Ethiopia Trip Blog: Day #3

January 15, Tuesday, 8AM Ethiopian Time

I hope that’s the right date and time. I’m all off kilter. Ethiopia is 11 hours ahead of California so I’m a little confused.  I’m writing a lot but I’m bored stiff and I don’t want to sleep too much and then have insomnia when we land.

The plane ride has been smooth. All the kids on the plane are crashed out. There is a really darling little Ethiopian boy in front of Frank and Allen who keeps poking his head over the seat. He has a Thomas the train toy and Frank taught him that the engineers name is Allen. Ha! His parents are Ethiopian but live and work in D.C. They are all coming home to visit family.

We’re watching some crappy movie (seems to be the norm on airplanes) so I’m writing. I’ve read about all I can take of Richard Mattheson so I started Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Wow, what a difference in style. You can immediately tell why this book is a classic. I would love to be able to write like that.

The team seems to be doing well. Everyone is getting along and supporting each other on this long flight. Smiles abound which is encouraging because this type of extended travel with 10 people can be taxing. Alicia seems to be handling this flight much better. Good for her.

January 15, Tuesday, 10:45AM Ethiopian Time

I’m not even sure what time it is. This is a LONG freaking flight! We land in Rome for gas and smokes in two hours. I hope we’re back in the air quickly, I’m starting to really look forward to a bed.

It’s kind of funny that we are so anxious to get there though. When you think about it, we’ve travelled half way around the freaking world in less than 24 hours!!! Ahhh…. a testament to American impatience. Ha!

January 15, Tuesday, 1:12PM Ethiopian Time

Landed in Rome. Didn’t get much of a view of it but it looks very green. Lot’s of farm land and old buildings. I would love to visit it some day.

January 15, Tuesday, 10:37PM Ethiopian Time

We’ve arrived! Got in and found Mica waiting for us. All of our luggage got here as well and in one piece. So that is an exciting thing.  I was worried about the Cajon.

The airport is relatively modern, but somewhat disorganized. Our visas were all filled out by hand on paper. Apparently either they don’t have this process computerized or the systems were down. They still use carbon sheets between multi-part forms. The luggage area was crazy busy and I suddenly realize we are the extreme minority. Despite this, everyone is super nice to us and each other.

We crowded into the van that Mica calls “The Bullet” and headed toward “home”. The ride was unbelievable. There appear to be no traffic laws here. You drive where there is space and at intersections you just barrel on through. It’s positively frightening. Roads just seem to disappear from under you, randomly turning into rocky dirt trails which seem to run every which way with no apparent order.

I don’t think they have any concept of city planning or zoning here either. There are shanties right next to modern buildings. Some of the road sides are lines with aluminum sided structures and every so often you’ll see a gap and there’s a little makeshift shop of sorts, selling various items. We drove through an alleyway and there was one guy in a 3 foot square closet like structure right next to the road selling stuff. It’s like they just squat anywhere they can and set up shop.

The house we’re staying in is really nice, relatively speaking. It’s modern, with marble everywhere and functioning bathrooms. Ethiopia was once occupied by the Italians so I don’t know if maybe this place was a hold over from that era when the Italians did a lot of building. The house is completely surrounded by a barbed wire topped wall and has double gates in front. There is a guard stationed at the gate and several workers in the house. I don’t know why we need a guard when crime here is supposedly very low, but apparently it’s considered snobbish not to employ servants if you have the cash to do so. Or something like that.