Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rick's Ramblings - Day 2 - Wed, 03/27/2013

What a short night.  After four hours of sleep, the alarm went off to wake up and go have some breakfast before going to the airport.  We were up at 6am and everyone did a great job getting up and ready for the day.  Emily is such a great traveler.  She didn’t complain about having only 4 hours of sleep at all.  She was excited to get going.

Waking up in DC
We stayed at the Hampton Inn Suites near the Dulles Airport.  We were expecting a 6a wakeup call that we got at 6:30a, I’m glad that I thought of setting my phone alarm.  :)  But they did have a great continental breakfast and it was a great place to stay the night.  Our shuttle driver was very polite and very excited for us and we talked with him the entire way to the airport.  We had no problems navigating our way through the airport and the officers at the security check were very friendly and kept interacting with Emily.  Emily and I went through just the metal detectors and Connie and Gary got to go through the full-body scanners.  We were at our gate a good 1.5 hours ahead of time.  We met a few amazing people while we sat there and were able to share our story with them.  They were all very excited for us and shared their stories as well.  

Ethiopian Airlines
Our plane was delayed arriving at Dulles by about 30 minutes and the gentleman sitting next to me said that was normal. “Always late” he said with a smile.  Connie said that she will fit right in.  :)

It doesn’t matter how much entertainment you have, 12 hours on a flight is a long time.  :)  But we made it to Ethiopia safely.  Emily did great but she kept us awake most of the flight.  She didn’t want to sleep at all and every 20-30 minutes she’d ask if we were there yet.  We flew on Ethiopian airlines and it was the best service I’ve ever had on any flight.  The flight attendants always had smiles and were so polite.  The food was good and there were lots of amenities like complimentary wine and beer with dinner.  Meals were always followed by tea, coffee and additional drinks.  Before serving breakfast they passed out hot wipes to use for cleaning your face and hands.  They also had complimentary toothbrush, toothpaste, compression socks, sleeping mask, blanket and pillow for each passenger as you got on the plane.  Each seat has it’s own little tv with several movies, music and flight information to choose from.  There was no turbulence and for a 12 hour flight we endured quite well.  

Here are a few fun facts about our flight:

  • Altitude: 37,000 feet
  • Ground Speed: 600-607 mph
  • Outside Air Temperature: -74 f
  • Aircraft: 767-300
We also learned that Addis Ababa means New Flower and is considered by most The Political Capitol of Africa.

We’ve made many friends on the flight.  We will be keeping in touch with many of them.  We’ve had a great experience so far and are looking forward to embracing the Ethiopian culture.  

First Day in Addis
After arriving at the airport we got our Visas and were allowed entry into this amazing country.  So far we've been shown great hospitality and courtesy.  Praise God that all of our luggage made it!  Just a side note but I find it interesting that every time we go to a different country the baggage carts are free to use.  But in the states they cost $3 each.   We piled two of them full and then put a very tired Emily up on top.  I would've liked to have joined her.

Then we proceeded to customs.  Note to self, camera good idea, tripod bad idea.  They weren't very happy that I brought a tripod with me in my checked luggage.  I didn't understand why but something about needing a signed letter.  I only brought it so that we could get a group shot of all of us with baby sister.  Next time it's staying behind for sure.  :)  But they did let us through with it and everything is good.

We called our hotel, the Addis View Hotel, and they came and picked us up.  They were very quick and Benjamin (I think he pronounced it Ben-ya-men) was a great driver.  Driving through the city you are overwhelmed with the smell of smoke, gasoline and grease along with some amazing spices.  I don't think it helped that I wasn't feeling well.  I don't do well without sleep.  My body gets all discombobulated (I develop a headache, easily overheat and become nauseous).  

We got checked into our hotel and they helped us carry our luggage up a few flights of stairs to the  second floor.  It's really a nice room but only has one bed and a couch.  So they brought up a cot so we'd all have a restfully sleep.  Tomorrow we move into a room with two beds.  :)  Apparently our reservation didn't quite have the right dates for our stay. 

Selah Guest House Tour
Connie has met a couple of American missionaries, Levi & Jessie Benkert with Bring Love In.  She has become to know them through Facebook and connections she's made.  They have a new guest house on the outskirts of town.  Connie is thinking of staying there with baby girl if she stays here on her own after court.  Eyuel (pronounced Joel) is a guide who came highly recommended to us.  We met him at our hotel and he took us out to the guest house.  He is a great guy whose going to school part time to get a degree in Computer Science.  He wants to work doing special effects for movies.  I'll be keeping his dreams in my prayers.

Driving through Ethiopia is similar to what we experienced in Guatemala.  Horns are used all the time and it's not considered to be rude.  They honk for lots of reasons but it's mostly a "here I am" kind of thing.  They also are all gas or all brake.  I read that there are approx 25 million people in Addis Ababa and that it's growing by 2+ million a year.  For that many people I expected more traffic, but it was more like a Sunday in Boise. Most people walk everywhere.  I didn't notice many bicycles or motorcycles around town.  All of the main roads are paved and the side roads are dirt.  The people seem to be very up beat and enjoy conversation.  Everywhere you look there are people selling things and open markets.  

We met Thomas, who works with Levi & Jessie, and we followed him into the guest house.  There he gave us the grand tour.  It is a beautiful guest home in a new neighbor hood.  If I'd been feeling better I'd have taken lots of photographs.  It has tile everywhere and a beautiful little courtyard in front with flowers and grass (not a lot of lawn type grass here).  The house can hold groups with 20+ people and it is used to house a lot of mission teams.  They have staff that live there 24/7 and a world renowned chef.  We all fell in love with it.  The cost to stay there is only 1/3 the cost of the hotel.

Good Night
I became so exhausted that I became sick while at the guest house.  So we came back to the hotel and I laid down in bed for some much needed rest.  Connie and Pop Pop took Emily and went to get some food.  I'm feeling better after having a few hours sleep but am still exhausted.  I knew you'd all need an update and want to know that we're doing great and made it in safely.  I'm going to go cuddle up with Connie and Emily and try to sleep through the night.  They are both sound asleep.

We love and miss you all and can't wait to share more of our journey.  We are going to be traveling to Dire Dawa in the next day or two and have a couple of touristy things to do.  I'm hoping to have the camera out and get some photos while I'm here.  Today I wasn't up for it, too tired.  But Connie and Emily took a few photos.  I hope you enjoy them.  :)

Panoramic of Addis Ababa from the Airport