Wanna see my bouncy castle?

^^ This pickup phrase is almost as cool as my own (which I, in turn, borrowed from Zaphod Beeblebrox himself, along with his underwear). Except, I might actually never find my spaceship, while Thomas definitely can show you his bouncy castle. Meet Thomas who calls himself the Bouncy Castle Ambassador. ‘My mission is to bring…

5 most annoying travel listicles

I’ve written some of those, because this is what travel agencies swoon over and want to see on their websites. Hell, hypertrophied versions of these lists are actually published as books. I can argue about the literary value of a text where each paragraph starts with a number, some of these lists can actually be…

Istanbul – Feriköy: the bazaar of bizarre things

Who doesn’t like buying junk? Golden junk, silver junk, paper junk, aluminum junk, steel junk, wooden junk and all other sorts of things you buy to personalize your living space and show off, elegantly and subtly. Antiquity stores, vintage flea markets, stockpiles of old stuff – whatever you call these places. They are awesome. Well…

Somaliland: guns and cave paintings

Everyone who is heading to Somaliland puts him/herself in great danger. The danger of sounding like an arrogant asshole in all subsequent travel talks: ‘Somaliland? Yeah, been there, rode a camel and ate Al-Shabaab for breakfast!’ Al-Shabaab is not a local variety of kebab. It’s a terrorist group in Somalia and a boogeyman of East…

Grassroots peace: the story of Awra Amba

Initially written for MasterPeace blog (here), I’d like to share with you another feature on Ethiopia. While I was researching my route, I realized that people who travel to/through Ethiopia are generally either 1) hate it, or 2) have enough money to go to all those famous places like Lalibela and Danakil and Aksum. I must say,…

There is no Place Like Home – All Roads Spring from Ethiopia

Ras Quintseb met me in Addis and treated me to a lunch of avocados and other greens in a local migib bet. ‘I am vegetarian. In the Bible it clearly says that Adam and Eve are vegetarians, too: God had given them animals to live with, not for slaughter,’ he started. I thought that he…

How I got adopted into Somalian family as a pet

Mama grabbed the cat from the floor and put him across her lap. The animal didn’t object, knowing that any resistance would be futile. ’Nagib, Nagib, good cat!’ she stroked his fur, and then added, turning to me, ‘In Somali language, cat means bisad.’ ‘Bisad – cat,’ I wrote down and repeated. Mama would come…

Commitment Issues and Nomad Syndrome

’Holy shit, you’ve been travelling for over a year now. What are you running from? Did you kill somebody?’  -something my host asked me once Relationships with countries are essentially like relationships with people: you get speed dates, one-night stands, eternal friendships and long-term love affairs. Sure enough, you never forget your first. I had…

Chick Habit

In rural Ethiopia, women grease their hair with butter for extra healthy shine. That’s just what they do. What they do NOT do is open windows in buses. Someone told me that they are afraid of catching tuberculosis from the draught. I thought that if I could throw some corn in the hair of a…