O'hare, how I love thee!
Trip Start Jun 20, 2007
6Trip End Sep 15, 2007
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I'm off to Ethiopia tomorrow afternoon via Rome, Italy. This layover could prove to be problematic since I hear Rome's airport has several shoe stores (leave me alone, it's an affliction that I'm dealing with). Luckily for me, I just learned that my two layovers don't allow me to leave the plane...ever.
In preparation for my journey, I have done the following:
1.) Purchased a Lonely Planet guide.
2.) Packed some granola bars.
3.) Made a kick ass 'Ethiopia' playlist on my iPod
4.) Received a hefty trekking backpack from Mofi for his father's day gift (which I will now affectionately refer to as 'Hercules').
I tried to explain to Mofi what I would be doing in Addis Ababa for the next three-months and it went something like:
"What do they got in Sudan, that we don't have here?"
"Well, it's Ethiopia and it's not really about what they have..."
"We could have caught a few games at Comiskey. I can get a couple of seats right near third base. I know a guy on 47th who scalps 'em."
"Rain check dad, and anyhow, Addis Ababa is supposedly beautiful. You and mom can come down and visit."
"Mom wants new kitchen cabinets, and she keeps hiding the visa bill."
He's a softie...I swear.
Many of my friends and classmates who have traveled extensively in Africa have quoted Ethiopia to be one of the highlights of their travel experiences, not to mention that it is thought to be the cradle of human life (Did you know that fossils of the oldest known upright hominid (4-million years old) were found here in 2005? The famous 3.5-million-year-old 'Lucy' was discovered in the same region back in 1974).
A taxi driver from Guinea-Bissau who I had a conversation with one long drive in Seattle told me that I wouldn't make it abroad. He claimed that he knew who could survive in Africa by keenly observing the shoes they wore. I was wearing patent leather stilettos at the time. He said I could potentially defend myself in a dangerous situation, but wouldn't be able to cut it in his country. Too bad I thought to myself, I had matching earrings.
So with Hercules packed to the brim and a digital camera at my disposal I am bursting with anticipation. Many of you are aware of the fact that I am not too thrilled with picture taking activities in general, however, on this occasion I am making an exception as it is an excellent way for Rumana to see that in fact I am eating and the effects of mass injera consumption on my derriere.
And finally, some random nuggets:
The annual 10km Great Ethiopian Run attracts over 200,000 participants and is the largest mass participation run in Africa. Moreover, Ethiopian runners have broken 31 world records!
AIDS is now the single greatest threat to economic development in Ethiopia with Addis Ababa having the highest rate of infection at 14.6%.
Injera is a thin pancake-like national staple that is made with millet or cereal grain called tef. It is the base of almost every meal much like roti in Indian food.