When ICS closed down at Spring Break, my daughter and I (daughter, Titay, starting 9th grade) proceeded with our original plans to meet my wife at Limalamo Lodge in the Simiens for a few days (my wife, Richelle, works in Shire, Ethiopia with UNHCR). We spent the best parts of two days sitting at the gate in the Bole domestic terminal trying to fly to Gondar to meet her. Unfortunately, due to a dust storm in the north, our flight was canceled multiple times over the two days until it wasn't worth going anymore. It's super strange to remember that weekend now and think that those plans were altered by something completely unrelated to the COVID pandemic. Remember back when Ethiopia would throw you curveballs like that even without a global pandemic? Sigh... simpler times... Also crazy is that we sat there in the crowded domestic terminal for most of two full days with masks or sanitizer or anything... we were still pretty oblivious in those early days.
We did have a couple of weeks with Richelle in Addis at the end of March before she returned to Tigray, after which we never saw her again... or so it felt. Tigray instituted it's own regional travel restrictions and quarantine rules that essentially stranded her there and made it impossible for us to go see her. Titay and I stayed in Addis until school ended, after which we decided to try to get to Canada. We managed to secure flights, navigate Canada's travel restrictions and quarantine rules, and get settled into a little cottage on the beach in Point-du-Chene, New Brunswick by June 3. We enjoyed that cottage for our two weeks of quarantine, after which we moved in to stay with my parents for a bit. Staying with my parents meant that I did a lot of little projects... mowing the lawn, fixing the deck, cutting some trees...
The COVID situation was mostly under control in NB by early July, so we were actually able to enjoy a relatively normal summer. We did a little local travel, saw some family, enjoyed some seafood... By mid-July, Richelle managed to negotiate some leave, get out of Tigray, and join up with us in Canada. After she did her quarantine, we were able to enjoy a month all together.
One major highlight of my summer was the opportunity to do a bunch of hiking. I did lots of day-hiking, but the pinnacle was my three-day solo hike of the Fundy Footpath on the Fundy coast. I turned 40 this summer and decided three nights alone in the woods was a great way to reflect on 40 years. It's a gorgeous hike and some fabulous coastline.
It's great to be back, though. Two months with my parents left us all anxious to get back to our own place here in Addis.
Nathan Haines is a High School Social Studies, IB Business, and IB Theory of Knowledge teacher at ICS.