Ethiopian Eyes

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A few weeks ago, Mike and I went on a small afternoon adventure to a fork in the river. We were trying to spot the elusive hippopotamus’ that often feed in the Sheta river. While we didn’t see the giant herbivores, we did not come home empty handed. The walk itself was beautiful; we meandered through a palm tree oasis, past monkeys and quaint homes on our way to the quintessential river paradise. And then we happened upon the most photogenic family that i’ve ever seen. A baby was standing at the entrance to the family’s one room circular gojo bet, the traditional Ethiopian house made of eucalyptus, mud and straw. Immediately she caught my eye. Her eyes were magical. Her family came to us for a small photo session, and they were so grateful just to see the results. Of all the things I will miss about Ethiopia, the sweet and genuine disposition of the people might be the greatest. You can notice it in how they act and welcome strangers. You can see it in their eyes.

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Logan - So, amazingly beautiful!

Asante Sana Squash Banana

The idea of Zanzibar was all Mike’s fault.

I know I’d heard of it before… but it seemed like one of those unreachable exotic locations that you had to take an 18 hour plane ride to. Which is partially true. I never gave it much thought until Mike mentioned it while daydreaming about cool places to see while he’s living out here in Ethiopia. Once I googled it, there was no turning back.

From the second we landed in our tiny 20-person airplane, the entire experience felt like a dream. We got in a cab to drive an hour south to Jambiani, a private area known for the best beaches. On the way there, we made friends with the cab driver who ended up persuading us into renting one of his mopeds. Even though Mike or I had never driven a manual vehicle… or a motorcycle… or even on the opposite side of the road… we were ecstatic to discover Zanzibar and view it how it’s meant to be seen.

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My favorite part of any vacation isn’t actually relaxing. It’s actually observing the culture. I LOVE culture. I was kind of mad at myself for not exploring anthropology a little earlier in my college career.

I took my first course—Perspectives on Africa—the very last semester of college… and loved it. I drank it all in and became obsessed with all of the customs of people in different parts of Africa. It was even cooler because Mike had just started his time in Ethiopia, so I could relate the lessons I was learning to his new experiences in this foreign land.

It was so refreshing to see how untouched much of Zanzibar still was, despite it having world-famous beaches. The culture is just as rich as it’s been for hundreds of years. The ugly side of tourism  has yet to affect the integrity of the island.  I marveled at the gorgeous architecture that was brought from the Arabs. I tasted the famous spices. I drooled over the beautiful textiles that the women wore as shawls.

And the DOORS?! If you know me, you know I love doors. I don’t know why. Especially the really old creaky ones that tell a story. But I LOVED Zanzibar’s doors! The craftsmanship is insane. Whenever I get a door of my own, you can bet it’s gonna be a Zanzibar door.

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Carly - Wow, Emily that's such a nice comment! Thanks for the kind words and motivation! :):)

Emily - Carly you take the most amazing pictures for someone your age. I can't believe we actually sat in the same classroom together at JMU. You are truly an inspiration! Keep it up.

Ashlyn - Carly, I love reading about your adventures. Your perspective of the world and other cultures is great! I would die for that experience to travel and live amoung the locals. Your pictures are great too! :)

Heading Forward, Looking Back

2011… Wow.

Let me just say that nothing can prepare you for the first year outside of college. THAT should be coined as the first time one can “leave the nest.”

No one tells you how difficult it is to adjust after the “best years of your life” — and if you went to JMU, they undoubtedly were. How can you possibly face life after JMU?!

Regardless, I moved back home and started my new life without Mike and my best friends being down the hall.

Not only was Mike around the globe, I can safely say he was in another dimension. Life in Ethiopia is not on the same plane as back home, in any way whatsoever. Their culture is completely untouched by the Western world: no one understands our humor, the way we dress, act, live, breathe. They eat with their hands, walk around barefoot, and gasp when they agree with you (it still throws me off). Their sense of time and how they use is quite the opposite of ours. Ethiopia was, in fact, America turned upside down.

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It’s also where it helped me unveil a whole new part of myself.

When I first arrived here in May, it was unlike anywhere I’d been, yet it strangely felt like coming home. Somewhere in my unconscious mind is a forgotten memory of how life was once lived… and is meant to be lived.

Ethiopians have nothing, yet have everything. Their lives are built around a sense of community and family. They address you as ‘windeme’ or ‘ahete’ (brother or sister). If you don’t have something and they do, it is yours…everything is shared. Joy and pain, up and down. Their view on life makes you appreciate everything you have.

I came across a quote that I now try to live my life by: “To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.”

Life is too short to not try and soak up every little bit that you can while you’re here. Traveling is my way of gaining experiences that I can use to help me make sense of life around me.

Seeing life through Ethiopia’s lens was one of the best things that has yet to happen to me and coming back from the first trip made me get a jump start on my new life as a photographer. I had this wonderful realization that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be and what I’m meant to be doing, and it’s the best feeling in the world. I’ve since been blessed with great opportunities and clients, and a new energy in my work.

Coming here made me realize that can be just as sweet as those college years, if not sweeter. With a few new experiences in your back pocket, anything is possible.

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Anne Waidmann - Lovely post, Carly. You are a true romantic! Can't wait to see you when you get back, and to hear all about your time with Michael. Love to you both.

Anne

A Fresh Perspective

I am completely enamoured by the people here. Lucky for me, they are equally as interested in me. It’s not often they see a ‘ferenje’ (white person) walking in their home town.

I really can’t get enough of them. Their lives are so simple, their disposition so pure. They are reall, virtually untouched by the Western world… and are the most genuine people I’ve ever come across. They don’t understand our humor, and are entertained by things like Mike and I holding hands.

I wanted to find a way to capture their spirit. I started playing around with a new angle in my photography… one where I held my camera down by side and clicked the shutter, unbeknownst to the subject. I figured this would make both our lives easier: For me, I wouldn’t have to struggle to catch a moment off-guard. For them, they wouldn’t have to be embarassed by my camera’s intimidating lenses. My hope was to make the moments more candid and less forced. Also, it was important to capture these images at the children’s eye level so we can see the world as they do.

This sweet little girl was my first portrait I took. She is one of Mike’s favorites, someone who comes and greets him whenever he goes to teach at Hope Academy. She ran to greet both of us and after holding Mike’s hand for a bit, ran to the other side to do it to me. This is the moment when I snapped her portrait. Her excitement can best be remembered this way.

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These are a few snaps I got when we first went to visit Mike’s kindergarten class. We were showing them the video I made about my last trip to Ethiopia on my iPad — they were completely in awe. The girl in the red is one of my favorites — she always greets me with a thousands kisses on my neck and hands. 

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We snapped a Instax photo (the Polaroid) of the whole class for Teshfanish, Mike’s other teacher he works with. I always love seeing their reactions to the “magic.”

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On our way home, a quaint family in front of their simple home caught our eye. They were the perfect family for my film project. I took a photo of this mother and her three children. I watched as they stood mesmerized as the photo appeared before their eyes. The genuine gratitude they showed for such a simple token was humbling. The mother then rewarded us with a great photo opportunity of freshly picked and ripened Ethiopian Coffee.

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auto mass traffic review - review - What’s up, this weekend is fastidious for me, for the reason that this moment i am reading this fantastic informative paragraph here at my residence.

Alisha - You are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing such great moments with us. I wish so much that we could come and experience part of it with Mike but I feel like I kind of have after seeing all of your pictures.

Love you both

Alisha

Erin - Great images that really capture the pure beauty of these people. Wonderful.

Erin Oveis Brant - These photos are incredible! Love the project!!

Luke - Is that a little Jib-let (blonde dog in two pictures)? He's huge!

Liz Gass - I love your new method for taking pictures! The candidate nature is PRICELESS and the first picture of the little girl is exceptionally incredible! So proud of you and Mike. Keep up the good work!

ashley barnett - The way the light is falling through the window onto that little boy in the classroom literally made me stop in my scrolling tracks. These are wonderful Kins <3

Ashley Goodwin - Wow Carly. Wow.

The Journey

Tomorrow will mark two weeks since I first arrived in Ethiopia again. The past few weeks have been exciting, annoying, and extremely rewarding all at once. Seeing Mike again for the third time in over a year is always incredible. What I really couldn’t get over was how coming back here felt a lot like going home. It’s foreign from everything I know and am used to, yet there is this strong sense of familiarity that I cannot make sense of… especially when I come back to Bonga.

Life is difficult. We have no car, running water (or fresh water, or hot water… actually all forms of water are pretty rare), fridge, toilet, peanut butter. It was especially difficult on Thanksgiving. I was determined to cook this eloborate meal from scratch. I now know what ‘from scratch’ actually means.

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Anyway, I really wanted to make this green chili corn bread. So this means getting the dried corn from the market, walking down to the corn mill and somehow trying to translate just how corn-mealy we want our corn meal. We got 3 different variations. Alemua (Mike’s sweet compound friend) did us a huge favor and sorted the 3 out for us. Then there’s the cutting of the chilis, and since I’m an amatuer I promptly stuck my finger (fresh with green chili juice) into my eye when it itched. Lesson learned. The whole day continued on like this: Jon (Peace Corps friend), Mike, and I baking and testing and blasting jazz music. It was a gorgeous day of laughing and sun and yumminess. It yielded one amazing batch of veggie chili, some sweet potatoes with marshmallows that wouldn’t melt… and corn pudding. Despite our efforts to make the dutch oven work in our favor, the bread just wouldn’t get hot enough.

The point of the story is this: Thanksgiving, or any day for that matter, is a gift– and it’s the journey– the process of getting to the goal, that counts. That’s what counts. Slow down and smell the flowers… or life will pass you by.

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Sonya Verblaauw - Wow those stars are amazing. We should never take for granted what we have here, huh? Great story and definitely puts things in perspective…again haha That's awesome you can tell these stories though. Love your pics, as always!!

beckieboo - the pics are amazing! and you are so stunning in that black&white…as always!