TWENTIETH MOVEMENT: ETHIOPIA
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
I woke up at 07:00, showered, got ready, packed my bags, checked out of the lodge, and had a taxi take me to the airport at 08:00. The Nairobi traffic was horrendous and it took about ninety minutes to reach Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. I then checked in, passed through immigration, and waited to board my flight. While waiting, I had an Americano and a beer to pass the time. At 10:35, I passed through the security checkpoint at the gate and then boarded the Boeing 737-800, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, at 10:55. At 11:35, the aircraft took off down the runway and headed toward Addis Ababa. During the flight, I had a meal of chicken biryani, bread and butter, a muffin, coffee, and a miniature bottle of Merlot; later on I had a miniature bottle of Chardonnay; all the while I kept eying one flight stewardess who had a classical look to her (think Greek or Roman sculptures), a cute smile, and beautiful curly hair; she was quite stunning and the first of many gorgeous Ethiopian women I would come across (I think I’ll like this country).
A note on Kenya: Sadly, when I built my world itinerary, I went off of recent news stories and I knew Kenya was marred by problems (especially in the northern part of the country) and I half expected to come to a dystopian shithole; however, I found Kenya to be quite beautiful, friendly, and rather nice (although I spent little time downtown and most time in the Karen neighborhood); also, after talking with the New Zealand woman, I really wish I had given myself more time to see beyond Nairobi and to do a safari in one of Kenya’s great parks (like the Maasai Mara National Reserve, like she had done) and to see more of the countryside. Now, just as it is with Taiwan and Sri Lanka (two other beautiful countries I spent precious little time in), I have a desire to come back one day and properly explore Kenya.
We landed in Addis Ababa just after 13:00; I passed through the Ebola screening, bought my Visa, and then was stamped in through Immigration. I then grabbed my bag, grabbed cash at an ATM, and then went outside. I asked one taxi driver what the fare would be to take me to my lodge and was quoted 450 Ethiopian birrs (roughly $22 USD); I thought this was too much and after paying so much in Nairobi I was kind of sick of using taxis; so, I decided to walk out of the airport parking lot; one taxi driver followed me and I listened as the price dropped from 400 to 250 to 150, but I was determined now to walk to my hotel; after all, I had nothing else planned today and it really wasn’t that far away. So, I walked out of the airport and followed the highway west; I knew I would be better off walking in the sun anyway, getting some fine exercise with the 32 kilograms or so I was carrying on me, and I figured the taxi drivers would be better off not getting my fare, perhaps making them all a bit wiser, and in the future they may offer more fair and realistic fares from the start instead; perhaps, if they are wise, they will employ meters in the future; of course not everyone has wisdom and those that do seldom ever use it for any type of self-evaluation or critique of oneself; so, they will probably all continue doing what they’re doing and never learn to improve. Anyway, I walked west for some time, passed a stream, walked through a neighborhood, walked on to another highway that had construction crews tearing out old railroad tracks and putting in new ones in between the lanes, crossed this highway, and then followed another road west. Then, I made the mistake of turning right on to the first solid road I came across, which was just short of turning on to the road I needed to take; so I walked down the wrong road, walked around, asked directions (no one uses street names here), bought a water and Red Bull, talked with some shoe shiners, then circled around, and finally noticed a mosque that was described in the directions to the hotel on their hostels.com page. I then walked toward the mosque on a dirt road and finally reached the solid road I should’ve taken in the first place (on the positive side, I got to know the neighborhood pretty well and found out where more high class hotels and restaurants are located). Finally, after three hours of walking, I reached the hotel; I then checked in, dropped my bags off in the room, had some water and beer, and then had dinner (pasta with meat sauce and two pieces of bread (one with mold spots, the other clean)). After dinner, I retired to my room to relax and eventually fall asleep.