In ten days I'll be on a flight to Ethiopia. This will be my second time in the country. Last year my wife and I did a big road trip in Ethiopia for our tenth anniversary and I also did a side trip to Somaliland.
While that last trip was more of a survey of the two countries, this time I'm focusing on just one place--Harar. This medieval walled city in eastern Ethiopia has a unique culture that's a mix of the many different societies it has interacted with in its role as a major trading center. I'll be studying its culture and history to write a long series for Gadling as well as a book proposal.
So what am I doing to get ready? Not much, actually. On this sort of trip you just have to let things happen. My contacts in Harar will help me with my research and it's such a friendly place that I know everything will work out fine, more or less. I'm doing a lot of background reading, of course, sucking up every bit of information I can on the city and region. Sadly, there's not as much in English as there should be for such an important city. That's where I come in.
I'm also not worrying about the subject matter of my book proposal. I know it's going to be about some aspect of Harari culture, but I haven't decided what. While I have dozens of ideas I'm going to follow the advice of a Harari friend and let the subject choose me. Who I meet and what they teach me will shape my book. When a writer goes into a major project, it's best not to have too strict of an idea where it should lead.