There is a girl from Ethiopia who calls herself Abyssinian Nomad after the historical name of her country (Abyssinia). Maskarm Haile’s life has long been attached to adventure – so far she has lived and worked in more than ten countries and spent five years as a nomad living out of her backpack in every continent except Antarctica.
In 2008, one of her biggest dreams came true when she backpacked from Cape Town to Cairo using public transport, hitchhiking, and couchsurfing for nine months. This adventure is described in her book, Abyssinian Nomad, which inspired us to contact Maski and ask her to tell us about her incredible story.
– Who is Maskarm and what are her dreams?
Maskarm Haile is a dreamer, a travel junkie, a seeker, a lover of world cultures, people, food, self-discovery, and captivating stories. My dream is to always travel the world to learn and give back along the way.
– As an African traveler in Africa, how is your perspective different?
There have been a few travel books written on Cape to Cairo by non-Africans. And so far only one travel log by South African writer Sihle Khumalo, but none by an African woman traveler. My experience as an African and a woman was totally different from the books and most of the time it was considered wrong and unacceptable.
– What was one thing you didn’t expect to happen during your trip – but it did?
I thought since I’m Ethiopian and spoke Amharic traveling in Ethiopia would be a lot easier, but I was proven wrong. The customs agents thought I was a spy, the only thing that saved me was my tampon that they thought was my spy device.
– Many people dream of crossing Africa overland. What’s your most important piece of advice for them?
If you have a dream to cross Africa, I say you do it. But that dream has to be yours because traveling in Africa tests your faith in your dream. Africa will demand your integrity, by confronting your belief system, physical and emotional strength on a daily basis – sometimes every minute – but reward you with overwhelming untouched natural beauty, wildlife, mountains, vibrant and alive culture, and generous people. But not only that – it also transforms your life.
– What’s your next challenge?
At this point in my life, I’m also trying to check off some of the things I have on my bucket list. One of them is the Trans-Siberian Railway. I hope to learn more about the countries I’ll be crossing (Russia, Mongolia and China) while I make local friends.
– Share something inspiring with everyone reading this!
Trust your dream, nurture it, listen to it – when it whispers, it will become your guiding star.
All photos courtesy of Maskarm Haile.