Once we deplaned in Addis Ababa we took a bus over to the terminal.
Fortunately we already had our visas and although we accidently stood
in that line for a few minutes, it definitely would have made our
airport time a whole lot longer. We made it through customs and our
bags arrived without difficulty which I think is helped by the fact
that we had a direct flight. Last time, they lost one of my bags for a
week or so. Ang and I attempted to exchange some money at the airport
and by the time we got to the front of the line, she told us she was
out of money. This was our first true Ethiopian experience. She
exchanged a little money for each of us and we are definitely grateful
that the American dollar is so strong here so the exchange rate is
good (1 USD: 16.2 Ethiopian birr). We had enough to make it through
our first week, though, which was really the important thing.
Nick and Brian got our bags loaded on carts and we headed to the next
line: sending ALL bags through x-ray prior to leaving the airport. The
line was LONG. This was partially because there was a second line
feeding into ours that was full of people cutting in front of the rest
of us. I knew we would literally never get through because the people
cutting in line were putting all their bags right on the conveyer belt
so people in our line never had a chance to make it. I went up to one
side of the belt and started pushing bags from the bottom up to the
belt and through the x-ray machine. There were a few fairly verbal
Ethiopians talking to the line who were clearing trying to cut in
front of everyone else, but I just kept quiet and pushed bags through.
After 5-10 minutes our bags were on and we headed through the line.
They pulled the stander off the belt and had a lot of questions about
it. I tried to explain that I was a physical therapist and that it was
a piece of equipment to help children. The gentleman wanted to open it
to inspect which was fine with me. He started cutting the tape off and
I asked if he would please reseal it when he was done. He looked at me
and said, “I don’t know.” Ha, this obviously equates to no. I’m not
sure he ever decided that he was really comfortable with it, but he
let me take it, unsealed and all, out towards the exit.
Nick and I came out of the secured area and I heard someone yell my
name. I looked over and Bisrat was standing right next to Tom. Bisrat
is the one that assisted with interpreting our caregiver education
program when Keely and I were here last time. Although he was there to
pick a few other people up, it was great to see him. We all connected
with Tom and were on our way. The Land Rover that Sally and Tom own
barely fit our belongings with a little pushing and shoving and it
meant that Nick and I sat in the backseat and Ang and Brian sat in the
one front seat together. We only made it about 5 minutes before a
police officer chased us down. He spoke very little English but enough
to tell us that we had “three mistakes.” Two people in the front seat,
too much stuff in the car (um, seriously? I have seen Ethiopians pile
by the tens in cars filled to the brim with different items and even
live animals), and Tom did not have his driver’s license in the car.
He had just picked it up from the shop the day before and had
forgotten to put it back in. The police officer hopped a ride in
someone else’s car that he flagged down on the side of the road and
had us follow him. We made it to a corner and at this point there were
three police officers. Their final decision was to take Tom’s license
plates and have him come back to pay a fine after he dropped us off.
We were then on our way- still with two people in the front seat and
all of our belongings stuffed into the car. We made it to Sally and
Tom’s with no other commotion, but that is definitely a way to be
broken into Ethiopia quickly!
We are in charge of the shoe distribution with one other girl this
week, Hayley. She is one of the founders of the Davis Moon Project, a
non-profit organization that provides books and school supplies to
schools and communities here in Ethiopia. Together we sorted and
pulled the shoes we needed for our first distribution, a school of 120
young children. Of course we approximate sizes and bring extras
knowing we can’t be exactly sure of size needs.
Brian, Ang, Nick and I are staying out in an area called Tafo, 20 or
so minutes outside the city. We’re staying at Tom and Sally’s old
house in the two rooms in the servant’s quarters. We have twin size
bunkbeds in each. We are SO grateful, and surprised, really, by the
fact that we have had fairly consistent electricity (it has only
turned off once that we know of that lasted just a short time) AND hot
water! We feel very spoiled from what we expected to be living in. Our
neighborhood is called RoPac and everyone has seemed really nice.
We’re about 20 minutes or so from Dahley, the rural community where
Sally and Tom work. Once we arrived at RoPac, we crashed REALLY early
and slept for quite awhile. We are on a 10 hour time difference from
home, so we feel like we’re living almost opposite schedules as our
bodies are used to, so we were hoping by sleeping early and getting up
in the morning we would have kicked the jet lag quickly.