Friday, June 11, 2010

The trip from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Now, since my arrival, I am entirely excited to see and learn what I can within this country...but it was not a pretty trip at all. Seems school is out and every flight, including from Detroit to Amsterdam; Amsterdam to Khartoum and Khartoum to Addis was full of screaming children and babies. I had one creep, about four who was behind me shrieking from Amsterdam to Khartoum, for 9 hours. His mother screamed at him, he stood and spit on my head, slapped my arms and head and more. The little shit almost died!! And every leg, except Khartoum to Addis Ababa, which was only a 2 hour flight was completely full so NO chance of moving to another seat.

When we arrived in Khartoum, we were not allowed to exit the plane and we had to sit in our seats. We had just completed an hour long leg of the trip and had to sit with no drinks and no moving around. Again, I was not a happy camper. After the plane was refueled, we could stand, but when I suggested a drink, I was told no alcohol could be served while the doors were open. I had asked for a "drink" and they did decide I could have a water! Would love to stay in Khartoum for a bit just to see/hear what happens during call to prayer, especially in the mornings. There were more mosques and minarets than I saw in Iraq.

NO sleep, or rest. But I met the neatest Sudanese-American who was coming home to Khartoum to see her family for the first time in 20 years. Her parents, brother and sister, had not met her husband or her children and most likely will never do so. Why? The flight from Edina, Minnesota where they live and work would cost more than $2000 per ticket and they don't have $10,000 for the family to go over. And she was covered top to bottom (the parts I could see) with a gorgeous henna tattoo which she says comes off after about 10-15 days. Women in the Sudan are tattooed at puberty but only on their hands (not permanently so they can change for the season, the holiday etc). Married women are tattooed all over and it was gorgeous. She preferred I not take a photo, otherwise, here it would be.

We flew over the Sahara and while very cool, it looked hot and unforgiving. Saw not one thing other than sand and periodically some rocklike formations. At one point, it looked like a jeep was out there kicking up dust but there was no road in sight.

I have few photos but will post them later tonight or tomorrow. This is the first that I have been allowed to get to ANY blog. I asked the internet provider here if there was online censorship and the guy turned purple (hard to do when you are dark skinned!) and I told him I couldn't access my blog or those of my friends...he asked me to "rest my computer" and he was sure it would work when I got back to my room. Guess what? Here I am and funny it should work after talking with him.

This morning, I went out for a walk to see what I could see. First, though, I had to get some Birr, which is the Ethiopian currency. The ATM was outside of the hotel, but still on the grounds. So, out I went. Both machines were being stocked with money by two men in street clothing with nary a guard anywhere to be seen. So, the guys would take a wad of Birr from the suitcase on the ground, walk to the money machine, insert it, turn his back and go back to the suitcase. No hurry, no worry. Very odd.

And it is a bit hilly here in Addis and while walking I was approached by so many beggars and people who wanted to give me tours, that I came back and took a cab to the National Museum. The potential tour folks are like those experienced in other countries...start up a conversation, see why you are here, and what you want to see and then, offer their services.

Photos coming after dinner...IF Big Brother allows me to return to my blog.

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