'Happy Anniversary' from 12000+km

Trip Start Jun 17, 2008
Trip End Jul 05, 2008

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Happy 9th anniversary, Lovie!  Too bad we're on different continents today.  Not the usual way to spend one's anniversary.

Arrived in Addis Ababa toady after a looong time traveling.  Flying in, it was mostly cloudy so we couldn't see much.  But every now and then I did glimpse some mountains, dry river deltas, red soil, and some thatched huts! Can't wait to see some of this close up!

As we feared, there was no tour representative to meet us at the airport.  What proceeded was an interesting adventure of changing $ and trying to figure out the local phone system and dialing codes.  All the while we were bombarded by people offering taxis and hotels to us (BTW Krista and Grant, hot pink luggage does not make one very inconspicuous! :) ).  Grant eventually found a guy who would let us use his cell phone (for a price) and called Solomon from the adoption agency to take us to the guest house we had been in contact with.  It was so sweet, when he arrived he had flowers for each of us, along with hugs and kisses!

The drive to the guest house was great - our first real glimpse!  Fields of goats next to busy intersections, drivers everywhere, long narrow streets with bricked in yards topped with barbed wire and glass shards (yet festooned with beautiful flowers).  Turning down an alley to get to the guest house our van was unable to pass due to giant holes in the road and piles of gravel (we were able to navigate around a few, but they became too great).  So out we jump (hot pink luggage and all) to walk to the guest house. 

Behind the brick wall was a guard at the gate and an eclectic building with a patio, cast iron furniture, and a beautiful garden! Our room is on the topmost floor with some great views overlooking the city. Everyone has been so helpful calling taxis for us and negotiating the prices.  So it's off to the bank for me to get the funds to pay for our tour with SORA for the next week. 

I feel like I've robbed the bank!  $2800 US = $26 000Birr - all wrapped in neat little stacks!  If only I had a briefcase to carry it all in!  Meeting with Osman from SORA was a pleasure.  We will be picked up at 6am tomorrow to catch our 7:10 flight to Bahir Dar. 

We were invited to our first authentic Ethiopian coffee ceremony by the owner of the guest house.  As I coffee lover, I couldn't wait to try the REAL stuff (Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee) and the ceremony is likened to an Asian tea ceremony in the ritual.   From the roasting of the beans, to grinding the powder, boiling the water, and enjoying sticky sweet goodness, it's all done over a little coal stove.  Oh, and don't forget the popcorn (enhances the flavor of the coffee).   It was so rich and delicious.  Tiny tiny cups, but you get to have 3!

Now for our travel weary bodies to shower, eat, and sleep - in an actual bed!  Ethiopian plumbing leaves much to be desired.  One small trickle of cool water is the most that can be mustered.  It is the beginning of the rainy season and we were warned about water shortages as well as electricity (no water in the river = no hydro electric power). 

We decided to have dinner at the guest house rather than navigating the city tonight.   Had the most amazing doro wat (actually made me sweat!).  The injera was much more fermented in flavor than we had experienced in Canada as well.  So the adventure begins!
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