Entering the Home land (Life in Addis)

Trip Start Dec 05, 2007
Trip End Jan 10, 2008

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

The total plane ride from SFO to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia took around 18+ hours. Okay...so after being stuck on the plane for that long I was really tired and very anxious to get off. Even before I got off the plane I felt the love for the country. As soon as we landed everyone on the plane clapped and was saying "eee lil lil lil" sorta like Middle Eastern tribal calling, signifying happiness and joy. I was glad to be home.

My best friend Esther also went with me on this trip. It was nice because it was new to both of us. Since I had only 5 weeks to visit family and travel at the same time I broke the trip down into 3 segments. Capital City (central Ethiopia), Northern Ethiopia and Southern Ethiopia.
 Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia and that is where my family lives. I had the privilege of getting to stay with two of my family members in two different parts of town. We called our places to stay First Aunt and Second Aunts house. First Aunt was where we stayed at first. Her house is about 10 minutes away from the middle of the city in a newly developing neighborhood (sort of like the suburbs). BUT in this case, they had no running water which made for an interesting stay. We woke up every morning and brushed our teeth and washed our faces outside in a pan. After using the bathroom you have to pour water down the toilet in order for it to go down the drain. Esther and I would go to nice restaurants or cafés on purpose just to use their bathroom (I think my cousins suspected after a while). It was a very humbling experience and we were overjoyed to get a hot shower at Feluha (the one and only local bath house where the water is pure mineral water). My skin and hair never felt so FABULOUS!
We stayed in the capital city for a week until Aimee my other friend came in from NY to join us on the trip. During that week we got to see what life in the city is like. In one sentence Addis is a mix of old and new, and there is no middle class. Either you have money or you don't. Driving down the street it's normal to see donkeys, sheep, chickens, bulls all walking down the same road the latest BMW X5 is parked. Some homes were spectacular looking with 3 or 4 stories but right next door would be a really badly delapitated house and right outside that house would be a shack. I saw all types of people sleeping ourside on the streets. Lots of people begging and I noticed lots of people who were crippled. When I asked my Uncle why they all exhibited the same kind of deformity he explained they were victims of Polio. It was very surreal experience and something as small as a vaccine could have made a world of difference to that person.
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