Sunday, December 28, 2008
Never Returning Home
It's too long and complicated a story to cover in depth, but you can get an overview of Eritrea's war for independence from Ethiopia here (as well as the ongoing border dispute). Saudi Arabia has the largest population of expatriate Eritreans in the world (around 50,000), and there are a lot of Eritreans working at the embassy, almost all of whom grew up in what was then Ethiopia. Word evidently got around about my trip to Ethiopia, and I had all of these older men whom I had never met come up to me and ask me about Addis. They all had this sad, wonderful expression on their face, as they asked me about their favorite restaurants or neighborhoods or sights in a city to which they have no hope of ever returning. All of them seemed so excited to hear me talk about how much I enjoyed my time in the city, and these older men, many of whom work menial jobs and never really talk to the Americans that much, bubbled with excitement that I would willingly visit the city they love and would be happy about it. It was one of the saddest things I think I've ever seen.