January 23, 2015

Axum, Ethiopia

I woke up at about 08:00, got ready with no running water, packed my bags, and checked out of the hotel at 10:00. I had found out what the actual price would be to take a tuk-tuk to the airport in Axum from the hotel receptionist before setting out; after asking several tuk-tuks to take me to the airport and being quoted 50-100 birr when it should’ve been 40 birr, I became resolute to just walk the six kilometers or so there (let them hang around and jaw-jack with each other instead of making money). So I walked out of the town, past a pond used for washing vehicles, and past pastoral landscapes of farms and goat and sheep herds; I also passed many children conditioned to ask foreign (i.e. white) travelers for pens and money; this is like being on the Annapurna Circuit again, but worse. Finally, after about ninety minutes of walking, I reached the airport, where I was subjected to more intrusive searches than one would find in America with our shameful Department of Homeland Security. After, having my bag and money (yep, money) searched, I walked upstairs to the restaurant and ordered a beer and macaroni with meat sauce; it’s a good thing I was busy reading, otherwise I probably would’ve been irate that macaroni with meat sauce took over an hour to make when I was the only one there who had even ordered food. After eating that pathetic meal and having two more beers, I went downstairs, checked in, and then finished reading Hemingway’s ‘The Dangerous Summer’, which I enjoyed quite a lot, learning more about Spanish bullfighting (at least how it was done in 1959) and Hemingway’s lifestyle as he traveled around Spain that summer. Finally, the gate waiting area opened at 16:30 and I went through more intrusive searches (it’s a small airport, so i guess they have to keep themselves busy in order to sleep well at night), waited to board the Ethiopian Airlines Bombardier Q400, and then did so. At 17:30, we took off and flew to Addis Ababa; during the flight I had a muffin and pineapple juice. We landed about an hour and ten minutes later; idiotically the passengers and I were all sent through Immigration even though we had just flown from Ethiopia to Ethiopia, but soon they realized they were idiots and let us through. I then grabbed my checked baggage and walked from the domestic terminal to the international terminal. I went through more security nonsense, checked in, and then officially immigrated out of Ethiopia (this made me happy after all the events of today and many of the past events in Addis Ababa); unfortunately, I was still in Ethiopia for a few more hours; I tried to spend the rest of my birrs at the restaurants, but they were ludicrously overpriced (like many other airports, but come on, this is still Ethiopia; a 14 birr beer should not cost 76 or 115 birr; I don’t even think beers sold in American airports are five to eight times the normal price, though i could be wrong on this); so I went to a duty free shop and bough water and crème cookies; I tried to buy chocolate, but for some reason I could only pay in USD or Euros for that and other items in the shop. Then, with eighty birr left, I relented and bought a beer. After that refreshment, I went to the gate waiting area, read some of T.E. Lawrence’s ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’, and eventually was bussed to the airplane, a Boeing 737-800 operated by Ethiopian Airlines. The aircraft took off after 22:30; we were given a meal of chicken biryani, sliced fruit, bread and butter, crackers and cheese, and beans and legumes mixed with mustard. I also had two miniature bottles of Chardonnay, one miniature bottle of Merlot, and a cup of coffee. The aeroplane flew past Ethiopia, over Sudan, and in to Egypt . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

An open journal or an exercise in narcissism.