June 23, 2011
Arrival in Addis Ababa
Dear Family and Friends,
After an exceptionally long trip I finally landed in Addis Ababa at 7:30 in the morning on June 23, 2011. I have to say, I really liked taking Ethiopian Air. I was reluctant at first because of all the trouble I have when I take them from Addis to Mekelle. But flying across the world in their 777 was quite comfortable and the service was very nice.
Of course when I arrived, it took me forever to get to the baggage claim. In Ethiopia, the Ethiopians have no concept of courtesy and they push and shove you all around. You literally have to fight your way through the people to get to your luggage and fight for a cart to carry your luggage through customs. I’m getting ahead of myself; I need to back up by an hour or so. For this trip I decided to get my visitor’s visa at the airport. I will say this is also better to get your visa at the airport than to go through the Ethiopian Embassy in America. It was only $20 dollars versus $75. Getting it was very easy and the line went decently fast. After I fought my way through the baggage claim I had to stand in line for a long, long, and I mean long time to put my luggage through the scanner. Well over an hour I stood there waiting. I was tired and my body needed a bath. My head hurt too. When I got through to put my baggage through the scanner I knew I would be tagged by customs to open my suitcases and have them look at the instruments. I was tagged and sent over to customs for further inspection. I waited, waited, waited and waited some more. The one guy kept saying give us just one minute, which means that could be endless. I finally got annoyed because I knew people were waiting for me in the airport to pick me up. I asked, “Can you please go a little faster?” “Just wait one more minute, madam, we will get to you.” I waited more. There were 4 custom officers and only one person was doing all the checking. This one person had to write up a voucher for every piece of property she was checking. This means, they hand write each voucher by putting carbon in between three pieces of paper and writing down all the information. This takes FOREVER!!!! One after another the custom officer did. The other custom officers stood around and talked. They took my passport. I asked, “Where is my passport?” They couldn’t find it. It had wondered off with one of the officers. I made them go and get it. Finally they got to me. I think it was an hour later. Of course each and every flute had to be checked. I’ve gone through these 3 previous times from my other trips and this wasn’t going to be any different. I was annoyed, tired, dirty, and had a headache. After flute number 15 I said,” enough, they’re all flutes. I’m a flute teacher; I’m going to Adigrat to work with the sisters and the orphans. Please let us wrap this up I’ve got people waiting on me who have been waiting for hours!!!” “Just one minute, madam”. “No, no more minutes, I have someone waiting for me, its been over 2 hours and I’m concerned for them.” The custom officer said, “You need to pay tax on these instruments before I will let them go into the country.” “The hell I do!” I said. “These are not gifts, I am not going to sell them, these are my flutes and I’m bringing them for the students to learn. I’m not going to pay any tax on anything!!!” I think my assertive mannerisms made her back off and she said, “Ok, madam, you can go.” And that was it.
I packed up my things, angry, scowling at the officers, took my passport, and headed out to find Sister Froweyni and Yared. I found Sr. Froweyni right away. She said, “I have a hotel for you, let us go.” “Oh Sr. Froweyni, nobody told me you would get a hotel so I made arrangements for Abel Ghirmai’s family to take me to their home for my stay in Addis. I’m so sorry, I didn’t know.” Then she said, “I waited for you since 7am.” “Oh how sorry I am for that I landed at 7:30 but it has taken me 3 hours to get through the gate, I’m so sorry Sr. Froweyni.” “That’s ok Celine, no problem.” Then at that time, Yared approached me, “Are you Celine?” “Yes, I am” and we greet each other. “Sr. Froweyni, I had no idea about this hotel, please forgive me for causing you any inconvenience.” “No matter Celine, I will tell them you can’t make it.” “Ok”, I said. We hugged and departed.
Yared and I went to his family’s home. It was a very nice and comfortable home. I met his family, his children, and his wife. They had a special relative visiting and all of his family was there. They made a nice amount of Ethiopian food and I enjoyed a good lunch with them. We then went to get my plane ticket from Henok and the Ethiopian travel agency. I finally got to see the office where I’ve ordered so many tickets to Mekelle. Afterwards we headed back to the house and I sat down to visit with his family. Before I knew it I was sound asleep sitting straight up in their chair. My head bopped down which sprung me awake and Yared said, “are you tired?” “Yes I am, I haven’t slept for 2 days now.” “Why don’t you lye down and get some sleep.” Good idea, so I did. I slept for 7 hours!!!! I then woke and it was after their dinner. They wanted to feed me but I was still full from the lunch I had, so I passed. I had some tea and back off to bed I went. I again slept so soundly.