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.

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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.

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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!

Ethiopia Dispatch: Day 14: Sneak Peek


If you have been following my journey in Ethiopia these past two weeks you know that I am here planning the next International Reporting Project‘s trip. The focus? Newborn health!

By the way, if you are a new media journalist and believe you have what it takes to report on newborn health with the International Reporting Project in Ethiopia, be sure to apply by tomorrow. The application process is extremely, extremely competitive, but if this is something in your wheelhouse, go for it!

Since I have been planning this trip I, of course, can’t share my site visits, but today I will give a sneak peek photo of what I’ve been doing in Ethiopia. There have been many site visits that will likely make it on the final June itinerary. I’ve learned a lot in these past two weeks. This next IRP trip is going to be an exceptional opportunity for journalists of all stripes to explore newborn health here in Ethiopia and all of the issues that correlate with Ethiopia’s objective of reducing newborn mortality.

Heath Extension Worker

Health extension worker

Read all of my dispatches from Ethiopia.

Ethiopia Dispatch: Days 12 and 13: Hotel Living + Easter Sunday


Day 12: Friday, April 18, 2014

Hotel Living

It’s the beginning of the Easter holiday in Ethiopia and like most places around the world people are commemorating and celebrating. That means everything of interest to me, notably NGOs, are all closed until Tuesday so that also means I will be “hotel living” for the next few days. I do plan to get out and about in Addis if just up and down the street from my hotel.

One thing that’s certain is living in a hotel for the long Easter weekend is BOR.ING! I have been here so long I know the full menu backwards and forwards. I also know all of the staff who work here and their shifts. We’re all good buddies now after I’ve been here for nearly two weeks. They’re great, but  there is nothing to do except sit and twiddle my thumbs. I don’t want to go out much. After all, I am a woman in Addis and I want to make it back home, so wandering around town (even though I am well-traveled and it’s fairly safe in Addis save pickpocketing) is not in the cards for me this go-round.

So, I am relegated to watching a lot of BBC and CNN. There’s also international MTV which I am actually enjoying. Who knew international MTV was better than the homegrown one?

Day 13: Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sheep in the Street

I asked my taxi driver yesterday on my way to a meeting why there were so many sheep in the streets. He told me that for Easter families come together and buy sheep because you have to “spill the blood” for Easter. Large sheep can go for 3000 birr and smaller ones can go for 1100 birr. $1 USD = about 20 birr to give you some perspective on the cost.

Today on my way to the famous market here in Addis I saw not only sheep, but also large bulls  I suspect will be a delicious dinner for many, many families tomorrow. Did I tell you my favorite meal here in Ethiopia is beef tibs. So good!

Easter is huge in Ethiopia as many practice Orthodox Christianity. There are some Muslims and Protestants and further south where I was last week there are even some practicing Rastafarians, I’ve been told.

Most Ethiopians fast for 55 days prior to Easter eating no meat or dairy (even though nearly every Ethiopian I’ve met has sneaked a meat or dairy dish around me. Shhh!). Since you’re supposed to fast for so many days before Easter, Sunday is a day full of gluttonous eating and drinking. I was told to not even contact anyone on Monday because most people will be hung over. Duly noted.

My work days don’t get started again until Tuesday when I head out about three hours southwest of Addis. I do have one scheduled meeting on Monday that I am extremely grateful for. My time is winding down and I have to take advantage of every minute I have left in Ethiopia.

I wish you a happy Easter if you celebrate!  Meanwhile I will be sitting here watching TV. 

Cheers!

 

Ethiopia Dispatch: Days 9, 10, and 11


Day 9, Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On Tuesday we set out early for a five-hour drive to Arba Minch. The ride was pretty uneventful, if driving on partly paved, partly rocky roads is uneventful. You get that a lot in Africa: highway projects go very well until they don’t and you have to drive in mud and rocks for 20+ kilometer stretches.

My days in Ethiopia are speeding by now! I can hardly keep up.

I have been in Ethiopia for 11 days and so much has been accomplished in such a short amount of time! I’m a little astounded by that.

I just got back from a five-day trip to the southern region of Ethiopia. I wish I could have traveled further south, but my itinerary wouldn’t allow it. Ethiopia is extremely expansive. I drove a total of ten hours south, but there is only so much to see in such a small window of time. Also, the further you travel from the big cities the less likely you will be connected and I must be connected or else I lose my bearings! Those of you who know me in real life, know that to be true. If I cannot connect I become a madwoman!

On Tuesday and Wednesday I couldn’t connect to Wifi. I couldn’t call out on a landline and my local phone finally was able to receive texts and calls only after several hours. It was maddening, but it taught me that I need to just relax. It’s hard to do, especially for someone like me who lives on the Net. I survived, but it was painful!

I did have an amazing view, though.

But the view didn’t matter. All I wanted was my wi-fi, which, by the way, I didn’t get until I got to Hawassa a full day later.

Day 10: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

After I admitted to myself that I would never get on the Internet I decided to stand under these birds on Wednesday morning and just enjoy them and their collective chirping.

Day 11: Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thursday was all about driving back to Addis. It was a beautiful drive through the Great Rift Valley.

Ethiopia Dispatch: Days 7 and 8


Day 7, Sunday, April 13, 2014

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Today I spent about six hours driving south of Addis through the Great Rift Valley. It was a beautiful, sunny day to get away from capital city. After a hectic week it was a definitely a “no rush” kind of day. Today is Sunday so the road wasn’t crowded with a lot of commercial trucks.  Donkey carts and cattle herds were the only hindrances that added to the drive-time.

We stopped at a few places along the way: one place to have lunch and another place to have coffee – traditional coffee. Even though this is the fasting period for many Ethiopians there are still many meat dishes that are prepared everywhere you go.  It was my first time drinking coffee with tena adam (rue) added to it.  It gave the coffee great flavor – almost like cinnamon, but not quite.

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When we finally got to the hotel I decided to sit out in front of the lake to just relax for a moment, that’s when I saw him: a professional “slingshotter”! All he does is shoot at the precocious monkeys that are all around the compound. If the hotel didn’t hire someone to keep the monkeys at bay they will jump on your tables and eat your food, or attempt to.

Slingshotter keeping the monkeys away.

 

Day 8, Monday, April 14, 2014

I spent the entire day in the field – all day; that is until the rains came in the afternoon.

Out in the field

I did get back in time to see the lake before the sun went down. And, then it was off to dinner with new friends I met in the field.

Lake Hawassa

Tomorrow I head even further south.

More then! 

 

Ethiopia Dispatches: Days 4 and 5


*** Day 4, Thursday April, 10, 2014

When I woke up on Thursday morning I peeked out my tightly drawn curtains (I was trying to get some much-needed rest) and saw the sun shimmering across Lake Tana in all its splendor. It was beautiful. But, by the time I finally got downstairs to depart for my day in Bahir Dar the shimmer of the sun had faded away quickly, but the lake was still quite gorgeous.

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I am still attempting to wrap my mind around how big Ethiopia is. Friends, it is huge! It’s a country of 93 million people and the sheer size of the country is mind-blowing. How do I know? Because I am working on logistics for the rest of my time in Ethiopia in order to make sure I get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. There are some challenges, but I love an overground adventure!

After getting back from Bahir Dar on Thursday I immediately threw open my hotel windows in Addis  to hear the hustle and bustle of  the city below. There is always something going on in Addis like most capital cities.

Addis  Below

 

 *** Day 5, Friday, April 11, 2014

On Friday I had four office meetings and two site visits with NGOs. It was an intense day for sure, but full of fantastic possibilities for June. I hired a taxi driver for the day to take me around the city and wait as needed as my meetings were scattered throughout Addis.

It has been extremely nice having so many helpful NGO contacts in the States that have Ethiopian headquarters. It makes my life easier when I am in the planning stage. Global offices are in touch with each another. We all get to know one another. It’s perfect!

When I have traveled before I have never taken the time or energy to get a local number for the country I am visiting. But, in this case, having a local phone is imperative. I have loved being able to call and text my, now very many, contacts instead of having to rely on getting to Wi-Fi and reading my emails.

Tomorrow will one of my last days in Addis until the end of my trip where I will stay in the city to attend more meetings, meet more people, and iron out important details.

Ethiopia Dispatch: Day 3


Today I was in the Amhara region of Ethiopia in its capital Bahir Dar, a bustling lakeside town in the northern part of the country. I loved being just a quick Ethiopian Airlines flight away from Addis.

Bahir Dar is situated on Lake Tana, Ethiopia’s largest lake. I took this photo outside of my hotel as the sun was going down this evening. I wanted to capture a little bit of serenity after a very busy day filled with bumpy, unpaved African roads and miles of walking in the Ethiopian countryside.

Lake Tana

Right now it’s 4:30 AM in Ethiopia. I haven’t been able sleep well here thus far. I take cat naps in the evenings and then I can’t fall asleep until around 3:30 or 4:30 AM. Needless to say my body hasn’t gotten a full night’s rest since I’ve been here. I’m fine now, but it will certainly catch up with me. My task for the rest of this week is to make sure I get some rest! In fact, I am struggling to keep my eyes open to finish this post. All I can think about is getting coffee tomorrow morning.

When It Doesn’t Work for You, March On!

I almost stayed at this beautiful, pristine hotel tonight, but guess what? It didn’t have wi-fi in the rooms. The wi-fi  was only available around the pool and in a small lobby. That may have been OK if I was traveling for leisure, but since I’m working it was a deal breaker no matter how beautiful and whimsical it was.

Right now I’m in a hotel that has Wi-Fi in its room. It’s not as pretty, but I’m looking for functionality over beautiful grounds.

Hotel Hotel

I am going to be quite busy over the next few days but I’ll continue to write these dispatches from Ethiopia.

Now, I’m off to try to get a few hours of sleep before the sun comes up!