My Ethiopia Adventure: We Don't Need to Worry about the Hippos

It was a Sunday--the day before our long treks through the villages surrounding Bahar Dar. After church, we spent the afternoon playing tag and sipping on bottles of Coca Cola and Marinda. Thanks to the Italians occupying Ethiopia in years past, we munched on margarita pizza before we stepped onto the boat. After a couple hours, we glided across Lake Tana to visit a monastery on one of it’s islands.

As the coast faded in the background, we looked over the left side of the boat to see bobbing heads in the distance. Hippos spouted water, as if they were blowing their noses. The roaring engine silenced and we all pointed and stared at the hippos. As minutes passed by, the bobbing heads appeared to be approaching the boat. Knowing a hippo could easily chomp a body in half left the pizza digesting in our stomachs unsettled.

Nathan, Erin’s seven-year-old son, looked up to her. With a nervous shake in his voice, he said “Mommy, mommy, I am scared.” As the hippos inched closer, he scooched over to Erin.

Erin looked down at Nathan, rubbed the back of his life jacket, and said, “You don’t have to worry about the hippos.”

The engine rattled the boat, as we continued towards the island. The hippo family faded in the background.

I relate to Nathan’s fear of the hippos. Each morning I gradually wake up, as I hit the snooze button every nine minutes. Fear cripples me, leaving me wanting to escape into the comfort buried in the sheets and blankets of my warm bed. Fear attacks my thoughts, like a hippo chomping away at it’s next meal. My mind turns to fog as if blood rushed from my body.

Am I as good of a writer as they thought?

Did I take good enough photographs?

Am I a good enough daughter?

Can I really raise the financial support I need?

Fear after fear gnaws away at my energy. I drown in exhaustion. And then I remember…

I don’t have to worry about the hippos.

In the jaws of a hippo, even the meatiest human being snaps like a twig. But in a fight between a boat and a hippo, the boat wins out.

I can stare and point at the giant fear swimming out in the distance. It probably has the ability to destroy me and kill any and all of my hopes. But when I take a look around me, I realize that this fear can’t touch me.  Because of who’s boat I am in, my mind settles.