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
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
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
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
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
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
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 19, 2008
August 15, 2008
August 14, 2008
August 13, 2008
August 10, 2008
August 9, 2008
August 8, 2008
August 7, 2008
August 4, 2008
August 3, 2008
August 2, 2008
July 30, 2008
July 29, 2008
July 28, 2008
July 10, 2008
June 19, 2008