Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ethiopia 2017 - Day 1. Addis Ababa

After a grueling 24 hours of travel I finally landed in Addis Ababa, at about 5:30 am of June 16. The trip involved a 10 hour layover in Beijing. I tried to get out into the city, but it was a very warm day and there were no convenient tourist buses I could take. Besides, the money exchange outfits wanted an outrageous commission of US$10 to exchange a US$20 bill, so I decided to bag that idea and bored myself in the airport (boring is a relative term, since I had my vast collection of audiobooks to keep me entertained).

I flew to Addis with Ethiopian Airlines, which was actually very comfortable. I saw a cool movie produced in Uganda called “K3NT & KAT3”. It is about a 10-year old boy, Kent, who is dyslexic and is thought to be an impossibly poor student. His best friend is an orphan girl named Kate. Together they get in a fair amount of trouble until one of their teachers discovers that Kent is a gifted pianist. From there on Kent receives special instruction and starts to perform well in school. Kate, however, overhears a conversation in which her foster mom tells the landlord that she does not have the 10 million Ugandan shilling she owes for the rent, and his angry response with an ultimatum “pay by the end of next week or I will evict you!” Kent saves the day by entering the contest “Uganda Has Talent” and winning the big 10 million shillings price! It is not great cinematography, but was an excellent way of priming me for my African adventures.

My friend Dr. Getachew Tikubet was going to send someone to meet me at the airport, but of course he didn’t. So, after waiting for nearly two hours I took a cab to a downtown motel, where I am sitting to write this blog. I have a 5th floor room with a great view over the nice part of Addis (the so-called embassies row, along Bole Rd.). My, how has Addis changed in 17 years! There are lots of new buildings and more are going up, Bole Rd. is spotlessly clean and adorned with beautiful trees, and the people look happy and prosperous. I am sure I will have a great time here.  

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