminded me so much of Venice and the grand canal. The company was also fantastic!

I also had time to sneak in some Cold Stone ice cream which was just Devine and totally worth all the calories!

Night life

What happens in Lagos stays in Lagos

Closing thoughts

Lagos by far exceeded my expectations. As I write this post in Ghana, I can definitely reflect and say although very loud, Nigerians are way more fun, out there and friendlier than Ghanaians (and they make the best Jollof rice 😂). I had a great time, made more friends than I can count, and my fellow Jordies made it incredibly memorable.

Guest Post: My travel, my truth (tips for traveling with and without friends)

Travel
Photo by STIL on Unsplash

I have been privileged enough to travel overseas twice on someone else’s budget. My first overseas trip was to the USA in 2014 and my second trip took me all the way to Portugal in Europe.

On my first trip, I had 9 other companions and we were all friends so there was no doubt that it was going to be fun. All of us were heavily involved and committed to making the process perfect. Upon arrival, we were mandated to be in Boston for 4 days for a Young Leader’s Summit, but hey! We were finally in ‘Merica and we absolutely could not let this opportunity pass us by without some kind of exploration.

We had a grand ol’ time in Boston but as fate and “the spirit of YOLO” would have it, we made a pit stop in NEW YORK, (yes NEW YORK CITY the big apple) and boy was it magical!

Friends
Trip to ‘Merica with my friends

TRAVELLING WITH FRIENDS

There is something special in travelling with friends. A dynamic you can’t really attain when you travel with family or work acquaintances. Here are some of the elements I found most enjoyable when travelling with people who are your friends:

  • Flexible itinerary– having the freedom to change the itinerary depending on how everyone feels that day with no hard feelings.
  • Prior planning– we knew how much it would cost if we were to go to every tourist attraction in NY and Boston.
  • Work hard play harder– we made time for work and time for fun. We also made time for people to rest when they needed to.
  • Friends bring familiarity and some sort of security– traveling to a different country can be overwhelming but having people you can call “friends” brings a sense of calmness and adventure.
  • Shared interests– Prior conversations around the trip ensured that expectations were laid out. We all knew what each of us wanted out of the experience and it was so comforting when the boys made time for the girls to do some shopping ☺
  • Picture perfect– We all wanted to share every moment so we became each other’s professional photographers.

I do not believe that these benefits would have been as prominent had I travelled with individuals with whom I did not share a common interest. So this trip really set the bar high in terms of how I would like to experience traveling in the future.

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Musings in Portugal

My second travelling experience was pretty interesting… I had an opportunity to travel again, but this time it was to Europe for a work conference.  I was tasked with hosting 4 delegates who would also be attending the same conference I was going to and had little to no time to plan my itinerary. So here I was with 4 complete strangers and a colleague in Portugal. FUN. To make matters worse, unlike with the USA trip, I didn’t know much about Portugal except that Cristiano Ronaldo, the famous football star was born there. Despite all of this the extrovert in me remained optimistic and hoped for the experience to turn into another perfect opportunity to make lifelong friends (Boy could I have been more wrong…. haha).

TRAVELLING WITH ACQUAINTANCES

The city was beautiful and there was so much to do and explore but because the sense of “shared interest” and of familiarity which I spoke about earlier was kinda missing, the trip was a complete dud. Looking back on my experience I would say there are definitely some key learnings and take outs. It is possible to have fun travelling with acquaintances and here is what you can look out for in order to ensure the greatest time:

  • Preparation is KING– but also leave some room for spontaneity. Have a plan in place but also allow yourself to be moved by adventure. The last thing you want to experience when traveling is the monster called frustration.
  • Understand the most optimal means of transportation in your destination AND ENSURE YOU ARE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE ABOUT THE DECISION- you know why? So you avoid that thing again, frustration :).
  • Have a budget and communicate this with others around you so you all can participate in things that will leave you breathless ☺.
  • Pre travel drinks– If you will be traveling with people who are not your friends, make some time for a quick hangout over drinks so you get familiar and understand expectations.
  • Have fun– try to make the most out of any situation; after all you’re stuck together in that country, truly be open-minded.

Traveling is priceless it enables you to take a pause from your normal life and experience how other people live. The benefit truly outweighs the cost. After all, “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” So it’s okay to go beyond how you regulate your life on a daily basis but travel with people who will make the experience unforgettable.

Girl traveling

                                                                                           Guest Post Author: Faith Tembe

Faith Tembe is a vibrant young professional with a passion for purpose driven work.

She holds an honours degree in Industrial Psychology and currently doing a Masters of Management in Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation.

She draws her experience from the corporate environment with specific focus on Innovation and Transformation management.