Friday, 27 April 2012

Mitchell Kanashkevich: Ethiopia

Photo © Mitchell Kanashkevich-All Rights Reserved

“Will I ever come back to Ethiopia?”

A question asked by Mitchell Kanashkevich after spending over four months in that country, crisscrossing it on a motorbike.

He doesn't ask it because of logistics, or because of practicalities...but rather he wonders if he would want to ever come back to Ethiopia. I chose to feature his post to counter balance my earlier post on Holland Cotter's Ethiopian experience because they are so divergent.

I won't go into the details of Mitchell's reasons for his largely negative personal experiences in Ethiopia since you can read it directly on his blog, but these range from onerous restrictions and regulations imposed by authorities to make some money off foreign visitors to "money hungry scheming locals" in Lalibela and other religious towns.

Mitchell Kanashkevich is amongst a handful of travel photographers who are truly intrepid, experienced and who produce consistently excellent imagery, so his experiences in Ethiopia ought to be heeded by independent travelers who want to visit Ethiopia the way he did. I'm not suggesting that travelers ought to be put off by his current mindset, but they certainly ought to pay attention to what he tells us...and prepare themselves for potential difficulties.

It is one thing to travel to Ethiopia (and wherever else) on assignment with The New York Times, and quite another to travel the way Mitchell did. Fixers, hotel accommodations, transportation are a world apart between these two.

As for the obnoxious and puerile comments that Mitchell's post seems to have generated, it's unfortunate. Some people don't realize the service that Mitchell has provided...they may disagree with it, they may not like it...but he related his personal experience, and he's free to express it as he sees fit...wherever and whenever he wants.

I traveled to Ethiopia in 2004, and my experience was different. But that was 8 years ago, and I traveled differently. However if I were to return to Ethiopia, I'd reread Mitchell's post very carefully.