Sunday, September 03, 2006

Addis Ababa

(written: 8/31/06)

A few days ago, I was sitting in the Ethiopian Airlines office, making my travel booking for plane travel between Dar es Salaam and Addis Ababa. I wanted to leave as soon as possible - I tried for the 30th, but there were no seats available. The first economy class seats weren't available until September 7th. I had already been to Kenya Airways, and flying from Dar to Addis would require an overnight layover in Nairobi, which I also wasn't so keen on. I left Ethiopian Airlines sad, and defeated, and was going to go back to Kenya Airways and book the overnight flight.

But, I was right across from the Royal Palm Hotel, and I thought I might stop there and pick up some postcards. On my way to the gift shop, I spied with my little eye Rickshaw Travels. I figured I would go ahead and give it a try. Sadly, they told me the same thing that Ethiopian Air told me - the soonest I could get an economy ticket without an overnight in Nairobit was September 7th.


There was one (1) business class ticket available for August 31st. The price of the business class ticket was just over my projected price for the ticket AND the difference in the two prices was only $100.00. It would cost more than US $100 to sit in Dar for week, and I would lose time. Thus justifying the expense to myself (and hopefully my granting organization), I purchased the business class ticket.

Upon check-in today, I discovered that my seat was 1C. Now, I don't know if it's that the plane simply doesn't have a first class section, or if they accidently put me in first class, or what, but all I knows is that I have now been giving all of the perks that any international first class traveller gets.

What kind of perks, you might ask?

1) I didn't have to wait in line to check in. I just stepped into the "Cloud Nine" line and checked in.

2) overweight baggage? No problems, no fees. Everything just checked right through.

3) I could sit in front of the duty free shop with the unwashed masses. But, thanks to my "Tanzanite Lounge Pass", I get to sit in the special first class lounge. I've always sort of wondered what it was like in there, and now I can tell you that it's just this side of paradise. There are free food and drinks to be had, big comfy leather chairs to sink into, bathrooms where you aren't afraid to sit on the toilet, free newspapers and magazine, and it's all topped off by big screen television. I could even indulge in some free cocktails, should I so choose. Not bad, I tell you. Not. bad.

4) Air conditioning. And it's very very hot and humid today. I feel sorry for the poor slobs upstairs who have to travel with their own money as opposed to that of the US Government and very rich private foundations.

Note to self: become faithful to a single airline so that I can qualify for all of the perks of super-duper frequent fliers.

* * * * * * *

(written: 9/2/06)

While I was on the plane, I took advantage of their free literature. They had copies of Time and Newsweek for their first class passengers to peruse. Never one to turn down free reading material, I took one of each. I noted that the cover story of Newsweek was about the growing number of couples around that world that are making the decision to remain childless. I figured it would be a good article, so I flipped directly to page 50 and began reading.

As opposed to presenting a nice, well-presented article about the changing role of women in the family unit (greater education, unwillingness to give up a role in the workplace), the rise in the expense of having children (feeding, clothing, and educating them), the possible benefits to having a society that is operating as less than replacement (less crowding, more jobs, less strain on the environment), the article focused on ways to entice people to have more children. The article discussed possible tax incentives for families with three or more children, tax penalties on those households with no children, and the like. The article took a stand that it is absolutely necessary for us to keep having many children, without presenting any empirical evidence to support that, other than the idea that with fewer children, there will be fewer working adults paying into social security.

Disappointing. Very disappointing.

In other news, Ethiopia is rainy and cold. Very rainy, and very cold. I wish I had socks, closed toes shoes, and a heavier jacket. There is not a lot to do here, and my digestive system has been rebelling against me so I have elected to spend this Saturday inside, playing solitaire, reading my book and watching television. Permits proved to be ridicuilously easy and no one gave me any trouble, so I start work on Monday. Hopefully I'll be finished by Friday and back in Nairobi on Saturday.

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