The emperor’s throne

January 12, 2014
10:00 p.m. local time
Bethel Guest House
Addis Ababa, Ethiopa

This guest house is very lovely. It’s almost new, and at three stories it towers over the surrounding houses, so there’s a view in all directions from the top-floor common room. There’s a high wall all around the house with a metal gate and concertina wire, so you feel very safe inside. Next to the gate, an old man keeps watch in a telephone-booth-sized guardhouse.

But there’s a problem with water. The faucet in my bathroom sink has never worked since I arrived on Friday. The bathtub faucet has worked intermittently. Apparently, the shower head hasn’t worked in ages, because someone has taken down the rod and curtain and has leaned them into one corner of the bathroom.

This morning, there was cold water in the tub, but not hot. So I decided that I would again take a cold bath. But halfway through the filling of the tub, the hot water started, and I ended up with a perfectly pleasant warm bath. The water was even colorless rather than brown!

But tonight — no water in my bathroom at all. The clerk at the desk tells me that the tanker is being filled, and after it’s filled, the pump will pump water up, and then my bath water will run. I hope so, because I have to get up at 5 a.m. Kitty and I will leave for the airport at 5:30, and our flight to Lalibella, in the northern part of the country, is to depart at 7:40 a.m.

This morning was Sunday, and I had hoped to attend the Anglican church in Addis. But it was also the only day that I would have with Kitty and with her team of missionaries who live in Yei, South Sudan. The group was planning to spend the day together, and so I tagged along.

After we enjoyed a good breakfast of French toast and eggs and that strong, strong Ethiopian coffee, our hired van arrived at 9 a.m. Our group included the Pooles — an Australian doctor and his super-efficient wife and three young kids. And Katherine, the New Zealander nurse who works side-by-side with Kitty every day in Yei. And Rebecca, the young Chinese-Malaysian-Australian doctor who has been in Yei for the last six months or so but who is now headed back to Malaysia to see her relatives and decide what to do next — master’s in public health at Johns Hopkins? Or perhaps more work as a missionary doctor? Simone, the Swiss teacher who lives in Yei, had other plans to meet a friend in Addis today, so she didn’t join us.

And so off we went with our driver, a very pleasant 35-year-old man named Dagin. First he took us to the Cure Hospital, where the whole Yei group went in to visit an Australian woman they knew who had recently broken her leg. This woman had had to have surgery right there in Addis. The Cure Hospital seemed extremely clean and pleasant to me, and it’s situated on a hillside above the downtown. Several cars full of well-dressed Ethiopians drove by as Dagin and I waited outside the hospital, chatting about his sister in Las Vegas and the impossibility of Ethiopians getting a tourist visa to visit America. These passers-by were on their way to a wedding reception in the park nearby. Dagin told me that this is wedding season, because no weddings are permitted during the long Ethiopian Advent season or during Lent. Since Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas was just last week, the weekend following the holiday was especially popular for weddings.

And the weather couldn’t have been more pleasant. I must tell you, after two days, I am in love with the climate of Addis! It’s warm, sunny, and dry during the day. It’s brisk at night. It’s simply gorgeous, and there are eucalyptus trees and jacaranda and other plants that flourish in Southern California, my birthplace.

Once we left the hospital, we drove up a steep road in the Entoto Mountains that rise above Addis to the north. At the top, at an elevation of 3,200 meters (or about 10,000 feet), are a series of monastic churches and one of the palaces of Ethiopia’s hero, the Emperor Menelik II. I was at his tomb in the crypt of the old monastic church down in the city yesterday, but here we were high above the smog, the air just a bit nippy, exploring the home he made before his consort decided it was too cold on the mountain. The roofs of the house are thatched, the stucco made with ground ostrich eggs, and when you are inside the house and look up, you can see that the underside of the thatch is bamboo tied together with leather straps. Fascinating.

Oh, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie visited there when they were in town and had the same museum guide. Also fascinating.

In the small museum, there were many of the gifts that international dignitaries had given to Menelik II during his reign — a mother-of-pearl mirror from Queen Victoria, an icon from the Russian emperor, and more.

I needed to use the toilet, so I asked our driver and he inquired of the guard. Just around back, we were told. So I went out back, where a cinder-block outhouse stood. Inside it was both filthy and overwhelmingly smelly — a “long drop” or “Turkish toilet” with no running water. Of course I had my own toilet paper and sanitary hand wipes — I’ve been in the third world enough to know not to leave home without them. But when Linda in our party — the mother of the three kids — followed me into the outhouse, she was overcome by the stench, lurched out the door, and was sick on the grass. I felt bad for her. Her two sons watched but didn’t seem too upset by it. I guess when you grow up on a hospital compound in the poorest country in the world, you’ve seen a lot worse than Mum losing her breakfast on the lawn.

One of the other churches up on the mountain included a small hewn cave church out back. Now, Kitty and I are going to the world capital of rock-hewn churches tomorrow, so I was feeling dubious about this one — it was small and primitive. But being inside a cave church is pretty cool. There were three chambers, which the local guide called the “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Ghost” rooms. He said that the “Father” chamber would have contained the Holy of Holies. The “Holy Ghost” chamber was where the small congregation would have gathered — surely it couldn’t hold more than 20 worshipers. And the “Son” chamber was where the faithful would go to receive the Sacrament.

I’m not sure about how trustworthy this guide was, since this was a liturgical practice completely unknown to me — the faithful receiving communion in a room other than the “nave” (i.e., the “Holy Ghost” room) or the chancel (i.e., the “Father” room)? But what do I know of Ethiopian Christianity? Almost nothing, that’s what. I do now know, however, that almost all their churches or octagonal, that their priests can be married, and that there are two kinds of monks — virgins and widowers. I’ve learned something in the last two days.

On the way down the mountain, we stopped at a long line of roadside market stalls that were busy, busy, busy with local people looking for bargains. These stalls all seemed to sell textiles — mostly women’s clothing, scarves, table linens, and the like. I wasn’t that interested, but I did find a table runner hand-embroidered with a cross-like design. I liked it quite a bit. And then the shopkeeper showed me eight matching cloths that I took for napkins, but he said they were coverings for chairs. OK. I did a little bargaining and was genuinely going to walk away, because I could do without these things. But he came down to $10 for the set of nine hand-embroidered linens. I’m sure he made more than he would have, had he sold them to an Ethiopian. And I got a nice gift for somebody.

By this time, it was lunchtime, and I think we were all feeling tired and hot. We headed back into the area of Addis that surrounds the university, and there we found a very nice restaurant called “Lucy” tucked away next to the National Museum, where the bones of the real Lucy — the ancient Australopithecus afarensis discovered in 1974 — currently reside. I had more traditional Ethiopian food, and I tried one of the fruit smoothies that Addis Ababa is known for. When you order a mixed fruit smoothy here, they blend each fruit separately and put the results into separate pitchers. Then they pour the contents of the different pitchers into a transparent glass, and you end up with a charming stained-glass design. Pretty and tasty both.

After lunch, we headed over to the university, which is on land donated by Haile Selassie and includes one of his palaces. The palace building itself now houses the ethnographic museum — a combination of anthropology and traditional arts. The anthropological section was fine — Ethiopia has more than 100 tribes, each with its own cultural distinctions, and it’s rather hard for someone like me, with no knowledge of any of them, to grasp the differences.

But I really enjoyed the section of the museum that focused on traditional art. The Ethiopian style of painting is remarkable — it’s brightly colored, and the human figures are almost cartoon-like in their simplicity. The art is beautiful — I wouldn’t mind having it on my wall.

As we were looking at some religious paintings that were 400 and 500 years old, I was amazed some strong similarities to Western religious art of the same period. To be sure, Ethiopian figure drawing is completely different. But both the subject matter and the composition of the images were almost identical to European art of the same period. Here were Madonna and Child in the center of a triptych, the infant holding up his fingers in blessing. There, below them, St. George slaying his ancient enemy, that great dragon. Here the twelve apostles. There the whole company of heaven, forever praising God and saying, “Holy, holy, holy.”

How on earth did Ethiopian painters of 500 years ago have contact with European painters of the same period? I suppose they could communicate up and down the Nile, but I must learn more about this cultural interplay. Whatever it was, Ethiopia was not cut off from the world in centuries past. And it wasn’t some kind of primitive culture. The Ethiopia of the medieval and modern periods was a complex civilization with a strong architectural and artistic tradition.

Lest it be forgotten that this was Haile Selassie’s old palace, the museum also included the Emperor’s former bedchamber and, my favorite, his marble bathroom, complete with double sinks, shower bath, flush toilet, and bidet. Our driver, who was with me, said, “The emperor had the best bathroom in all Ethiopia.”

“It’s a beautiful bathroom,” I replied gravely. But what I wanted to say was, “The emperor’s throne!”

By the time we finished at the museum, all of us were exhausted and ready to head back to the guest house. I pulled out a bag of trail mix from Target that I had brought along, and everyone in the van started scarfing down nuts and chocolate. We stopped at a cafe that specialized in those fruit smoothies, and then we all drank them through straws in the car. I said to no one in particular, “Why does every straw in Ethiopia have a hole in it!” My new friends mocked me until they started sucking air. Every single straw: defective.

Back at the guest house, we separated. I tried and failed to nap, thwarted by the imam’s call and the bleating of goats outside my window. For dinner, we came together for pizza and leftovers at the guest house dining table. Katherine, who hadn’t been feeling well all day, was sick in the third-floor common room, and Simone, the Swiss woman, went to clean up the mess.

And finally we separated. The Pooles leave for Sydney tomorrow. Rebecca is flying to Kuala Lumpur. Katherine and Simone are going to return to South Sudan via Uganda. And Kitty and I will leave earliest of all, on our way to the isolated mountain town of Lalibella, where Ethiopian Christians of centuries past tried to recreate the Holy City of Jerusalem. I can’t wait.

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Reunited

January 11, 2014
11:30 p.m. local time
Bethel Guest House
Addis Ababa, Ethiopa

Once my gap-toothed friend and I decided on a price for his tour-guide services, I figured that he would leave me. I said, “I need your help for one more thing. I need to find a private taxi to take me back to my guest house.”

A private taxi, I had learned, was the kind you took alone. A public taxi is what Americans might call a “shared” taxi. And I knew I wouldn’t find anyone going back to the Bethel Hospital region of the city, which is where my guest house is located.

My friend, feeling generous with 500 birr in his pocket, took a practical approach. “We take minibus to Meskel Square,” he said. “Then I find taxi for you. Or you take minibus to Bethel Hospital.”

We stood by the side of the busy main street in downtown Addis Ababa. A little van drove by, filthy, crammed with men and women and children, the sliding door open. Too full.

Another one drove by. A teenager hovered just inside, holding onto the sliding door, crying out the destination.

A third and a fourth passed us in rapid sequence. A fifth approached and my companion waved his hand briefly. The van pulled up, a few people got off, and we squeezed in. It reminded me of the VW vans that Christian Life Church used to own in the 1970s. I can still see Robin Stearns, one of the Royal Ranger leaders, trying to get that van into second gear while we Rangers filled the back seats, unbuckled. While Robin muttered and tried to force the gears, the boys in the back sang songs and told stories and made a ruckus, so excited to be headed to the Belmont Pool for for our monthly swimming night. The gearbox was terrible on those old vans.

The ride in the Addis minivan was not quite as bad as you might think. Every kilometer or so, we pulled over, and the kid at the door holding a wad of cash would slide open the door and yell out our destination. If someone hailed us, we stopped. If not, he pulled the door closed and on we went. We were at Meskel Square in 10 minutes.

When I unfolded myself, I was back in the cheerless square where I had started my downtown adventure. But now I had a guide who I had just paid good money to, and he was my advocate. He ordered me, “You stay here.” And then he ran around to the other minibuses, inquiring if any were headed in my direction. Finding none, he approached a driver in one of those little Lada minicars. I told him I had paid 1200 birr for my morning trip, and I didn’t want to pay any more than that. So he spoke to the driver, negotiating, cajoling, convincing. I swear, it felt good to have my own Amharic advocate.

Back at the guest house, I asked if the water was back on. Yes, the cistern had been filled! But no, I still didn’t have any water in my bathroom. The maid had placed a full bucket of water next to my toilet, just for flushing. I was actually grateful rather than put out.

But when I tried the bath tub faucet again in 10 or 15 minutes, I got a steady trickle of brown water. I quickly plugged the drain and let the water flow. Within 10 minutes, the brown water had climbed to about 5 inches in the tub. I unwrapped my bar of Irish Spring, brought from home, and slid into the tepid sludge. Yikes, it was cold. But you get used to it, don’t you. That’s the African way, I think. You get used to it.

Kitty and her team arrived from their retreat center at about 4 p.m., and by 6 we were enjoying takeout from the Alternet Cafe, where I had eaten last night. It was a lively and fun dinner — the quiet Aussie doctor, his organized wife, and their three kids. The young Chinese-Malaysian-Australian doctor. The Swiss teacher who had been an exchange student in Michigan. The Kiwi nurse who always gets ribbed by the Australians. And of course Kitty, my American friend whom I’d come all this way to see. Some of our group ate burgers, but my half of the table had traditional Ethiopian food — injera and several sauces and meats to go with it. Delightful.

And after dinner, I opened up my bags and presented Kitty with the 75 pounds of Christmas gifts from her friends, family, and church back home. She was pretty excited, I must say.

The kindness of strangers comes with a price

January 11, 2014
10:30 p.m. local time
Bethel Guest House
Addis Ababa, Ethiopa

My friend Kitty and her team were not scheduled to arrive at the Bethel Guest House until late afternoon, so I decided that I must take advantage of the free day by visiting downtown Addis Ababa on my own. I didn’t know anything — I still don’t know anything, really — about this teeming metropolis that is sometimes called the “capital of Africa” because various international organizations have their headquarters here.

I was up at about 7:30 and went into the bathroom to bathe. There was no water to speak of — it dribbled out of the bathtub faucet and just gurgled in the sink. I started filling the bath and and the depth reached about an inch before the water just stopped.

So I got dressed and went down to breakfast.

There was one place set at the table, and on the table were cold toast (carefully wrapped in saran wrap), a bowl full of fruit, liquid pancake batter, a cereal bowl, and pots of coffee and tea. I wasn’t sure what to make of the pancake batter — put it into the cereal bowl, since there was no cereal? But I did know how to peel a banana, and I recalled the advice of my travel nurse from the Penn Travel Clinic: “Boil it, peel it, cook it, or forget it.” I peeled and ate.

And then the cook came out of the kitchen and asked if I wanted an egg. Yes, please!

And then I tried and failed to pour coffee. I’m not sure if my travel nurse would have approved, because coffee is not really boiled, and who knows the provenance of the water with which it was made? But I didn’t care. I was NOT going to spend time in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, and avoid drinking it. With help, I finally got it to pour — thick, black, and strong.

After breakfast, I went back to my room and used my washcloth and my one inch of bath water, and I gave myself a cold sponge bath, put on clean clothes, and went down stairs to conquer Africa.

The front desk clerk had phoned for a taxi for me. You’re thinking a spacious yellow cab? Think again, my friend. This was a classic Soviet-made Lada from the 1970s, and I felt like Oliver Hardy trying to get into Mr. Bean’s passenger seat. I was never able to sit up straight during the whole half-hour trip to the center of Addis.

And as you would expect, my ancient, wizened driver drove like a madman. We had hardly started before he plowed straight through a herd of donkeys wandering down the street. We dodged minibuses and pedestrians, sailed by goats and their goatherds, and nearly crashed into other cars several times. The Lada reeks of gasoline fumes, and I was feeling lightheaded when we got to Meskel Square. On the map printed in my guidebook, this had looked like a promising start for a walk around downtown. In real life, it looked somewhat less promising.

But I gamely hopped out and started walking purposefully, eager to look like I knew where I was going. I brazenly crossed the multiple lanes of traffic, just as confident as a local, and turned toward a church. If you know me at all, you know that old churches are catnip to me.

I walked up the steps from the street. Ethiopian music played from a hidden loudspeaker. The church seemed to be closed, but there were a dozen or more people sitting around, praying, or walking up to the locked doors to cross themselves, genuflect, and kiss the doorposts. In the grounds of the church, there were several shrines — mostly religious posters or paintings behind glass. I looked but wasn’t overly impressed. I walked on.

I passed the enormous Africa House, home of the United Nations in Addis Ababa, with its manicured grounds. I passed the Hilton, protected behind shrubs, fences, and guards. I kept walking uphill toward what my map identified as the “Old Palace.” I thought there might be something to see at the top.

And then a young man fell into step next to me and struck up a conversation. Now, the guidebooks warn against just this kind of thing. A helpful “student” will strike up a conversation, show you lots of things, and then present you with a huge “bill” at the end of the day. It’s a classic scam. And I knew this — I had just read it in my guidebook yesterday!

And yet, when it happens, it’s not at all easy to stop.

And in fact, maybe it’s not really a scam. It depends on what’s valuable to you. I was alone and was quickly realizing that I knew nothing about this city. Not a lot of people spoke English. I wasn’t seeing anything that was all that great. And it was kind of fun to start chatting with this nice young guy with a horribly broken incisor. He was headed uphill to a church. I walked along with him, and soon he was showing me several churches, one dedicated to Gabriel, one to John the Baptist. Here was a bell in a rather ugly campanile. In the distance, a loudspeaker blared an Ethiopian voice that reminded me of the call to prayer at the mosque near my guest house.

We kept walking uphill, past an enormous and ancient tortoise who grazed at the verge of the path, and were soon at the oldest church I’d yet seen — although, since Addis Ababa was only founded in the late 19th century, it wasn’t really that old. But it was a tall stone church octagonal in plan, and it was solid-looking. A respectable church. My young guide hailed an older man in a navy suit. They spoke to each other in Amharic, and soon the young man disappeared and the older man spoke to me in rather broken English, telling me how important this church is.

I was like a drunkard. How could I say no to this confident man in his best suit? I followed him up to the church. On the east side, a wedding was in progress! Sitting on the western steps of the church, facing away from the building toward the west, were the bride and groom and perhaps a hundred other people. This was no stereotypical African chaos. It was formal, even stylized. There were Ethiopian monks in black, and priests and deacons in white. The bride and groom sat side by side on the stairs, and all the bride’s kin sat on her side of the center line of the stairs. All the groom’s people sat on his side. Facing them and the church’s great west doors, a priest spoke on and on and on in Amharic. No one talked except the priest, and occasionally the voice would stop and people would applaud politely and briefly.

The pavement to the west of the church was empty, but along the low walls at the edge of the pavement, a couple hundred onlookers sat. Some seemed like they might be beggars, but others looked like family and friends who were there just for the wedding. It was rather beautiful, and I felt like I was intruding. My elderly guide said, “Go head! You take pictures! Is OK!”

He ushered me to a side door of the church, and we walked into a dim narthex. A dozen women stood or knelt in the cramped space, davening in a way that that an Orthodox Jew would recognize immediately. My guide said, “This is the area for women. Men and women pray separately.”

We passed through a velvet curtain into a similar narthex for men. Here, half a dozen men were doing the same thing — gently rocking, holding not tefillin but prayer books. Like the women, they prayed silently.

And then we passed through a door into the center chamber of this church. There, in front of me, was the Holy of Holies.

In Ethiopian Orthodoxy, as I understand it, the Holy of Holies stands always at the center of the church, or the center of the east end — where you would find an altar in a Catholic, Anglican, or Greek Orthodox church. In the Holy of Holies is a table of the Ten Commandments. A priest can enter once a year, but lay people are never allowed. In this church, the Holy of Holies was a freestanding room within the church, made of rich carved wood. Within the central chamber of the church — the sanctuary — there was enough room to walk around the Holy of Holies, but not much. Here there were more men praying, using prayer books that looked to be copied by hand. My guide pointed out some of the artwork high on the walls. And then he said, “Now we go down.”

We took off our shoes. He rolled back some of the carpets on the floor of the sanctuary and there was a trap door — a metal door like you see on the sidewalk in front of a Philadelphia rowhouse. He pulled it open and a steep staircase descended into the gloom. He went down on his hands and knees, and I followed on my hands and knees.

He flipped on the lights and we were in a crypt, perhaps 25 feet square, that was crowded with objects. In one corner, a bookcase filled with codexes on vellum, written in the ancient Geez language that’s used only for religious services in the Ethiopian church. In a glass cupboard, a shelf of thuribles that excited my Anglo-Catholic heart. And taking up most of the space, three enormous stone tombs.

Here, at rest till the last trump, was the mortal remains of the Emperor Menelik II, modernizer of Ethiopia. His consort, Empress Taytu, lay in an equally imposing tomb one one side of him, and his daughter, Empress Zewditu, lay on the other. I felt like I was in a secret chamber, although I am sure many tourists visit here. In fact, an elderly monk had followed us down the stairs and went to a little desk. He presented me with a guest book, where I wrote my name, and then he showed me an admission ticket with a price on it: 50 birr. My guide said it was customary to give alms at the same time, and 100 birr would be a good amount. Five bucks seemed like a paltry gift for such a hidden wonder beneath the floorboards of the Holy of Holies.

We climbed the stairs again and circumambulated the Holy of Holies. On the far side, my guide opened a small door in the wall and showed me the picture it was hiding — a Madonna and child in the Renaissance style. He told me that it was a gift from the Italian church, and that it was an authentic Michelangelo. This I doubted.

I gathered up my shoes and we returned to the bright sunshine outside. The wedding was still going on, the wedding guests just as quiet and reserved as before. We headed down the hillside, passing the spring of holy water where priests fill their buckets each morning, and passed the tortoise, still munching on the grass.

And then my elderly guide stopped and told me his bill for the services he had rendered. 400 birr, he said. Twenty dollars. I thought this was outrageous, but what can you do? I don’t speak the language, don’t know who his friends are, don’t understand what the going rate is. I tried to bargain, but I did a poor job, and soon my wallet was 400 birr lighter. Then the young man — the one with the broken tooth — reappeared.

So what did I do? Why, it was like seeing an old friend! We struck up a conversation. He taught me some words in Amharic. He asked if I could tell how old he was. Since I knew he was a student, I guessed that he was 16. But I was way off — he was actually 20, he said. I asked if he could tell how old I was. He appraised me carefully. “Forty-three,” he said. I was shocked at his accuracy. He said, “I am very good at telling how old someone is. Other people look at the face, but I look at the body.”

I had no idea what he meant by that, but it didn’t sound like a compliment.

As we walked along, he pointed to the top of the next hill and said, “There is the Holy Trinity Cathedral. There is buried the Emperor Haile Selassie.” We kept walking.

Now, Holy Trinity Cathedral is in all the guidebooks, and here there were a busload of European tourists who had come because this was a must-see stop on their tour. Here also were Americans with oversized cameras and fat bellies. We walked around the outside of the church and I considered whether I wanted to go inside.

Finally, I decided to go in, because, really, how often do you get to see the tomb of one of the 20th century’s great dictators? The ticket, sold in a separate office near the courtyard gate, set me back another 100 birr, or $5. I went into the cathedral and removed my shoes.

Holy Trinity Cathedral was built by Haile Selassie to celebrate the end of the fascist occupation of Ethiopia. It’s a rather small version of a baroque basilica. The emperor and his wife are entombed in marble in the north transept. I wasn’t wowed here like I had been back in the crypt of Menelik II. As I sat in a pew on the north transept, near the door, I wondered what to do about my young gap-toothed guide outside. I was sure he was still out there. How was I going to get rid of him?

An old priest standing by the cathedral door put out his hand, asking for money. I showed him the ticket I had purchased, and he studied it carefully before returning it to me. He put out his hand again, asking for money. I smiled, shook my head, grabbed my shoes, and exited.

Outside, I sat in the shade and my guide asked me how I liked it. “Very nice,” I said. “I liked the emperor’s tomb.”

As we walked on, he asked me if I was married, and I said no. He asked why not, and I said I hadn’t found the right person. He didn’t approve. “You must marry,” he said. “And have a boy and a girl. That is enough.” I agreed solemnly.

As we walked out of the north gate of the Cathedral grounds, I could see that we were approaching a very vibrant commercial area, but I was getting tired, feeling like I’d had enough touring for one day. But my guide wasn’t done. The national museum was just five minutes’ walk away!

I told him that I was tired and that I didn’t think that I wanted to see the museum, but it was so pleasant to keep walking that we did. We passed another church, this one dedicated to Mary, and he crossed himself three times and kissed the stone gate. We came to the National Museum, and he turned to enter the grounds. I held my ground.

“No,” I said. “I do not want to go in.”

“Is very nice,” he said.

“No, thank you. I am ready to go back to my hotel.”

And now came the negotiation. We stopped on the sidewalk and he began telling me how he had a plan to sell maps to tourists so that they could find their way around the city. All he needed was the capital to buy the maps. He rattled off numbers — how many birr he would need to buy the maps and sell them. He was sure that I’d want to be an investor. He said he was in school during the day, but he wanted to work on Saturdays and Sundays, when the tourists needed help.

Incidentally, you can read about this racket right in the guidebook to Ethiopia. Countless tourists have been taken in by it.

I said, “How much should I give you for the time you have spent with me today?” He had been with me all morning and had proved to be an amiable companion. He dodged my question.” I said, “I will give you 300 birr,” or $15. His face fell. He was crestfallen.

“I have spent three hours with you! I try to help you! Six hundred birr is what I ask.”

I said, “I can give you 500 birr. That is all. I need money for my taxi to get home.” And that was that — I was out $25, knowing that I had been taken.

Except I wasn’t sure I had been. How much would you pay for an unforgettable experience — a day without a lifeline in an unfamiliar city? By the end of today, I spent about $85 for two half-hour taxi rides, admission to a couple of churches, and a friendly companion for a few hours’ walking tour. Was that a bargain or a rip-off? I don’t really know.

I have been telling people that I’m not going to Africa to see big game or tourist sites. Kitty and I will indeed be going on a safari, but that’s only secondary to me. I came to Africa to mingle with Africans and immerse myself (if even for a tiny bit) in unfamiliar cultures. I want to throw myself into the deep end of the pool and see if I can swim. I want to eat unfamiliar food, talk to strangers, and feel the pulse of African life. I think I did that today.

Trying out the local pizza joint

January 10, 2014
10 p.m. local time
Bethel Guest House
Addis Ababa, Ethiopa

Once I awoke from my nap, I decided to explore the city before dark. I went down to the front desk and spoke to the pleasant young woman there. I wanted to just walk around, maybe get something to eat, since I hadn’t had a bite to eat since the airplane — about 11 hours.

She walked me out of the gate and up the block to a busy street at the head of our little side road. She walked me to the right, toward the busy roundabout that I can just see from my third-floor bedroom. She showed me the second-floor pizzeria just above the shop on the corner.

Thanking her, I decided to walk around and explore. I can’t quite figure this place out yet. I seem to be in an outlying, almost suburban area within Addis Ababa. There are many large, new houses with walls around them. Some of the sidewalks are paved with decorative pavers. There are very few beggars in the streets here. And there are zero tourists.

I walked around for an hour or so, and I saw precisely one other white guy, who was out walking with a group of Africans. I saw one white woman behind the wheel of an SUV. But I saw an amazing multitude of Ethiopians.

I have read that Ethiopia is mostly Christian, with a significant Muslim minority, but this neighborhood, with the mosque right there on the traffic circle, has a lot of Muslims. At least, there are many women in various styles of scarf — a few with the full niqab, covering the entire face, but mostly wearing the abaya, covering body and hair but not face.

Very few people approached me. No one begged. Some of the children stared but didn’t speak. Some teenagers said, “Salaam! Hello!” but they were sitting on the sidewalk chewing on a green plant and seemed high. They giggled.

The neighborhood is somewhat prosperous, I guess, but I’m dumbfounded by the dirt, the hulks of unfinished buildings, the bricks lying here and there at random, the vacant lots. This is a new neighborhood — there’s not a single structure here that’s more than 25 years old — but it’s incomplete.

Pedestrians walk slowly here. Most people are in pairs or groups — there are relatively few solo walkers. Some younger men hold hands, or one man holds the elbow of his friend. Some women hold hands too. But all in all, it’s not a clingy culture. I’m struck again by the reserve. The people are tall and thin — I was actually surprised to see literally one man as stout as I am, although among the women, perhaps 3 to 5 percent are heavy.

Finally, I returned to the Alternet Cafe and Restaurant, which is on the second story of a building diagonally across the roundabout from the mosque. I asked for a seat out on the balcony and ordered a pizza and a Pepsi. The sun was going down behind the mountains, and the lights at the bakery and the market started to twinkle. Ethiopian pop played softly on the CD player. The traffic below me on the street was fairly but silent — Ethiopians don’t honk. The service in the restaurant was slow but polite — Ethiopians don’t rush. The pizza came eventually, and it was really quite good.

And when the power suddenly went out, throwing the restaurant and the whole neighborhood into darkness, no one even blinked. Everything was quiet for five minutes, and then the power returned, the music started again, the bill came.

More than 100 birr for a pizza and two sodas? I whipped out my calculator. Oh, that’s five bucks. Not bad. Not bad.

Driving Misser Jay

January 10, 2014
9:45 p.m. local time
Bethel Guest House
Addis Ababa, Ethiopa

The ride from the airport to the city is probably not the best introduction to any city. My ride from Bole Airport to the Bethel Guest house didn’t make me love this place, that’s for sure. The air is smoggy; the roads, though paved, are dirty. There is construction going on all the time, and nothing — absolutely nothing — seems to be finished.

We stopped for petrol. My driver, who spoke very limited English, did not pull up parallel to the gas pumps. Rather, he backed in, perpendicular to the pump, blocking all traffic. While I was sitting there, a ghastly beggar lady with two teeth came up to my door and asked for money. I shook my head, said, “No, no,” but she just stood there, immovable. I stared straight ahead. Eventually, she moved on, and I felt bad.

I’m still haunted by something that a Philadelphia beggar told me a couple of weeks ago. “I haven’t eaten in two days,” she said. “No one cares about me.” That just struck me as the brutal truth. It still haunts me.

I had asked my driver to take me to an ATM, so after he finished filling the gas tank, we drove into a bank parking lot. I was surprised once again by the miracle of international banking. I inserted my PNC Bank card, withdrew 2,000 birr, and that was it! (When I got to my hotel, I immediately checked my PNC Bank account online and saw that $104.43 had been withdrawn from an ATM in Addis Ababa.)

We drove on and on, through a maze of roads. Some were jammed with cars and trucks. Some were almost empty — divided highways with two lanes on a side and almost no traffic. I saw one donkey-drawn cart. We passed a couple of large stockyards where hundreds of goats were awaiting their doom. My driver asked me if in my home country, it’s possible to buy such a fine goat and take it home for a feast. I said no, our meat comes wrapped in plastic.

I asked him if they sell chickens, cows, pigs. Not pigs, he said — those can only be purchased in the supermarkets. He told me that Ethiopian Orthodox Christians do not eat pork. Neither do Muslims, of course. “Who eats pork?” I asked. “The Protestants,” he said. “And the Catholics. And the foreigners.”

We passed an ambulance. He crossed himself three times.

The guest house is surrounded by a high wall with a gate. I checked in and fell onto the bed. I was so exhausted. I slept most of the afternoon, my dreams interrupted by the Muslim call to prayer. Just my luck — there’s a mosque across the street.

Good samaritans at Bole Airport

January 10, 2014
9 p.m. local time
Bethel Guest House
Addis Ababa, Ethiopa

My introduction to Addis was not as smooth as I might have hoped.

The flight ended well, it is true. And we all trundled off the plane into an airport that seemed pretty clean and modern — at least the international terminal. The first thing we all faced was the line to get an entry visa. Those with Ethiopian passports bypassed this line, but everyone with a foreign passport had to wait. And wait. And wait. Bureaucrats take their time, and they shall not be rushed.

What was surprising to me is that my line was filled with Ethiopians! It turns out that there are many, many Ethiopian migrants to the United States who have achieved citizenship, and this is one of their favorite times to return to the home country for a visit. One, who works as a trucker in Nashville, told me that he comes back to Ethiopia once every two years. Another guy, who lives in Seattle, comes back even more often. There were relatively few white Americans in the visa line. But there was one hapless European who tried to pay for his visa in euros. Silly German! Now, go stand in the currency exchange line to get exactly $20 in U.S. currency!

The Nashville trucker was especially friendly and helpful, and I really enjoyed talking to him. But when he found out I was from Philadelphia, his face fell. He had to make a delivery once in Center City Philadelphia, and it was a horrifying experience. The next time his boss asked him to do the same, he said, “No! Send me to hell, but don’t send me to Philly!”

I roared with laughter.

Once I cleared the visa line and them immigration, I faced the chaos of baggage claim. Hundreds of bags were strewn randomly about the floor. Hundreds of people with wheeled luggage cards were searching for their belongings. But I soon found mine, conveniently adjacent to each other as if baggage handlers in Philly, Washington, and Addis had all conspired to keep my twins from getting separated.

I walked out into the morning sunshine and got my first taste of the land. The airport is on a low rise, so I could see the cityscape stretching out ahead. I could see the tops of the hills encircling Addis, which at 7,500 feet is one of the highest national capitals in the world. And I could see the parking lot below me, where the driver from my guest house was supposed to meet me.

By this time, it was about 9 a.m., and the day was promising to be fine. At this elevation, there’s almost no humidity, and the temperature was probably 70 degrees. In fact, the delightful weather reminded me of Prescott, Arizona, where my mom lives. Prescott’s only 5,300 feet, but it’s still got an exhilarating freshness in the air.

I wheeled my overburdened luggage cart down to the parking lot and searched for someone bearing a sign with my name. I looked and looked and looked. And nothing. There were hundreds of people waiting, dozens of taxi drivers looking for fares, and some family members greeting one another. But no one was looking for me.

I had a phone number to call, but no phone. I was embarrassed to ask someone to borrow a cell phone — worried that they would charge me (and I had no Ethiopian money), afraid of being taken for a sucker. A very beautiful young black woman sitting in a wheelchair spoke to me in a perfect American accent. She was looking for a friend arriving from Kenya. Could I help?

I thought to myself, “This is a trap! She’s not really handicapped. She will reel me in with a sob story and then jump out of her chair and run away with my suitcase.” I won’t be taken for a sucker, so I brushed her off.

I went back to the terminal, but found I couldn’t re-enter the door out of which I’d come. I asked the guard for a phone. “No phone!” he said. I asked another guard. “No phone!” he said. Dejected, I walked back to the parking lot.

I guess in times of distress, we do seek out people who are similar to us. I walked up to a stocky middle-aged white man with reddish hair. He spoke to me in German-accented but perfect English. “Are you looking for somebody?” he said. I told him I was supposed to be picked up by my guest house, but I couldn’t find the driver, and I had no phone.

“Here, I have a phone,” he said. “You call.” So I did. The driver answered, and I told him who I was. He had looked for me, had waited and waited and waited, and had finally left the airport at 9 a.m. It was now 9:15. Plaintively, I said, “There were terribly long lines. I came as soon as I could.” He said, “Someone will come and get you. Fifteen minutes. Wait by yellow taxis.”

I hung up and started talking to my German rescuer. He told me he was a businessman in the city, trying to convince developers to put steel and glass onto those new skyscrapers that were springing up all over town. Trying to make the city more beautiful. But it was hard going here.

He told me that the bureaucracy was aggravating. He had been trying to get electricity at a construction site for 12 months! One full year! And he had met with the interior minister of the country to complain, and the minister said, “I didn’t ask you to come invest in Ethiopia. If you don’t like it, you can leave.” Not exactly a business-friendly environment.

The German was waiting to pick up a business associate who was flying in from Malaysia. The person’s name was Lyer, but he did not know the man’s nationality, his appearance, or even how to pronounce his name. We joked about the possible pronunciations. Was it pronounced like “lee-A”? Like “liar”? He said, “I don’t want to call him a liar!” I shouted, “Liar, liar, pants on fire!”

Finally, Mr. Lyer arrived, and my German benefactor left. I waited another half hour. The gorgeous woman in the wheelchair returned, now with her American friend who looked like she might be a Tri-Delt or a Kappa Kappa Gamma.

She said, “So, where’re you from?”

“Philadelphia.”

“Awesome!” she said. “I’m from DC!”

The two of them giggled. I knew they were truly American.

They asked if I needed help, and I felt shame that I had doubted the disabled black girl’s honesty, but once her able-bodied white sorority sister showed up, I felt completely comfortable. I told them no, my ride was on the way. I thanked them for their kindness.

And I waited another half-hour. The sun was climbing and I actually felt like I was getting sunburned. Hardly any cars showed up in the parking area. Taxi drivers kept approaching me and saying “Taxi? Taxi?” and I kept shaking my head. My throat was getting sticky. I hadn’t eaten since before dawn. I had nothing to drink, no money, no friends, no phone to call back. I wondered what to do.

One of the drivers was especially persistent, and I told him that I had a number to call, but no way to phone. He whipped out his cell phone, and I started calculating how many U.S. dollars I could give him to use it. He dialed the number and spoke to the voice on the other end in Amharic, the language of Ethiopia.Then he handed over the phone to me and the driver told me “five more minutes.”

I hung up. The taxi driver asked me if I would be needing any other driving done during my stay. He pointed out the high standards of the Addis taxi fleet. He was, all in all, extremely helpful, and I was grateful.

And then my ride arrived. “Misser Jay? Misser Jay!”

All sorts and conditions of men

January 9, 2014
7:10 p.m. Eastern Time
Ethiopian Airlines flight 501
Over the Mediterranean

I used to be a patient person, but that was before I moved to Philadelphia. I just told a new colleague, who was just moving to the city, “You’ve got to say what you want when you’re in Philly. Don’t walk into a store and wait for someone to help you. Walk in and say, ‘Yo, can I get some help over here!’”

Speaking of Philadelphia attytude, I was going through airport security this morning and someone had left a Yankees baseball cap on the x-ray belt. I called, “Did someone leave a cap? A Yankees baseball cap?” And the man in front of me turned around, thanked me, and took it.

Another man — big guy, probably Irish-American, said, “Yankees! You shoulda throwed that on the floor.” Smiling, I said, “I’m just trying to be a good citizen.” He grinned. “You’re not from Philoffia, are you.”

My delayed flight touched down at Washington Dulles Airport, and I still had a couple of hours before my nonstop flight from Dulles to Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines. But at my gate, there was a long queue — maybe a hundred people, and it wasn’t moving.

Did I need to wait in that line? I already had a boarding pass, and my bags were checked through to Addis, and my only carry-on was my small backpack.

I approached the front and caught the attention of one of agents. “Do I need to wait in this line?”

“Yes! You need a boarding pass!”

“But I have this one, see?”

“No, you need a different boarding pass. That one’s no good.”

So I went to the back of the line, which wasn’t moving at all. I struck up a conversation with a young woman who was going on a backpacking trip in Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda. She said, “Get used to this. This is so African — waiting in a long line for apparently no reason. Don’t rush. Just realize that you’re going onto Africa Time.”

I left the line and went to Dunkin Donuts. I ate my biscuit and drank my coffee. I responded to some e-mails for work, even though my “out of office” message is already on. And then I went back into the line, which had finally been moving but was still just as long as it had been. And then they called for boarding. “If you have a yellow sticker on your boarding card, you can begin boarding now.” And then, a few minutes later, “If you have a red sticker on your boarding card, you can begin boarding now.”

I struck up another conversation — this one with a big brute of a guy who looked like a trucker. I asked him where he was going. “Djibouti,” he said. “I don’t know why that country even exists. There is nothing there! You’re driving along a road, and you come across a group of men with shovels. They stop you and dig a hole. Then you pay them to fill in the hole and you keep driving. What kind of country is that?”

I said, “I guess the French wanted a port on the Red Sea, so they created one. And now there’s a tiny country there, but all it’s got is a port on the Red Sea.”

“Yeah,” he said. “At least on this trip, the feds sprang for business class. So maybe I’ll get some sleep.”

I wondered what his job was — some kind of government contractor — but I didn’t ask.

I was still 25 people from the front of the line, but there were 25 or more behind me. There were crowds and chaos. The people at the desk were unflustered. The people in the line who looked like they might be from Africa — the women in long colorful skirts, the men in track suits — were unperturbed. The Americans — a soccer team from Slippery Rock University off to do a service project, a church mission team, some aid workers, a few young hikers wearing bandanas, a wiry and spry old Jewish lady who will soon be climbing into high mountainous jungle regions to commune with rare gorillas — these were the frustrated ones.

But we all made it onto the plane eventually. And here we are, a collection of humanity. On my far left, a young man named Jon who works for a Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based aid organization that does microlending. He lives in Brazzaville and loves it, but his young wife wants to move back to Texas, where they are from. I can tell that he’s unhappy about returning to the States. But she wants to have kids, and not in Congo!

Next to Jon, a young Ethiopian man who listens to afropop on his headphones. On my right, a woman who lives in Angola while her husband works in the oil industry. She doesn’t like living in Africa — doesn’t like that one of her kids is at boarding school in the United States, doesn’t like that a head of lettuce costs $20 in Angola. I almost asked her, “Why don’t you eat like the locals eat instead of buying lettuce that’s been flown in from Chile?” But I think better of it. She’s not trying to do what the locals do. She is trying to create a “normal” American life for her kids, and she’s willing to kick against the goads to do it. I almost admire her stubbornness.

I’ve slept some on this plane, but my tailbone hurts now, and we still have four hours to do. I think we’re about to enter Libyan airspace — in fact, we’ll be over Benghazi in just a few minutes. May God grant rest eternal to our American ambassador who died 35,000 feet below me, and to all the people who have died during civil strife, both in LIbya and throughout Africa.

God, grant me safety on this trip. Safety for me, safety for those around me.

I am becoming my aunt

January 9, 2014
2:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Ethiopian Airlines flight 501
Over the North Atlantic

When I was a boy, I spent a surprising amount of time in the old international terminal at LAX.

My beloved Aunt Florence, who was the only grandmother figure I knew, was a missionary to Singapore, and she flew back and forth frequently. Back then, when security was laxer even though terrorist incidents were frequenter, our whole family would drive to LAX to greet her when she returned home from an international trip.

We would glide through security and stand at the gate, craning our necks to look up the jetway so that we could glimpse her as she appeared. Sometimes one of us held a posterboard that read “Welcome Home Aunt Florence.”

She used gift-giving to cement her relationships. An indefatigable gift-buyer and -giver, Aunt Florence would totter up the jetway overloaded with presents small and large. If she’d had a layover in Hawaii, there were leis for everyone. If she’d stopped in Tokyo, she would distribute little games or plastic toys. Sometimes she brought ivory keychains or pens made of coconuts. You never knew.

Seeing Aunt Florence depart from the airport was quite another matter. Usually her friend Elaine Kelly would drive her to LAX, and they’d be late. Aunt Florence was always had multiple jumbo-sized suitcases stuffed with books and papers and all kinds of materials that she used to teach counseling classes at her church in Singapore. She didn’t bring much in the way of clothes — she rotated through the same five polyester dresses for about 15 years — but her bags were so full! She tied them elaborately with plastic twine, creating a netlike pattern so that no one could possibly open her precious bags, and they would never burst open in the bowels of a 747.

When Aunt Florence arrived at the airport, looking haggard, she would tell us that she had been up for 48 hours straight getting ready. I couldn’t understand this — it just seemed like something she did, let getting her hair dyed bright orange at a beauty parlor.

But once Aunt Florence was back up the jetway and on her way to Singapore, she was the happiest clam in the sea. She’d sleep on that plane so that she would arrive refreshed. In Singapore, her other family would greet her at Changi Airport — usually several couples, sometimes with children in tow, who would drape her neck with flowers and welcome her with signs. These were the couples who had been in her premarital counseling classes, and they were fiercely loyal. They called her Mama.

Aunt Florence died 15 years ago, but I’ve been thinking a lot about her over the last few hours. As I was getting ready for my own overseas trip, I pulled a true all-nighter — I never crawled into bed last night.

I worked all day in Delaware and dozed on the train back from Wilmington to Philadelphia. I rode my bike in the subfreezing cold from University City station to Saint Mark’s, where I led the Bible study discussion about Jacob stealing his brother’s birthright. Returning home, I reserved a carshare car, dropped off a spare key at Brett and Geraldine’s place, returned some unused items to Target, and bought saline solution for Kitty, the friend in Africa whom I’m going to visit. I ate a “last meal” at Chick-fil-A — a shameful vice, but those waffle fries!

And then I went home. I had several things on my agenda: Finish packing. Go through the mail that had piled up when I was away over Christmas, making sure there’s nothing that needs a response right now. Prepare the cat litter and cat food for my time away. And write up the minutes for the last church Vestry meeting and send them to the whole Vestry.

This latter was very important — I’m not bringing my laptop on this African trip, so I won’t have access to the notes and templates that I use to write the Vestry minutes. And the minutes will have to be approved at the January 21 meeting, which I will miss because of my trip. I don’t really like the job of doing the minutes, so I always procrastinate. And now I’d done it again.

So I took care of the litter and the cat food, talked to my sister-in-law and Mom, put out the trash and went through the mail. And then I worked on the Vestry minutes, finishing at about 2 a.m. I mailed them to the Vestry, and then I worked on my packing.

Packing was a problem. Kitty has lived in South Sudan for the last 14 months, and it’s impossible to mail anything to where she is. There’s no postal service, no UPS, no Fed Ex. You just can’t get packages there unless someone brings them in.

So when I decided to visit, I offered to bring a suitcase full of things she might need. She sent out an alert to her relatives and friends, and they responded with generosity and abundance. I packed everything that had been sent, except for a few heavy things, carefully arranging everything in my big suitcase. And then I weighed it: 65 pounds. Not good!

So I stuffed everything that would fit into my duffel bag. Forty-nine pounds. And then I put the rest of it into the suitcase, along with my own clothes for the trip. Forty-nine pounds for this one too! My own clothes and shoes were probably 20 pounds at most.

Suddenly, it was 4:15 a.m. and I wasn’t even showered and dressed. So I hopped into the shower, and while I was still dripping, I phoned for a taxi. I threw on my clothes, dragged my mammoth bags downstairs, and sank into the taxi’s back seat at 4:50.

My flight was scheduled for 5:55.

I had become Aunt Florence! I arrived at the airport at the last minute, with giant overloaded bags, having stayed up all night. The only difference: No one was there to see me off, which is just fine with me. I didn’t want flowers, really.

Fortunately, my flight was delayed by 45 minutes, or I think I might have missed it.

Jay’s African Itinerary

NOTE: ET = Ethiopian Airlines

This itinerary assumes that we will be traveling to South Sudan, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely that we will be able to do so. The itinerary from January 21 to 25 will likely change.

January 9, 2014

6:10 Leave Philadelphia on United 3339
(Ethiopian Airlines confirmation code ULCFIO. United confirmation code D1QE2F)
7:10 a.m. Arrive Washington Dulles
10:15 a.m. Leave Washington Dulles on ET0501
(Ethiopian Airlines confirmation code ULCFIO)

January 10, 2014

7:45 a.m. Arrive Addis Ababa
Transport to Bethel Guest Home

Lodging:
Bethel Guest Home
http://www.bethelguesthome.com

January 11, 2014

Lodging:
Bethel Guest Home
http://www.bethelguesthome.com

January 12, 2014

Lodging:
Bethel Guest Home
http://www.bethelguesthome.com

January 13, 2014

Transport to Addis Ababa airport
7:40 a.m. Depart Addis Ababa on ET0122
8:45 a.m. Arrive Gondar
9:15 a.m. Depart Gondar on ET0122
9:45 a.m. Arrive Lalibella

Transport to Top 12 Hotel

Lodging:
Top 12 Hotel
http://www.toptwelvehotel.com

Contact: Eshetu Medane

January 14, 2014

Lodging:
Top 12 Hotel
http://www.toptwelvehotel.com

Contact: Eshetu Medane

January 15, 2014

12:15 p.m. Depart Lalibella on ET0123
12:45 p.m. Arrive Gondar
1:15 p.m. Depart Gondar on ET0123
2:20 p.m. Arrive Addis Ababa
10:45 p.m. Depart Addis Ababa on ET0821

January 16, 2014

12:55 a.m. Arrive Entebbe

Ground transport to
Red Chilli Hideaway Limited,
P. O. Box 40288, Nakawa Kampala,
Plot 13-23 Bukasa Hill View Road,
Butabika, Kampala Uganda. East Africa.

Complimentary shuttle bus: operating between Red Chilli and the centre of town. We have a 10-seater minibus that departs Butabika at 9am, 12pm and 4pm daily and terminates at the Nakumatt Oasis Shopping Mall (next to Garden City Mall) on Kitante Road. Departs town at 10.30am, 1.30pm and 5.30pm, also from Nakumatt Oasis. Please book ahead at reception or by email/phone to avoid disappointment as we can only take 10 passengers on each shuttle. Please note – the driver may not deviate from the set route! Special hire taxis can be arranged on request at any time and are available on site at Butabika.

Office +256 (0) 312 202903
Reservations: +256 (0) 772 509150
Tours Hotline +256 (0) 772 709151

Safari begins

January 17, 2014

Safari

Red Chilli Hideaway Limited,
P. O. Box 40288, Nakawa Kampala,
Plot 13-23 Bukasa Hill View Road,
Butabika, Kampala Uganda. East Africa.

January 18, 2014

Safari ends

Red Chilli Hideaway Limited,
P. O. Box 40288, Nakawa Kampala,
Plot 13-23 Bukasa Hill View Road,
Butabika, Kampala Uganda. East Africa.

Ground transport to
Surjio’s Guest House
Jinja, Uganda
http://www.surjios.com/home

January 19, 2014

Lodging:
Surjio’s, Jinja, Uganda

January 20, 2014

Lodging:
Surjio’s, Jinja, Uganda

January 21, 2014

Depart Surjios
6:30 a.m. Check-in at Entebbe
8 a.m. Depart Entebbe on Eagle Air
Arrive Yei

Lodging:
Harvesters Reaching the Nations, Yei, South Sudan
http://hrtn.org/about-us/#where

January 22, 2014

Lodging: Harvesters Reaching the Nations, Yei, South Sudan
http://hrtn.org/about-us/#where

January 23, 2014

Lodging:
Harvesters Reaching the Nations, Yei, South Sudan
http://hrtn.org/about-us/#where

January 24, 2014

Lodging:
Harvesters Reaching the Nations, Yei, South Sudan
http://hrtn.org/about-us/#where

January 25, 2014

9 a.m. Check in at Yei
10 a.m. Depart Yei on Eagle air
Arrive Entebbe

Transport to Entebbe Airport Guesthouse

Lodging: Entebbe Airport Guesthouse
Contact: Gina
http://www.gorillatours.com/gorilla-tours/airport-guesthouse-entebbe.html

January 26, 2014

5:25 p.m. Depart Entebbe on ET0500
7:30 p.m. Arrive Addis Ababa
10:15 p.m. Depart Addis Ababa on ET0500

January 27, 2014

2:25 a.m. Arrive Rome
3:25 a.m. Depart Rome on ET0500
7:30 a.m. Arrive Washington Dulles
12:25 p.m. Depart Washington Dulles on United 3333
1:25 p.m. Arrive Philadelphia