Ethiopia Dispatches: Day 1


This trip to Ethiopia is going to be a bit different from all of my other trips to Africa. This one is going to be more cryptic and without a lot of photos. I’m here planning the next IRP trip in June and can’t give away a lot in my dispatches. But, writer that I am, I still want to share as much as I can without spilling any beans.

Today was full of meetings replete with brain power. I love those! I am entirely fortunate to be around people who believe in global health reporting and global health in general and implementing programs that work and save lives. It’s utterly astounding to me how I even got here. I’ve always said whatever it is in your life that you want just go after it! We only have one life to live, so live it!

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It was a beautiful, sunny day in Addis today. The temperature only went up to the mid 70s – the perfect weather for being out and about in many taxis.

I took a cab to a heavily crowded shopping district about 20 minutes from my hotel where I was able to buy a local phone – a Samsung – with the help of my taxi driver. No iPhones here, folks! At least not what I’ve seen. Like every other country I’ve visited, everyone has their mobile phone stuck to their ear. It’s like the United States except in the US you see more people looking down at their phones bumping into people because we can tweet and text and type and read and post on Facebook all at the same time. I think in countries like Ethiopia, calling and texting are the major cellphone habits, but I’m not entirely sure about that just yet.

When my taxi driver parked his car in this crowded shopping district he warned me to hold on tight to my purse and keep it closed, which I did wholeheartedly. I heard him loud and clear, but one great perk of “looking” Ethiopian is no one pays you any attention. I blend in, so everyone on the street has been pretty indifferent to me unlike in other countries like Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania where I stand out. I’ve even been called a “black mzungu” before in said countries. Blending in is such a great perk even though I don’t know a lick of Amharic.

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I took a walk along the road where my hotel is located. There was an amazing bakery with freshly baked bread and plenty of coffee shops and small eateries. I must visit them when I have a free moment, which according to my schedule, is never, but I may be able to make some time to sit with the locals. I like to get out with the Ethiopian people and stumble along the rocky, uneven sidewalks, brush shoulders with people who have places to go and minibuses to catch, and dodge taxis while I’m crossing the street.

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I will be here during the Easter holiday and while I am not heavily religious you better believe I am going to see some Orthodox Christian ceremonies while I am here. I was given some really amazing destinations to visit on Easter; not the overcrowded ones that everyone talks about or are highly encouraged in the travel guide books, but the ones that are just as amazing, but not heavily attended. I’ll take photos if I can.

By the way – only every seven years Ethiopia shares Easter with our calendar, so I am very lucky in that regard.

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Tomorrow is going to be full of meetings again! More then.

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