Living in Two Time Zones

It’s been great living in two time zones. I’m usually up extremely early (around 3 AM EST) making calls to Addis. I go back to sleep for a hot second and then I’m up early again getting ready for east coast time. And then I crash early in the evening and repeat it the next day. I love it!

Before I start getting sleepy each evening my family and I head out to a greenway to feel the spring air. Hearing all of the birds and smelling the grass, flowers, and trees is infectious. It’s something my senses will always remember. There is nothing like spring in the south.

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Spring Evenings + Southern Magnolias

When I was a kid we had a sprawling Southern magnolia tree in our yard. Each year I would wait for it to bloom with its magnificent white, fragrant flowers so I could try to jump and reach one and bury my nose in it. I never did reach one, but I could smell the beautiful flowers all the time. I’ve been in love with Southern magnolias ever since.

Yesterday evening near dusk we went for a walk and again I tried my best to reach a flower when we passed a Southern magnolia, and again, I couldn’t reach one. But my camera lens could reach a few. The best, most beautiful flowers are always the ones high in the trees you can never get to.

Southern Magnolia

Have you ever smelled a Southern magnolia? If you haven’t, be sure to put it on your to-do list!

Southern Magnolia

By the way, I am so honored that my Tumblr blog got featured on Tumblr’s staff blog today. They also featured one of my photos from Tanzania. I couldn’t be happier!

Weekend Sounds + Good Reads

This is the first full week I’ve been home since Ethiopia. Of course, it’s been an adjustment, but overall I think I’ve done a pretty good job getting back into a normal routine. My body has transitioned to east coast time so although I am still going to bed earlier than usual I am still waking up around 6 AM. That’s definite progress.

New Coltrane Photos

I read a fantastic piece in today’s Smithsonian Magazine by Nelson George about newly found photos of John Coltrane in New Photos of John Coltrane Rediscovered 50 Years After They Were Shot. It’s a great article. Be sure to go through the slide show. I grabbed two of my favorite Coltrane songs to commemorate the occasion!


Contraceptives in Pakistan

PRI’s Ninth Month series covers pregnancy and childbirth around the world. Take a listen to Sonya Narang’s piece out of Pakistan about mothers-in-law who hold sway over a woman’s contraceptive choices: What if your mother-in-law decided when you got pregnant?

Kerry in Africa

As you may know Secretary of State John Kerry is in Africa on a diplomatic mission. Today he gave a speech in Addis about America’s commitment to the continent. The United States already has a large humanitarian and global health commitment to Africa, but as Kerry said in his speech I hope that the United States invests more in business and education as well as entrepreneurship and harnessing the bright, young minds in Africa. There is already progress in that direction.

Pharma Deals

I am fascinated by this impending deal between Pfizer and AstraZeneca. Pfizer wants to buy AstraZeneca for $100 billion (with a B)! That is a mind-boggling amount of money and shows once again how deep pharma’s pockets really are.

Ethiopian Beer

I have written here before at length that I love beer and everywhere I travel I find new-to-me beers to try.  This time while I was in Ethiopia I tried Meta beer. I had a few bottles during my few weeks in Ethiopia. Mainly I drank St. George which is the most popular in my estimation. Meta is good, too. And, as it turns out, I’m not the only person who enjoys a good Ethiopian beer.

Ethiopia’s Meta Abo Brewery was purchased in 2012 by Diageo, one of the world’s largest drinks companies, to grab a foothold into Ethiopia’s quickly growing beer market.

meta beer

Me, Elsewhere

All week I have been sharing photos on my Instagram and Tumblr. Some of them you may have seen before. Others you may not.

Finally Home

The longest I have ever stayed away from my family was four days shy of a month when I traveled to Zambia, Tanzania, and South Africa last October. This trip to Ethiopia, in comparison, was nothing close to that! I was only there for little over two weeks. Now I am home and getting back into the groove of things.

Before getting home I spent two days in Washington. It was nice getting into DC after a 15 hour flight from Addis. I always love going through customs and hearing the officer say, “Welcome home.” As much as I love traveling the world, I also love coming home. There’s nothing like it!

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Where to Stay in Addis Ababa

Radisson BLU Addis
Whenever I travel – no matter where I’m going from Atlanta to Lusaka – I always, always Google where I will be staying. This is true whether I am making my own reservations or if someone is making them for me. I like knowing at least a little about a hotel before I arrive. Hotel web sites are, of course, helpful, but Trip Advisor is consistently my go-to online destination to find the best reviews of hotels and restaurants. In the off-chance I find a blog review about a hotel those are perpetually the most helpful to me. With that in mind I am sharing how much I love the Radisson BLU Addis in case you might be deciding whether to stay here or not.

First, I will say that I have stayed at a Radisson BLU Dwarka in Delhi, Lusaka, and now in Addis. They all have been phenomenal. The food is great with a diverse menu. The wi-fi works very well. The rooms are new. The service is exceptional. I have never had a problem at any Radisson BLU where I’ve stayed. They are well-decorated and also very safe. Each Radisson BLU I’ve visited has had security at the gate to get in. You have to run your belongings through the security scanner. In Delhi the guards even did a search under every visiting car with a search mirror. That is always comforting.

Also, if you will be spending a lot of time in Addis for work, the location is near most government buildings. There isn’t, however, much to walk to save for a few coffee shops and a bakery down the street from the hotel. You can also walk to the Hilton in case you’d like to have lunch there or need to make travel arrangements. The one thing about the Radisson BLU is they don’t have a hotel store, so if you forget anything like batteries, deodorant, aspirin, etc, you’ll have to find it elsewhere.

There is a bank on site, three ATMs, as well as an Ethiopian Airlines office.

While both the Radison BLU Lusaka and Delhi have swimming pools, the location in Addis does not. Some of the most well-known hotels in Addis have sprawling grounds and very large pools like the Hilton and Sheraton. The Radisson BLU has a very nice coffee shop, a patio where you can eat or smoke outside, as well as a cozy lobby area where you can dine or have drinks. The Radisson BLU Addis also has a fantastic spa and gym. The spa is extremely inexpensive. Facials will cost you about $20 USD.

Radisson BLU Addis

Unlike some hotels in the States that make you pay for water in your room, the Radisson BLU provides one complimentary bottle of water each day.  I love that each room also has a minibar especially for those moments when you just want a Coke, Meta beer, or Ambo, but you don’t want to order something from room service or go downstairs.

And finally, what I really love about the Radisson BLU is their “one touch” service. If you need anything just hit the “one touch” button and the staff will get you anything you need or help you in any way they can.

Radisson BLU Addis Ababa

Ethiopia Dispatch: My Last Days in Addis: Days 16 and 17

South African Red WineAfter spending over two weeks in Ethiopia it was time to decompress a little with some really great red wine imported from South Africa on my last evening in Addis. Today was spent interviewing potential translators, tying up loose ends, making phone calls and texts, and putting things in place before I leave.

As I mentioned before I am fairly astounded by how much I have been able to accomplish while in Ethiopia. I made it to four cities, went on countless site visits and meetings, met amazingly sharp people and ate really delicious Ethiopian food.

I haven’t mentioned much about food during my dispatches, but all of the Ethiopian food I’ve had has been delicious. Even though I am not a huge fan of injera, Ethiopia’s staple food made from the grain teff,  it has been quite tasty with spicy dishes. I have added chilis and jalapenos to everything. The spicier the better for me!


Throughout my travels north and south I have eaten everything from traditional Ethiopian food, to salads (never once got sick), to European food.


You might be surprised that Ethiopia has really fantastic Italian restaurants. I’ve visited two Italian restaurants in Addis and was floored by the quality of the food. But, it makes perfect sense: Italy briefly occupied, not colonized Ethiopia. So while the Ethiopians under Emperor Haile Selassie kicked the Italians out, some vestiges of the occupation remain, namely the food.  Pizza and pastas are amazingly good here in Ethiopia.

Day 17

My last day in Addis was spent in the field visiting clinics that were utterly fascinating. Now that I have been in Ethiopia for some time it is easy for me to see many of the differences in health care here.

One great thing about taking a late flight back home is you still have a full work day. But then when it’s time to get ready to go the time just whizzes by. My flight makes one stop in Rome on the way back to Washington.  In all, it will be about 15 hours in total.

Back to Washington I go. And then I’ll return in June. I miss it already!




Ethiopia Dispatch: Day 15: Addis

The sun is going down over Addis Ababa as I write this post. There are only streaks of dark clouds on a pale blue evening sky.

I have always wanted to visit Addis ever since I was a child. I’m not sure when I first heard about Addis Ababa. Whenever it was I wanted to come here right away, so it’s a bit surreal to look out of my hotel window and see the beautiful mountains surrounding this lovely city. There’s something quite amazing about Addis that I don’t feel anywhere else in the world. It really is a place unto its own.

Today was a good day with great meetings. One meeting ended in a coffeehouse here in Addis where I had another phenomenal macchiato. As far as I’m concerned, you can never take too many coffee shots.


Even though I am not staying at the Sheraton, Addis’s most prestigious hotel, I do understand why many flock to it especially during all of the high-level meetings that tend to take place here. The landscaping is beautiful and a friend tipped me off to the best view of Addis – right from the Sheraton hotel.







I only have a few more days left in Ethiopia. I am saddened by that, but ready to go home and be with my family! I still have more meetings and site visits before I finally wrap up this trip this week. And then I will be back in June!