I was pleasantly surprised how much easier a 13 hour plane ride is vs 2 8 hour stints with a 4 hour layover. But regardless, I will never be able to fit comfortable in those seats. I am just too long. A few notes from the journey.
- People are at their worst in an airport. We did not realize the unique requirements of Ethiopian air, which is ONE carry on under 20 pounds. Well, we both had two. So that meant we had to do a lot of rearranging in the middle of the line of people… talk about hanging out your dirty laundry for everyone to see. I will admit, I was annoyed. I started to give the employee attitude and then realize it would do no good, so I put my pleasant face on and said “no problem” and really, it was not a problem. But as we are arranging luggage, others are freaking out at staff. Yelling, demanding, annoyed. I vowed then and there to be a cheerful traveler. Lines, no problem. Searching of bags, my pleasure. Paying $15 for a bag of trail mix and some gum, gladly.
- The sunrise, over the African continent from the window of the airplane is breathtaking.
- Tipping. I just do not live in a world of tipping. I drive myself and carry my stuff. So when I take a taxi or a shuttle, I am at a loss what to give the drivers. And rarely am I prepared with cash. Today at the airport in Addis, an employee came to help us with our luggage while still in the terminal. We thought it was because we had a bad cart and he was trying to fix it. Well, he was really just trying to get a tip. There were 2 long lines to exit the airport (luggage has to be x-rayed on the way out. He pushed us to the front of the line, cutting in front of people who were quite upset. Truly we had no idea what was going on and were fine to wait in line. Then we were told to give some man 5 birr. So I handed him my lowest bill… 10 birr. “NO” he stated, that was not good enough, he wanted $5. Which I did not have. So he told me 20 birr so I gave it to him (he was wearing a uniform and it had the word cashier sewed onto it. Plus we had already cut in line so I figured I better pay him). Then the first guy is still pushing our luggage on the cart and we are arrive in the main airport area. Hundreds of people are waiting behind a rope for their loved ones and this guy is tell us we need to pay him 20 dollars. I say “no, I will give you 20 Birr” He gets angry and says, “100 Birr” And then I am really mad because we did not want his help in the first place so I said “you are NOT going to take advantage of me because I am a foreigner. Here is 20 Birr you can have that or nothing.” The people around us were laughing and in my mind were very proud of me. The guys stormed off.
- No matter how far you have traveled, no matter how little you have slept our how greasy you feel an Ethiopian Macchiato can solve all your problems.
- Never ever think, no matter how nice your hotel that there will be hot water. Or even water. We had none. I am hopeful for the morning.
We are headed to bed, after trying to stay awake for church, taking an afternoon nap and eating a small dinner at a local sandwich shop playing a football game, we are exhausted. Jill is calling me to sit on the balcony for a few minutes to enjoy the Addis night and then we are off to bed. Hopefully 12 hours of sleep and we will wake up prepared to train for the next 4 days!