It’s been nearly three years since I returned from my last long-term travel jaunt in South America. Three years! It’s been so good to be home. I reconnected with my hometown of Denver. I built a career with Southwind Adventures, and I went on a couple fam trips to Ecuador and Peru.
I wrapped myself up in one place, and before I knew it, I became a total Colorado cliche — complete with the Subaru, the Gore Tex, and weekend upon weekend of rugged Rocky Mountain fun. I’m now a born-again Denverite, a card-carrying Coloradan.
Meanwhile, the antsy-pants traveler in me has been plotting the next long-term move. A few weeks ago, I finally took the step of buying a one-way ticket to East Africa. I’ll be leaving to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, on May 6. Any questions? Here are the ones I hear most:
Are you going solo?
No, not this time. One of the best parts about living in Denver has been the people in it. I’ve made fantastic new friends, particularly Chris. We met in January of 2014, when he responded to my online dating message because my profile said something about having “geographic A.D.D.”
Chris told me his ideas about relocating to Ethiopia to see how he can apply his skills locally in a developing-world context, and that’s how I fell in love — not just with him but with the idea, and we started to share it.
So what will you be doing there?
I’ll be continuing to work remotely for Southwind Adventures, which is transitioning to an online workplace. I’ll also be doing my online course teaching, as well a small freelance writing gig with a marketing firm. Outside of that, I’ll be taking it all in, seeing as much of Ethiopia as possible, and scouting out local opportunities in the tourism industry.
Likewise, Chris will be keeping his current position at MB BIM Solutions remotely via Internet, while looking around for local opportunities to do civil engineering design work.
Wait, so why Ethiopia?
Lots of good reasons — the Simien Mountains, the unique culture, the colorful-pancake-esque food, the fascinating coffee sector, the rapid growth, the nice weather, and the low cost of living, to name a few. Did I already say mountains and trekking? The primary reason is that Chris has ties to East Africa and a friend living in Addis Ababa already. The more I’ve researched it, the more compelling it has become. It’s been described in travel literature as a challenging destination, but with great rewards.
Sometimes this question gets rephrased as “why not Latin America?” — a fair point given my Spanish skills, professional experience, and hungry love for that part of the world. I do hope to return to Latin America for another long-term stay in the future, but I want to do this first.
How long will you be there?
This is still up in the air. Our flights are one-way, and we’ll take it six months at a time. Duration will depend on a number of factors such as work situations, local opportunities, visa scenarios, reliability of internet in Ethiopia, and the general livability of it all. So … we’ll see! I hope to stay for at least a year.
Where will you be living?
We already have a room in a house figured out, and it will be ready for us when we arrive. We’ll be housemates with Chris’ friend living in Addis Ababa, and an Ethiopian who founded IceAddis, a coworking space that we’ll be using as an office. Price is right on the rent!
What are you going to do with all your stuff?
With my frugal, minimalist tendencies, I’ve made it a point not to accumulate too much stuff, but I do have a complete apartment set up here. I’ll get rid of most of it, store a small part of it, and take the rest of it with me. I’ve been using guides like this great resource page on Uncornered Market to prepare for all aspects of living and working online from afar.
Can I come visit you?
Yes please! Anyone willing to spring for the airfare is welcome to visit. I think we’ll have a place to keep guests and lots of fun things to do with them. This question is sometimes phrased as a statement — “I’ll come visit you!” But I understand that Ethiopia is really far away, so I’ll interpret that not as a promise but as an aspiration. I’ll settle for just general wondering about me while I’m gone. Keep an eye out for updates!