August 19, 2008  (Last day on the continent) Tuesday

Have some runny tummy again. 4th time this trip. I’ve also lost 20 pounds according to Alistair’s scale and I look much thinner with my shirt off. I knew from my loose pants several weeks ago. My taxi man, Solomon will pick me up about 10AM. I want to buysome coffee and cardomon but will have to change some money to get through the day. Ali and I will go out to supper again tonight , my treat. Solomon wants to take me to see the black maned lions at the zoo. I’ll give him a couple of shirts and my sandals before leaving. It will also lighten my load. My plane will leave at 10:15 to night. I do get a confirmation this AM. Driving in Addis. Donkeys carrying grain sacks, no apparent herdsman. Sanitation truck flushing out sewers, women looking homeless sitting on sidewalks. Lots of streams coming in from surrounding hills, lots of water from recent rains. It is cool and wet in town. Several gentle rains each day. Sometimes with accompanying thunder. Islamic and Coptic women in white, sidewalk preachers and holy men, broad sidewalks, high rises, wide streets, medieval streets branching off, Russian Lada taxis, blue and white. Dogs well fed a la Tibet. Interesting races of dogs probably abandoned by Italians years ago and mixed breeding. Amharic and English signs.

In the Hilton I meet a Dad from Austin here to adopt a little boy named Tofik. Solomon is buying batteries for my camera and hanging out until I get out of this office. We go to a bad botanical gardens across town. Stay only a short time but a great tour of the city in the trip there. Best balancing act a man with a fifty five gallon oil drum, empty, on his head, riding on the back of a motorcycle. This I saw in the Congo twice. People living in a makeshift tent made of scrap material in the shape of an igloo. Street vendors of everything carried on backs and in their arms. Someone always hoping to sell a map of Africa to a tourist. At a stoplight, I give some money to a mother with a child on her back and the car is instantly descended up on by an army of beggars. Solomon not disturbed , but I indicated to him that I wouldn’t do it again unless we were ready to take off. The fact that we had to sit in the intersection for another five minutes exacerbated the situation. Picked up a few more crosses for gifts, then told Solomon to head home and we would stop for coffee to drink
and to take home.. We drank at Kaldi’s near the compound and bought several pounds at the grocery next door. They also had spices, so I got the cardoman and tea and tea spice. When I ordered the macchiado coffee I asked to watch how it is made so I could try to imitate the receipe.

Solomon plays some good Ethiopian music on his cassette in the taxi. I ask him about buying some. No problem. He’s on the phone about 20 seconds and tells me, “He’s on the way.” We drive a block and a guy comes out of a building and has a stack of DVD’’s they all appear to be bootleg, but I have little choice in the matter and pay $10 for four. And we go back to Alistair’s. Solomon and I struggle a bit with the English language. It’s the only one we have in common. He addresses me as ‘Gentleman’ to indicate the way in which we communicate. This rather than ‘sir’ or ‘mister’ or my first name. That evening Alistair and I go to a farewell supper at a different German restaurant. We’re the only foreigners, ‘ferengi’ in the place. Most are student age. We have pepper steaks and share a plate of Zilil tibes , an Ethiopian type of long strips of meat grilled and served with an Ethiopian pancake and hot sauce to dip. Didn’t care much for the cold cre’pe. We finished off and Alistair got me to the airport by 8;15, but warned me that the Ethiopians didn’t much approve of bootlegging Ethiopian music. So I got cold feet standing in the check in screening and dumped three of the four DVD’s. The ticket counter was fast and gave me my boarding pass without delay. Third level was immigration also a breeze as I had filled out the exit form with a light colored yellow ink that the immigration officer admired, so I traded her my pen for her pen which was darker and more readable, and she waved me through after stamping my passport. From immigration I went to the international lounge where I was unable to use the $16 in local currency that I’m still carrying. I’ll use it next year if I return to Addis. We leave by 10:30PM Addis time and land in Rome to refuel and change crews at 3:30am. We’re now over the north Atlantic at 4:00AM, eastern US time.

The sun has been up since crossing Europe. It is a day that a Spanair flight crashes leaving Madrid with 153 killed. Four hours remain before arrival at Dulles at 8:30AM. My seat mate is a 30 year old Ethiopian male who has been visiting family in Addis. He lives in Cincinnati with his sister and works in the parking garage business as do so many Ethiopians in Ohio. Not as many Anglos going back as were going over in July. There is an unusual group of older Mennonites or Church of the Brethren, women in bonnets, some bonnets white, others black. Man is dressed conservatively with a black hat. I think they are Canadian as they do not go through the US citizen lines at US immigration. Some of the women are young and others are 40 something, all wearing running shoes and long dresses. Maybe 15 orphans and their adoptive parents. One little girl I feel sorry for, as the mother is not at all sympathetic and the little girl looks afraid. Not the same bonding that the others seemto have made. According to the map on the TV monitor, we are passing somewhat south of the southern tip of Greenland, but It is too cloudy below to make out any land. I remember once doing this flight in the 80’s or 90’s and we could see icebergs. But it may have been a more northern route flown by KLM in those days. At the bead and silver shop I tried to trade my Case knife with the owner. He said it was a good knife but he wasn’t interested. I asked him what I could bring next year that he would want. He said an Arsenal football club jersey. That’s a brit team, probably not readily available in the States. Arsenal is very popular in Africa. I wold guess it is because there may be some African international players on that team.

Coming over Newfoundland at 6:00Am Clouds all the way from Rome to Quebec. Hurricane said to be coming toward the Keys in Florida. The season of storms. Ome holes I thje cluds over Maine and maybe on north to Quebec. Geographic landmarks I can recognize, Isle d’orleans near Quebec City, long Pond, PA (Pocono Raceway), 3 Mile Island near Harrisburg, PA, Wheeling WVA, Buckeye Lake, OSU, French Fieldhouse and Ohio Stadium, E.J. Brown rsevoir, Urbana, OH In Country Washington Dulles Here for three hours. I talked to a nun who was on our flight from Ethiopia. She was in southern Ethiopia for two weeks at a sisters of the Sacred Heart mission. She’s a trained nurse, although she doesn’t do that anymore in upstate, NY where she’s based. She’s been going there every summer for the last seven years. Originally form norhter Spain and had spent eight years in Montrel. I’m not used to the quantities of food or the prices , and esp. that I can now pay with a credit card. I haven’t had mine out since July 6. The card company is probably calling to offer me lower rates.

Haven’t called home as I’m w/o a cell phone and I’m sure they k now my arrival time and date although I haven’t emailed since I left Kigali on Saturday. Security lines here are as slow as Africa and we have to do it all over , as I’m sure they don’t trust the thoroughness of Africa. Still I’m a lot more relaxed as it is more predictable here. In Africa I’m never entirely sure of what is going on or if it is working in my favor. Thought I might have trouble staying awake for four hours, but it’s not a problem. Walked out to our small commuter jet that would take us to Dayton from Dulles. The captain was on a ladder cleaning the windshield. The co-plot said that if they waited for the ground crew , it would never get done.

Am I home or am I still in Africa? Bright and sunny,my tired eyes need sunglasses. Got a window on the single seat port side of the plane. Sixty minutes to Dayton, and the end of 16,000 miles.

Ice in my drink. I’m home.


August 21, 2008
August 19, 2008
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July 30, 2008
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June 19, 2008