Today I decided to be brave and took a walk outside on my own. For safety Ethiopia is pretty good especially during daylight and around urban places. Yet I was still nervous and took the sunshine outside my window as encouragement to go explore. Though I didn't walk for very long I ran into the two things I am most afraid of, stray dogs and forward men.
The reason I dislike stray dogs is pretty self-explanatory, they are usually not trained and carry diseases. When I was in Laos I distinctly remember being barked at by a gang of stray dogs and if the hotel I was staying at wasn't only a stone throws away, I’m pretty sure they would have overtaken me. So you can say I have a healthy fear of wild dogs and like to keep my distance from them.
As for forward people, that was a lesson I've learned over time. There is a distinction to be made between being pleasantly forward and being overly forward. A pleasantly forward guy will be honest and a bit charming. They tend to have a carefree attitude and will act within the socially acceptable limits. An overly forward man will usually hug you too much, flatter you too often, and basically be constantly intruding on your personal space.
I don’t want to give the impression that all Ethiopians are forward, because they’re not, and are actually very kind.Every once and a while though, you will run into one who isn't, and especially in my case where I don’t know the rules of conduct and probably have ignorantly ignored prior advances. This of course means you must be more blunt and grab the person you are advancing on. Thankfully it all happened very quickly and it wasn't meant in harshness, more in the way that a child will try and get your attention after being constantly overlooked. I was already a bit strung out so I decided to end my walk.
I've noticed that in the first few days of being in a foreign country, even little tasks become energy draining. I got back from my walk breathing hard as if I had ran a mile. I chatted with the front desk girl and told her my incident; she just laughed and told me to brush it off. I then figured no one will understand me, English speaking or not, and went to my room for some solitude.
I have learned one important lesson from all this though, the sunshine lies!