Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Getting to Addis - June 3

On our way to the airport this morning, I got an email on my Blackberry from the NVC saying our reprint approval was cabled to Ethiopia. Whew! It was a good feeling knowing all hurdles had been cleared.

We flew to JFK and waited 4 hours to leave for Dubai. We were very glad we chose Emirates. The service was great and they fed us constantly. We arrived in Dubai and were shuttled to our hotel, where they gave us dinner vouchers that we had no intent of using. Full from airline food, which was mostly Indian fare, all we wanted to do was sleep. Because in true Inman fashion, neither of us slept on the plane. Because we left NY at 11p flying east, basically chasing the sun, they made us keep all windows lowered so people could sleep through the daylight. We arrived in Dubai at dusk. It was all very weird. Our Dubai experience consisted of a 30-second walk from the shuttle to the hotel where we gasped at the ~100 degree humid temp.

The next morning we made the 3-hour hop to Addis. After studying my travel tips carefully and following some nondescript, handmade signage, we got our visa and exchanged $100 for 1,124 in birr. It's a good thing we did because a very assertive porter immediately pounced on us and held us hostage while he retrieved our bags. Our travel agent said to refuse this service if we wished, but let me tell you there was no refusing. He wasn't asking. And now, after 8 days in Addis and watching Ethiopians negotiate, I have no doubt we were taken ripped off. But, birr goes a long way and the pushy porter turned out to be helpful as we could not locate our agency rep outside of baggage claim. He called Nesibu and they arranged a taxi to bring us to the guesthouse (thank God I had Nesibu's number!) And because we didn't arrange the taxi fee before the ride, we were introduced to Birtukan and Nesibu over some very spirited negotiation with the taxi driver.

Birtukan helped us get settled in our room, announcing that we were not guests but family. Then we hung out waiting to hear from Bethany about when we could see Dawit.


Holly said...

Quite an experience, wasn't it?! :D

Evelyn said...

It is so helpful to read this to know what to expect! Thank you and phew! You made it!