Word is out: we’re travelling to East-Africa in December! It’ll be a new continent to visit together. A big next step in the relationship, right? Especially if it’s a same-sex relationship. But let me tell you: we have some very good reasons to. It’s not just an East-African country we’ll travel to: it’s Ethiopia!

Ethiopia Facts

・ One of the oldest nations in the world (founded in 980 B.C.)
・ Where coffee was first discovered (in the Kaffa region)!
・ Home to the Blue Nile: one of the two large feeders of the longest river in the world, River Nile
・ Rastafari began in Ethiopia, then Jamaica made it big
・ Where the earliest known ancestor of modern humans (3 million years old!) was found: Lucy
・ Home to the unofficial 8th wonder of the world: the rock-cut monolithic churches in Lalibela
・ One of two nations in the world that was never formally colonised (Russia is the other one)
・ Ethiopian food – injera – is delicious
・ My little brother was born here! (oops, spoiler alert)

Injera, sourdough-risen flatbread, traditionally made of teff flour, the national dish of Ethiopia
Injera, the national dish of Ethiopia

A Family Affair

We’d say the entire list makes a good argument to go to Ethiopia, but the last one alone makes a great one, am I right? My little brother (16) is Ethiopian (note: Ethiopian boy in the cover picture is not my brother), although in Ethiopia often confused for ferenji (foreigner in Amharic) with his European look, and especially the hair. He doesn’t see Ethiopia as his homeland (that’s definitely the Netherlands, he says), but “as a great destination for a holiday”.

Family of six with adopted Ethiopian son
Happy family of six!

It never is just a vacation of course, as it’s the country where his roots are, where he lived for two years & travelled back to twice already. It’s also where his other (biological) parents live, although we learnt about them being alive way later. It’s a very long story. If you can read Dutch, you’re lucky: you can read my mom’s books about it: Nieuwe BloemDappere Jongen.

Long Story Short

If you’re not Dutch I’ll recap it in a few sentences: through a couple of seemingly coincidental events (later we call it fate), my mom learns the death reports of my brother’s biological parents are forged. Yet another adoption case that isn’t clean (believe me, there are many). My mom decides to do something not many adoptive parents would do: she sets up a search to find my brother’s biological mother. A long search and DNA test later, the mother is found. After our first return-trip to Ethiopia, my little brother wants to know more about his father too. So my mum does what a good mum does: she listens. Another long search and DNA test later, the father is found and that’s when we went for another trip! He didn’t even know he was a father.

So quite the story! I was thinking of making a documentary about it, but so far I haven’t gotten any further than collecting & shooting some important moments in the process. But stay tuned!

Foster home Addis Abeba, Ethiopia 2004
Foster home Addis Abeba, 2004

A Trip Through North Ethiopia

During our previous trips, we’ve done much more than family reunions. In 2004 (the year my brother is adopted) we only stayed in the capital: Addis Abeba. Besides visiting the huge open-air marketplace Addis Merkato, the National Museum and the foster home where my brother lived, we didn’t see much (I mean, my two sisters and I were still little children, so bravo to our parents for handling the trip this great). The real fun started with our trip in December 2012!

the Obelisk of Axum, Aksum, Ethiopia

We pretty much followed the most popular itinerary in Ethiopia, that includes the top tourist attractions: rock-cut monolithic churches in Lalibela, the Obelisk of Axum, royal castles in Gondar, and Lake Tana in Bahir Dar. In just two weeks we fly all over the country and see everything. And we loved it (except that everyone got VERY sick in Bahir Dar).

Church of Saint George, famous rock-cut monolithic church in Lalibela, Ethiopia

A Trip To The South

In December 2015 we took the road (or sometimes off-road) less travelled. We travel towards the south and see hundreds of flamingos in Abijiata Shala Wild Life Park, relax at Lake Langano, experience the weirdest smell at the Awassa fish market, see (& hear) hyenas in Yirgalem, hike in Hassani forest and learn a lot about fake banana plants. We see more wildlife in Senkele Wild Life Park in Arba Minch, go to a traditional Dorze village, spot crocodiles and hippos on Lake Chamo. Unfortunately, we had to cancel our trip to Bale mountains because of some violent protests in that area. But in the end, these were an amazing two weeks again and it totally set me up for a world trip!

Traditional coffee ceremony, Yirgalem, Ethiopia
Traditional coffee ceremony

Hundreds of flamingos in Abijiata Shala Wild Life Park, Ethiopia

Our Upcoming Trip

“Nothing happens the same way twice, dear one”
– Narnia

Our upcoming trip will be different from all the other ones. The first trip was with the entire family, the second and third were without my dad (yup, they divorced). This fourth time there will be some +1’s! Roxanne and I will travel to Ethiopia together from Asia and meet up with my brother, sisters & my mum + boyfriend. We’ll meet up with my brother’s other parents and we are going to explore a new part of the country: Simian Mountains!

rock-cut monolithic churches in Lalibela, Ethiopia

Is It Safe To Travel to Ethiopia?

It’s all very exciting, but we also have some (extra) concerns this time. Homosexuality in Ethiopia is illegal and punished with a prison sentence. Funny enough, Ethiopian men hold hands all the time. During our last trip I noticed that and asked our driver if they were a couple, he simply stated that homosexuality doesn’t exist in Ethiopia. Also when travelling in Russia, we noticed that people believe it doesn’t exist in their circles and therefore have no idea how to recognise it. To prepare ourselves a bit better, we’ve reached out to other queers who’ve travelled to Ethiopia. Their stories so far are surprisingly great. So we’ll be careful, but we’ll choose joy over worry! And we’ll definitely share our experiences with you regarding travelling as a lesbian couple in Ethiopia.

Have you been to Ethiopia? Share your tips with us in the comments!

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Why Are We Travelling To East-Africa? | Once Upon A Journey LGBT Travel Blog #africa #ethiopia #eastafrica #adoption #lgbt #travel