Addis Ababa…Beautiful and Sad!
Where do I begin? I got to Amsterdam and after I blogged, I was waiting in a room to board a plane to Addis and people kept saying they were going to Khartoum (“cartoon”) which was in the Sudan. So I was confused and found out that the plane stopped in Khartoum to drop off and pick up people and fuel. I almost missed my flight by not wanting to get on. But all went well…
I sat next to a Canadian citizen who ran away from here (Ethiopia) 17 years ago to avoid army service. He was coming home to take his wife back to Canada for the first time after 9 years of marriage. Very smart guy with lots of stories and tips for my travel in his country. It made the long journey very pleasant. By the way KLM feeds you constantly and after you eat every time they want to offer you a cognac or a brandy. It’s weird but their flight attendants are like out of the1960’s when they were very young and had these “fake smiles” on their faces the entire time, like 10 hours. I felt like I was in a commercial… Worth flying (oh accept that they lost my bags, I’ll get to that.)
The moments, I had on the plane while most were sleeping, I glanced out the window and I saw where the very blue and turquoise and green sea ran into a very brown, tan and gold desert. Crossing into Africa couldn’t have been more dramatic. The desert is nothing, no a road or movement of any kind from the area. Huge Sand dunes reached for the sky and hours passed as we flew over Egypt and still nothing, nothing at all. It was beautiful, but no real color, just brown.
We started to make our descent to Khartoum and there was a terrible sand storm, you couldn’t see anything but brown. The city had had it all day and when we finally were over the city all there was, was brown… No color. Everything was covered in sand. You can tell that the people there are going through rough times, we had to remain on board but I watched as the cleaning crew of mostly men in there 60’s were yelled at and commanded by a kid no older then 20. It was very upsetting to watch. I am definitely in Africa.
Onto Addis, where I get off, go through customs. No problem, except no bags! One is in Boston and the other is in Amsterdam. Great! I can get one today and one late tomorrow, which is a problem. I am going to the country tomorrow until Monday or Tuesday. So I’ll have to figure a way out. The hotel has been very helpful in that regard. Problem is I want my clothes and things of course in one bag, but the supplies I brought were mainly for the people in the country, which one do I wish for first! Everyone pray my bags turn up soon!
One more thing… This city had a recent election in April and the results were suppose to come out yesterday and they have delayed them until next month… so some students at the university broke out in a riot and 20 were killed by the army. This was while I was in route. Another incident broke out at a market and another 20 were killed and 100’s wounded. The only reason I am sharing this with everyone is that I want you know that I am safe and will do nothing foolish! I have talked to our embassy (which I have to go to a meeting there soon) and locals about where the violence is and they all, even the US gov. assured me that, one Americans are not targeted… I don’t look Ethiopian at all and two the areas where I will be working have little to no military presence; and the military are the ones with the guns.
I am also staying at the nicest hotel in Africa… too much to describe, mainly because I needed Internet access but it’s really sad actually compared to the poverty right out the Huge Iron gates. I don’t really understand it but it is the best I have ever seen in a hotel. I feel kind of guilty staying here but on the other hand Sheraton has gone through lots of trouble to keep their guest safe and happy. So please don’t worry too much, everyone today says things are normalizing. This, as in many countries in Africa are ruled by soldiers (kids) and guns. They look so young yet they walk around with guns on their shoulders. The airport was full of the army, mostly talking and laughing with each other, but you could feel the presence. I promise I will keep everyone up to date as much as possible. The news here is in Amharic, so it is hard to follow, so I just ask everyone. Oh, one more thing I met with two of my Dr’s from Philly and Houston and they are going to be fun. I am not going to the orphanage today because I have no gifts, maybe later when I come back from the country. All is well!!! Day 1 of the adventure begins….