Our Travelationship in Review: November 2015

By: Heather

Travelationship in review

In what felt like the longest month of our lives, November had us riding a wave of highs and lows in every possible spectrum of our travels and relationship. Our emotional, physical and mental states were tested almost daily. We lost the fight quite a few of the days, but now seem to be gaining strength and getting back to our usual selves.

Looking back we believe the lack of true communication between us and chasing internet led to our emotionally unstable month. Matt’s poor attitude toward Malawi lingered with him while we were in Ethiopia. The negative energy fed into my reservations and frustrations. Before we knew it, we were bickering almost daily about nothing.

A couple of experiences in Ethiopia broke both our spirits. The situations were the last of a series of events in different countries over the past few months, which sent us both over the edge (see the Not So Good for more explanation). We left Africa 2 months earlier than expected. Matt was happy about the change. I was not, but I didn’t realize how unhappy the decision made me until after we agreed to leave.

We had to take two unscheduled days off from each other because we just weren’t clicking. It took us all month to get ourselves together. The stress caught up to us, and we had to admit to ourselves that we were fallible. The daily poverty, unfair treatment of life, lack of useable resources which should be allowed to everyone, lack of clear communication between us and the stress of daily travel kicked our asses last month. But…we learned from it.

We are now in Thailand and feeling better. We are looking forward to better days in December!

The Stops

Ethiopia: Mekelle, Danakil Depression, Erta Ale, Dodom, Abaala, Hamedela, Berhale, Ragad (Asebo), Dallol, Oily Lake, Lake Assal, Salt Mountain, Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Harar

United Arab Emirates: Dubai

Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai

The Great

The Danakil Depression, 4-day tour, was a highlight of the entire trip. Most visit for the Erta Ale Volcano, but we loved the colors and the vastness of Dallol – a photographer’s creative dream world.

Erta Ale Volcano, Ethiopia

Erta Ale Volcano, Ethiopia.

November Wrapup 02

Dallol, Ethiopia

Dallol, Ethiopia.

For the most part – I was impressed with most of Ethiopia because it was the first African country I had visited where I witnessed locals helping those in need. I saw, in abundance, fellow Ethiopians donating food or money to those less fortunate.

Yi Peng/Loy Kathrong in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was a huge TO DO item for him.

UAE and Thailand provided us with fast, reliable internet.

Visiting the Burj Khalifa – the current tallest building in the world in Dubai, UAE

Heather looking out over Dubai from Burj Khalifa.

Heather looking out over Dubai from Burj Khalifa.

Matt found some new swim trunks that fit him. No more worrying about his swim trunks falling off.

The food in Thailand is delish. What else can I say about it? Mmmmmm.

Catmosphere – a cat café in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The cats had us laughing and feeling happy.

November Wrapup 08

Of course, we met more fantastic people. Thank you, Helen, Dean, James, Semhal, Amanda, Dieter, Benedict, Ana, Lotje, Mary, Berket, JT, you each brought extra oomph to our days. Special thanks to Mohammed for his help and compassion.

The Not So Great

We both seemed to get sick multiple times during the month. The worst was when it hit me right before we boarded the plane from Mekelle to Addis Ababa. Thank you, Elle, for those magic yellow French pills!

We had to nix our plans to visit Djibouti. Ethiopia proved to be larger and take more time (& money) for us to explore than we expected.

The poverty, inequality among sexes & animal abuse witnessed in the past few months has taken a toll on us. Atrocities are found everywhere in the world, but the intense level of day in and day out exposure put us both over our emotional limits.

Now imagine already feeling the above and coming across a dog left to die. The dog was hit by a car (we assumed). Its injuries were horrific! We will spare the details but will both be haunted forever by what we saw. The dog was still alive and suffering immensely. No one helped. No one seemed to care. We debated far too long on how to help. Matt found a vet and after his persistence and going through several people, one of the office workers (not the vet) came and euthanized the dog.

Because of the above, our plan to stay in Africa for six months was canceled. We left for UAE on the 19th. Matt was happy about leaving. I was not.

The arguing and stress were too much this month. The negative emotional and mental layers of our experiences caught up to us. We didn’t take the time to process the “bad” stuff and reconcile it in our heads, so instead the feelings manifested themselves into arguments and crappy attitudes.

The Oops!, WTF?, LOLs – Lessons learned, head scratchers & hilarities
Oops! Let’s not do that again lessons

When on top of a volcano crater look before you sit. We sat on the crater edge and later realized the ground was covered in little tiny lava slivers that wove their little edges into our behinds, backpacks and later into our backs. We were scratching out slivers for days.

An army of slivers.

Let our stress, emotions, and mental state get out of control. We learned a lot from November and hope never to repeat the same mistakes.

WTF? Did that really just happen?

The litter left behind on Erta Ale volcano is disgusting. WTF are trekkers thinking that it is ok to leave this garbage behind. An empty plastic bottle weighs nothing! If the strain of carrying an empty plastic bottle lends someone that much exertion then give it to someone else to carry for you. And the locals don’t have the means to transport, recycle or dispense with all the plastic bottles and garbage so they 1) burn it 2) hide it in holes.

We get that traveling through different countries one sees litter in so many places, but that does not mean that as a visitor you have the right to litter too! Be better do better!

A woman we were speaking with was acting completely aghast and horrified about the litter situation in Ethiopia. She went on and on about how shocked she was that locals and tourists would disrespect their surroundings so much. All great and dandy until she unwrapped the seal off of her water bottle and flicked the wrapper on the ground! Some people are genuine idiots!

A guide burning all the trash from the hike.

A guide burning all the trash from the hike.

LOLs our laugh out load hilarious moments

During our four day Danakil tour, we had the pleasure of traveling with a fun group. 2 of the group, Dieter and Benedict, were exceptionally funny and kept us all laughing with their one-liners and concert singing moments. Thank you, guys!

The Posts
Our Ears and Eyes

Love Life” By Rob Lowe
And the Mountains Echoed” By Khaled Hosseini


Memory Man” by David Baldacci

Up Next

We are currently in Thailand with no idea where we will head to next. Most likely – Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam.

Have any suggestions on where we should go next? Let us know in the comments!

Lanterns being released for Yi Peng, Thailand.

Lanterns being released for Yi Peng, Thailand.

See More Photos on Flickr and Please look for us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Comments 8

  1. Thanks for sharing, not just about your travels but the hard parts of your journey as well. Whether they are your significant other or not it’s important to know your boundaries with your travel partner and take a step back when necessary.

  2. Fantastic article! Good to see coverage and your honest comments about your travels and relationship……reality wins! And appreciate your take on countries not covered as much. Will continue following. Learned about your blog through your mother!!

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  3. November has been a tough month for me too! So glad you guys are back on track and feeling positive now. Now all we need is a tonne more of those magic French pills! (Also, I have been told to take deworming medicine every 3 months in Africa – I feel like a dog!)

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  4. I appreciate your transparency in this post. Your photography still astounds me, but I’m glad to read about the realities of what you’re seeing and doing. On a personal level, I have a granddaughter who was adopted from an orphanage in Addis Ababa. She is a treasure to our family, but you reminded me that “nobody knows the troubles she’s seen.” Thank you. I sincerely hope your December is much, much better. Merry Christmas.

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