Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Arrival in Ethiopia...Let it Begin!

Well, after a long flight from Europe, and what seemed like an eternity in Lufthansa's tiny little seats sitting with my knees in my mouth, I arrived in Addis Ababa. Twas about 9pm, and I had no idea what to expect. Somehow I lucked out at customs, and went to get my visa first. Most people went to the customs line, but eventually were redirected to the visa line. When I arrived at the visa door, there were about 6 people in line. When I left, there were about 150. #WINNING! I breezed through customs and went to the place where Cien, my beloved friend from DePaul who I never really hung out with but who is my current host in Ethiopia, told me to wait. After about 20 minutes of no Cien, I decided to look for a phone to call to see where he was. Turns out, he was outside the airport, standing in a swarm of people, and security was not letting anyone into the airport. Thus, I came out and greeted him with a smile

Navigating the throng was simple enough, so we went to hail a cab. This is where I got a taste of what was to come. After entering the cab, full of smiles, I proceeded to attempt to roll down the window. Well, after grasping in the dark for a few seconds, I found what I thought was a lever to roll it down. Then the door opened. Bah! As there are no seat belts in any cab or bus in Addis (as Cien informed me while laughing as I tried to close the door as it swung about in moving traffic), I nearly fell out of the car going about 40 mph.

Well, I made it to his house. He lives in Arrat Kilo (Amharic for Four Kilometers, one of many "Kilo" neighborhoods, denoted by how many km they are from the city center I suppose), in a subsection called Jan Meda ("Jan Field" in Amharic). He lives the same sort of residential life that I do in Chicago. Arrat Kilo/Jan Meda is a neighborhood where few of the well heeled go, but a place that he finds people who care about him and who make some semblance of community despite their lack of resources. I like it too :)

A dual hot plate, a bath tub, a couch, hilariously wired electricity, water that sometimes works, and a big wonderful spider named Phil in the bathroom window who eats the flies for us...well its home for 3 months. There is no toilet seat, so make sure you have strong legs for the squatting, but otherwise its no different from the Rote Wand I left 12 hours earlier in Austria!

We spent the night laughing and catching up, and soon became the best of new-old friends. 


  1. R.I.P. Big Philly. Your good work will surely be missed.

  2. Ah, the tales of Phil shall be told in a later blog entry. Alas, he is no longer with us, but his transition was a simple and easy one. His spirit lives on in the bathroom....with every flush of the toilet, and with every wipe of the....mirror ;)