Conclusion of two days of travel. Not there yet

Trip Start Jan 07, 2013
Trip End Jan 22, 2013

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Flag of Ethiopia  , Ādīs Ābeba,
Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I did not bring my laptop on this trip. I'm trying to rely only on my Google Nexus 7 tablet....let's see how it works.   

Bev dropped me off at Dayton, OH airport on Monday before noon and I flew to Chicago and then on to Frankfut, Germany. Straightforward.  Then I took a bit of an unorthodox route to Zambia through Khartoum, Sudan and Addis Ababa and stayiing overnight there.  That was to save $600 on my plane ticket.  

I left Germany about 10 am for Khartoum.  The plane is jam-packed as we head towards the Muslim city of Khartoum in the Sudan.  It's far away from the unrest in Darfur which is a western province.  We flew over the beautiful Mediterranean with it's multitudes of islands and across Egypt down the Nile through Sudan.  

We only had a one hour stop in Khartoum, but from the air the city looked bustling with traffic and rather flat with few tall buildings.  The mighty Nile River flows through it and it was interesting to see it.  

The people I've talked to who are travelling to this part of the world work either for USAID, The Peace Corps or CARE.  It seems like the rest of the non-local passengers are Chinese. Lots of them! That is very obvious.  They stay to themselves and travel as a pack.
Then another one and a half hours to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Addis is a sprawling city with a population ranging from three to 18 million depending on who you talk to. It is about 7800 feet above sea level so it is a mild climate.  Here I have to spend the night before continuing on to Lusaka in the morning.  So far, easy and uneventful.  All I had to do was get through immigration and find a ride to the hotel near the airport that I had reserved through Travelocity.

Now my first ordeal.  First, the immigration/passport line was very long and slow.  It took over an hour to get to the immigration officer.  He told me that I needed a visa and pointed me to the visa counter which was not all that obvious. I thought with one night, I wouldn't have to go through this  The visa line was extra slow, another hour wait.  When I got to the lady she told me that what I needed was a TRANSIT visa that you get upstairs.  So, up I go the steps with my heavy roll on and brief case.  The escalator was only going DOWN.  I stood in that line for about 20 minutes and was told that I needed a prepaid hotel voucher and then I would get a transit visa.  I know that Bev would not have been happy with all this as this was at the end of two days travel and I just wanted to get the hotel about 10 minutes away.  

The Ethiopian lady at the counter was merciful to me and very patient seeing my plight of trying to get the little plastic transit visa sticker.  She found that the hotel that I had booked happened to be on their list of approved transit hotels and was able to keep me from being double-charged.  But, then I had to get back through the immigration line....another 30 minutes and out on to the street.  The immigration officer was wearing an Ohio State sweat shirt.  I was hoping that this was a good omen.
But wait! Not done yet.  You had to take the special shuttle to your hotel for transit people.  After a few questions I was told to stay put until they came for me.  Which, they did, after half an hour.  

We arrived in Addis before 8 pm and it's going on midnight as I am finally driven to the Empire Addis hotel just a few minutes away with about six others...included Chinese.   This is the first African country that I've travelled to where they drive on the same side of the road as in the USA.  

Finally, REST!  I am just thankful that it ended up OK.  What I was amazed about was the lack of instruction, signs, helpers and such.     

I took this route because is was about $600 cheaper than straight-through travel via South Africa.  
Travel tip #31:  Don't attempt to do a straightforward transit stay in an African country.  Better just keep travelling until you get to where you should go.  It's not as easy as it looks.  
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jorgedecampos on

Hi Vic. We are praying for your safety. Sorry that you had all those frustrations. You patience paid off. May God be with you.

Lorelei Nettles on

Oh I am sorry this happened. You are a very patient man. I am not sure how well Robert and I would have done emotionally.

Scott Lockwood on

My thoughts and prayers are with you. Thank you for your service to the wonderful African brethren awaiting your arrival.

Ray Prater on

Sorry to hear you had so much trouble but glad things are progressing. Will continue to pray that the rest of your trip goes better. Thank you for all that you do.

krikketgirl on

You should write a book about all your travel trips! Glad you finally made it to a hotel for the night.

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