Search the alphabet travelogs

Working my way through the alphabet, one country at a time



How did Ethiopia happen?  Well, I have a dear friend that works for Engage Now Africa and they are building a school in the village of Yerer in June.  And I’m on the letter “E” so what else could I do but participate?  I informed the organization that I’m turning sixty in June and hope I can be helpful. They responded by telling me there are several 70-year olds on the expedition!

I’ve been to St. Luke’s Travel Medicine Clinic which was a new experience.  It’s most helpful because in addition to getting the required immunizations–DPT, Hep A, typhoid, meningococcal, etc.–the nurse practitioner talks with you specifically about the region you’re visiting.  I met with Kathy Hite who shared great advice.  She said “prepare for your heart to be broken and filled and broken again.”  She said it would be heartbreaking to see the living conditions of the people but my heart would be filled because the people are so appreciative and loving.  And then my heart will break again when I have to leave my new Ethiopian friends.

I realized this will be a very different experience for me when I read the following:  “Once you arrive in Africa, ONLY drink bottled water or carbonated drinks where you have removed the top personally.”  Not so surprising, but then this: “Please wash off the tops of beverage container before use.”  WOW.  Not only must I drink bottled water, but I have to sanitize the bottle before I drink it!

I’ve been accumulating a stash of travel items.  The recommended insect repellant must have 35% deet and there’s a bug spray for CLOTHES! I can spray before packing, so I got one of those packing cubes because I’m sure they’ll stink! I’m armed with Imodium for travelers’ diarrhea and antibiotics in case it gets worse.  I’ve got melatonin for jet lag and antibacterial wipes for my bottled water.  Oh, and a roll of toilet paper for use in the village (yikes–I hope I don’t get diarrhea).

There are items needed for donation.  If anyone wants to contribute I’ll be happy to pick your donations up before I leave for Los Angeles on May 27.  Please contact me as soon as possible.  Here’s the list.

*Educational visual aids of all varieties from Kindergarten to High School level.  Posters, maps and other items typically hung in a classroom.  Please laminate all posters to preserve them.

*Chalk and erasers

*Reading and reference books are wonderful if weight permits

*Flash cards and simple educational games for teachers to use

*Soccer balls, bubbles, finger nail polish, jump ropes, flip flops, hair accessories and other items to play and interact with children

Wish me luck.  This is unlike anything I’ve ever done but I’m very excited!

Rhonda Sarantis

Rhonda Sarantis

"She's crazy and loud but she loves you!" That's what they tell my infant granddaughter to prepare her for my visit, so I thought it would be a great way to prepare you. And while I may not always be crazy or loud, one thing is always true: I LOVE people. That's at the heart of my passion for travel. I love getting to know people from different cultures who speak different languages, eat different food, have different ideas and opinions. I'm endlessly curious and make a point of reading about the countries I visit. Instead of saying "that's not how WE do it," I enjoy identifying strengths in diverse cultures, and learning about their way of life. I LOVE road trips! I have great memories of monthlong vacations growing up. Dad always had a van--before they were popular--and invited anybody who wanted to join us. My road trips within the United States will be featured in "The Lower Case Travelogs." Be sure to buckle your seat belt. I execute illegal u-turns if a bakery or estate sale is spotted!

Lalibela, Ethiopia

Ethiopian Orthodox Church

The Queen of Sheba

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Debre Zyet, Ethiopia

Yerer, Ethiopia

1 Comment

  • Amy Bell

    I keep thinking of you and watching for updates when you get back to coverage. What a wonderful adventure!

    June 5, 2016 at 4:00 am