Getting around in rural Ethiopia can present various challenges. In today’s blog post, intern Kendall Prossner details some of the difficulties of driving around…and introduces the expert who got them through.

I wanted to introduce everyone following along to the people we’ve been spending most of our time with thus far. Along with Susanne, Madison, Gashaw, and me, there are three other very important people who have been with us for our days in the field.

Tessima is our partner, translator, and my personal Amharic dictionary. He has been so helpful in getting us to understand new words and specifically in knowing the spelling of words and phrases – Madison and I started a list of phrases in our phones so we can try to talk with some of the people we meet.

Galfi is a water technician employee for the sites we visited the past few days and he also doubled as our tour guide. He got us to all of our different project sites without any wrong turns and even more impressively, without a GPS.

The final member of our group is the MVP of today, our driver, Ashi.

Ashi is a super sweet and soft-spoken guy. Although he doesn’t say much, we are so appreciative of him and the way he skillfully gets us around all of the tuk-tuks, boto-botos, donkeys, goats, chickens, and people that crowd the Ethiopian streets. For insight if you’ve never been to Africa, the traffic signs and road markings are merely suggestions: anyone can go anywhere, anytime. So having such an awesome driver has made the craziness of Ethiopian roads a little less stressful for the rest of us!

Not only does he navigate the streets well, Ashi also navigates all of the off-roading terrain we encounter on our way to reach villages far out with extreme precision. He makes our “African massages” as enjoyable as one can be. An “African massage,” as Gashaw says, happens when we get jostled around the car while we’re driving on the rough roads. Today, for instance, we visited a village that you could only reach from a single steep and rocky dirt road. Did I mention it’s the rainy season here? So what once was dirt, was actually mud.

So today we got a “deep tissue African massage” as this ride was much rougher than the rest. The mud covered road caused the car to slide and fishtail multiple times on our way down the hill before reaching a river we had to cross at the bottom. I think we were all freaking out internally as we slid our way down the hill. But not only did we make it down the hill and across the river to visit the village, we also made it back up the mud covered hill and back  to our hotel without any issues.

It’s safe to say that today, Ashi was my hero. I think it’s also safe to say that today, as I’m sure every day will be, was full of adventures much like the one I just shared!