Monday, September 11, 2006

Happy Ethiopian New Year

So, there was nowhere in Addis except for the really expensive Sheraton Hotel that had fast enough internet to get into Blogger. Well, apparently except for the airport, which is where I am typing this missive. Internet cafes in airports = BEST IDEA EVER.

Without further ado, I give you Even More Things I've Learned in Ethiopia.

1. Taxis are really, really scary.
Did I mention that the seatbelts don't work in most, if not all of them? Ther was a tense moment in a traffic circle the other day where I thought I was going head first into the windshield.

2. It's 1999!
According to the Ethiopian calendar, that is. And let me tell you, they partied like it's 1999. I was awoken at midnight from a deep slumber by fireworks so powerful, my floor seemed to be shaking. Also, fyi, it's a bad day to be a small ungulate generally raised for consumption. Yesterday, there were little tiny herds of the woolly critters roaming all over the place. Today? There are piles of skins. But I got a really cute leather purse the other day! Cheap, too.

3. Dan Brown is part of the evil empire.
By the evil empire, I am referring to particular American goods/stores/music/etc. that end up all over the world. I ran out of books to read the other night, so I went in search of an English language bookstore. I was not in luck. This is perhaps because, unlike Kenya and Dar es Salaam, English is not one of Ethiopia's national languages. This means that my only options were the books available in the Hilton and Sheraton hotels. Let me tell you, the selection was grim. Both hotels must be supplied by the same book supplier, because they had almost identical titles. There were a wide variety of NGO/International Development books and academic journals. (Many of the NGO folk stay at the Hilton and Sheraton hotels. Now, WHY people in international development non-profit work would stay in the two most expensive hotels in Addis - $170/night and $230/night respectively, obscene prices for Africa - is a rant for another entry. Let's just say it makes me think twice before donating.) There were also copies of books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad and He's Just Not That Into You. Obviously, there were the requiste Africa picture books for toting home as a souvenir. But the novel department was slim pickings. They had ever book that Dan Brown has ever written, and one battered copy of Black Beauty.

It's true, I bought Digital Fortress. It was not good, but better than nothing.

4. Addis is cold.
Especially when you've come from Nairobi or Dar es Salaam. Or both. Brrrrrrrrrrr.

5. Even when you think permits have gone well, they haven't.
I have a crazy day of flying today, because i had to prolong my stay here. Why? Last Friday, I was told that my permits were all in order, everything was hunky-dory, heck, you can even work on the weekends! I was happy. I booked a ticket to Nairobi for Friday (two days ago), I book my ticket home for Monday (today) and went blithely on my merry way.

On Wednesday, I was informed that I needed an extra special letter. Why this could have been mentioned on FRIDAY is beyond me. So, I scrambled, and changed my ticket back to Nairobi. That was free. But to change my ticket HOME would be another $200 that I don't really want to pay. Therefore, I've opted for a crazy travel day. Unfotunately, there are some things that I wanted to take care of in Nairobi, but I'm not going to have the chance to do that. I might talk to the KLM people once I get to Nairobi and see about changing my flight to tomorrow so I can do things properly.

I WOULD just come back through Nairobi in January when I have to go to South Africa, but those jerks only gave me a three month permit instead of a 3 YEAR permit. If I can figure out how to get that extended, I might try and do that. Then I could take a trip to Lamu. :)

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