“I said: ‘You guys look like an ad for Bombay Sapphire',” he told “Not even five minutes later I said: 'You're going to be my girlfriend'.” What he didn't reveal that night 12-years ago, was that plain old Joel was actually Prince Joel, the great-grandson of Haile Selassie I, Ethiopia's last emperor.
It was my last year of college and with an open J-term coming up, and I was determined to take advantage of the month long break and travel abroad. Coincidentally, two of my good friends were planning a trip to Ethiopia to visit friends and relatives.
Knowing that my parents would sleep better at night if I was traveling with two male friends of broad and tall stature, I booked my plane ticket to Addis Ababa.
The royal family traces its roots back to the Biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
The pair married in a lavish Ethiopian Orthodox Christian wedding with 13 priests, two crowns and a pair of capes on 9 September.
Once, while walking through the streets, a boy sitting outside his house sang a line from a popular Rihanna song, “Oh na na, what’s your name? Those were probably some of the few English words he knew.
Heads turned everywhere I went, to the point where one of my friends reminded me later, “You better enjoy this now because you know it won’t be the same once we go back to the States.” Though there were six people in my host family, my host brother was the one I ended up spending the most time with since he spoke much better English than anyone else and was the only one with a car to drive into the city.
When we landed in Addis, my host brother and his friend greeted me with flowers, and about six relatives came to pick up my two friends.
I should mention that my friends come from a tribe native to South Sudan called the Lou Nuer who are known for two things: their daunting height and ability as warriors.
It’s unfortunate it has to be this way, but true all the same.