Home at the Source of the Nile

My windows are wide open tonight. The short rains are almost upon us and almost every night, we see lightning illuminating the night sky in the distance while clusters of stars shine bright directly above. The air is fresh and pure. The smell of approaching weather. Can you smell the rain? The smell of fresh earth and a light wind. It’s one of my favourite memories. Approaching thunderstorms in Ontario. Especially in the middle of the night, when I would sneak downstairs, open the door wide open and smell with all my might.

Here in Bahir Dar the smell is fresh and clean tonight. It’s not always the case. Sometimes I am woken up to the smell of our neighbours burning garbage and the air is smokey and raw. But tonight, there is newness in the air and the city is quiet. It is cold. Around 8 or 10 degrees at night and I’m glad to be in bed with a blanket to keep me warm throughout the night. We are minutes away from the largest lake in Ethiopia- Lake Tana. I almost pretend that it is maritime weather but thinking of home makes me feel nostalgic. I have missed living close to water however and although this one is not quite the ocean, at least there are hippos and great bird life around to compensate for the lack of whales. You do what you can of course.

I’ve lived in Bahir Dar, in Northern Ethiopia, for almost a month now. I’m glad I am here. It’s a small enough town that you feel like you can get to know its intricacies, it’s alleyways and its restaurants. But it’s big enough to be able to disappear into it and have to make an effort to explore it. I’m afraid I haven’t made the effort just yet. Mostly, I go to work or stay at home and try to make myself feel like I’m here for real. For some reason, Ethiopia just feels unreal to me even now, after almost 4 months of being here. It’s like nowhere I have ever been before and I’m glad of it. I have a room that I like a lot in a big house that I share with other colleagues. I miss my husband but it’s been nice to have the space to be alone. Be forced to be alone with myself, my thoughts, at least some of the time, when I’m not at work or out with my housemates who are amazing people.

Bahir Dar is also known to be the source of the Blue Nile. It leaves us here and will make it’s way to the Sudan and where it joins with the While Nile and become the longest river in the world. And the same way, I feel like this is a great new beginning for me. Last week, I deactivated my Facebook account, stopped eating gluten and grains and have started exercising everyday. I love the work I do, serving smallholder farmers increase their yields and am challenged by the work I do and learning constantly. Overall, I consider myself to be a very lucky person. It’s still surreal that I live here though. Can you believe that in the past five years, I have lived in Rwanda, on an island off the coast of Canada, in the Philippines, in India and now in Ethiopia? How did I manage such a magical life, while doing work that I love that has impact for people who need it most? (Hypothetical question).

Tonight, I am feeling full of love, gratitude and contentment. I am home at the source of the Nile.

2 thoughts on “Home at the Source of the Nile

  1. Raïsa, it took me a while to find the time to read your recent blog entries, and now I am really happy to see you so full of gratitude and contentment about this sort of beginning! I admire you for having made these important decisions ( deactivating Facebook, modifying you diet and daily exercise!) and I am sure you will feel their benefits very soon. I know from experience, though, that it will not always be easy to stick to them, so I send you lots of good and positive thoughts from here to there! Continue to let us know what your life looks like, over there. Big hugs!

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