S: ETHIOPIA 2011 Dr. Michelle Bahn Palma and Lindsay Bahn
FC: Ethiopia 2011 Dr. Michelle Bahn Palma and Lindsay Bahn
2: Monday, May 30 Lindsay has farewell coffee with the girls at BFR and then joins the family for an American breakfast at mom and dad’s before Michelle drives to Chicago. We walk through the airport anticipating a long flight and grab a late lunch at Chili’s before boarding our plane for Frankfurt. Michelle sits next to a man that plays an airplane game with a joystick on his laptop while Lindsay strikes up conversation about beer with the hottie from Texas, headed to Poland, across the aisle (little did she know that he’d be the last attractive white boy she’d see for nearly a month). As usual, there is no shortage of screaming children nearby. They feed us dinner (and an impressive amount of snacks, wine, beer, etc.), we watch “The Tourist”, take a nap, read, eat breakfast and wake up in Germany.
3: Tuesday, May 31 23.9.03 During our layover we attempt to gain entry to the Sky Lounge but are rapidly dismissed as the one day passes we have are not sufficient. The counter help gives us a consolation prize of gummi bears and sends us on our way. However, Lindsay has noted the wireless internet password and we set up camp outside of the club, remaining in network range. We wander through the airport counting turbans before taking a long and necessary nap on the loungers. Thankfully, we wake with sufficient time to catch our next flight but first attempt to retrieve the sweatshirt that Lindsay carelessly left in the plane’s overhead compartment. After waiting in line for far too long, we learn that our plane is nearly to Mexico and we must submit an email to the company if we wish to get it back. We take a bus to our next plane and are happy to find that we are sitting in adjacent seats with no middle aged video game junkies nearby. Again, we are fed a great meal, watch a movie (“No Strings Attached”, which we both love), take a nap (Lindsay does, at least, while Michelle watches “The Backup Plan”), have a snack and prepare for arrival. selam: peace, traditional greeting selamnesh, selamno We arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at 9pm, obtain visas and clear customs without difficulty. Stephanie and Angie are waiting with open arms. Lindsay comments on the freshness of the air outside of the airport, only to learn that the pollution in Addis is so severe that living here and regularly breathing the smoggy air, thick with diesel exhaust, is equivalent to smoking five cigarettes a day. Silas, our driver, takes us to the home of Hannah and her son Samuel, who is studying for his upcoming test that will determine his placement for continuing education. Messie and Helen, their family members and house helpers, make the traditional welcome foods of popcorn and coffee, which is roasted in the living room and ground fresh. We stay up late chatting and have a slumber party on the floor.
8: During our massages, Angie calls Stephanie to tell her that she had been robbed. She was in a public transportation van when several individuals who seemed to be collaborating put on an elaborate show (seat changes, distractions [i.e. asking the time and “vomiting”], ejecting them from the vehicle) with the intention of stealing her wallet. They are successful and she spends the afternoon not only trying to find a police officer with whom to file a report (the individuals that need to officiate her report are not available until Monday so it will undoubtedly take several days to work things out), but also going to the American Embassy to try and get a new passport - all without any money and a jaded view of Addis and the people in it. We return to Mr. Martin’s to diffuse Michelle’s anger and then take a taxi to Rodeo Addis for lunch. Lindsay’s food arrives more than 15 minutes after Stephanie and Michelle’s, after they are both done eating. However, the food is great (stroganoff, sandwiches and fries) and the atmosphere, including a table of cute ferenge boys, makes us feel right at home. To top it off, the owner gives Lindsay the St. George’s beer glass she was drinking from. From there, we walk to Shoa for cookies and the Browns and Karnes pick us up with Gaucho to run some errands. We drop the Bowers’ luggage off at the SIM guesthouse and look around, stop at Bambi’s for groceries, get ice cream at Bruno’s (another five-star recommendation from Wendy) and go plant shopping for Alice, who plans to write “Soddo Christian Hospital” in red plants on the hospital grounds.
9: After dropping the others off at the Norwegian guest house and saying goodbye, Gaucho drops us off at the Sheraton so that we can see the true luxury in Addis. The hotel and surrounding gardens are gorgeous - and expensive. The cheapest room exceeds $500 a night! This is where Brangelina stayed while they were in Ethiopia adopting a child. Our night ends, appropriately, with another meal at Island Breeze. We have more nachos, onions rings, buffalo wings and a salad for our last meal before leaving Ethiopia. Right before going to the airport, we pick Angie up to say goodbye. We say goodbye to the girls that kept us sane for the last 19 days and eagerly proceed to security at the airport for our journey home. Our flight from Addis to Frankfurt leaves shortly after expected, nearly midnight. We are surprisingly served a hot meal long after takeoff. Also, to our surprise, we are still awake and stay up listening to music and watching TV and movies. Sunday, June 19 We sleep for a short time before we are woken up for yet another meal. We enjoy our breakfast, watch some more TV and land in Frankfurt. We return to our wireless hot spot before proceeding to our gate, where we are entertained by potty-mouthes soldiers that are returning home. The gate announcer is desperately looking for individuals to take the same flight tomorrow, offering 600 Euros, meal coupons and a hotel voucher for those willing to change their travel plans. We agree that you couldn’t pay us enough to stay any longer! Our flight for Chicago leaves as scheduled. Lindsay exits the bathroom to find Michelle chatting with an eccentric German man that proceeds to talk for far longer than we are interested in listening. We are promptly served drinks and a snack, followed by a meal. Lindsay takes a nap and awakes to find Michelle surrounded by two flight attendants and our seat neighbor (a paramedic). They are offering her Coca-Cola and oxygen to diffuse her nausea, but decline her request for a place to lie flat. She continues to feel ill for the remainder of the flight, convinced that she is going to “have a seizure in the bathroom and choke on [her] tongue”. We land in Chicago on time and are, for a change, treated like royalty for being American citizens. We bypass the long “visitor” line and proceed to the short US citizen line, where we quickly pass through customs and wait for our luggage. A teary-eyed Penny and Nicole (not teary-eyed, of course) are waiting when we exit. We walk to the parking lot (easier said than done, several detours later) and find Bob and Grandma Neitzke waiting for us. We are so happy to be back on American soil!