Two weeks from today I will start my long journey to Ethiopia. If you count that I started on this adventure more than a year ago, it's more than just a long journey. It's an epic adventure!
Lots of things are the same this time around. Training still poses challenges both in carving out the time and in getting this old body not to ache so much after each run. The State Department has issued warnings to Americans in or traveling to Ethiopia, warning us to avoid large gatherings (do 35,000 runners count as a large gathering?) and the Bole area of Addis Ababa (my hotel, the Sidra, appears to be Bole area's ground zero). I'm once again recovering from the loss of a parent. My mother passed away in September, following my father by 11 months. What's different? Self Help Africa seems not particularly concerned about the state department warnings. This time around I am the only American traveling which means that the flights to and from will be really long and lonely, but also unencumbered. Solitude is sometimes just what I need. I will be leaving my husband caring for only one child - the other being off at college and more or less pretending we don't exist.
For some reason, I need the trip this year even more than last. In addition to losing my mother, I am adjusting to having less time with my college student son, who also happens to be one of my best friends. My workplace and my job seem to be in a significant amount of upheaval. My Ethiopian daughter is one year older and that much more curious about where she comes from, geographically and culturally. My marriage is in a very strange place, no doubt influenced somewhat by all this other stuff going on, but certainly with it's own intrinsic issues. I'm questioning how I want to navigate all of this, where I want to end up, how I want to invest my time and energy along the way.
So what better way to respond than to travel across the globe to an area I'm warned by my government to avoid to run among 35,000 runners at an altitude I'm not trained for? Seems like a logical decision to me...