Ethiopia – first 72 hours



I landed at Bole airport in Addis Ababa around 3:30 am. But by the time I realized that – in fact -my bags had not made the connection in Cairo (which I had suspected – and specifically asked the EgyptAir agent “but my bags were only tagged to Cairo – how will they make it?” –

“no problem – they are already on the plane”

Since i was in transit – he was the only desk that I could get to -and I was directed on through transit security – which involved everyone passing through a metal detetor that went off – and you just keep walking.

Needless to say the bag of French cheese that was pretty ripe smelling when we put it in my suitcase – was seriously stanky after sitting in the heat of the Cairo International tarmac for 24 hours before being sent on to Addis.

I didn’t realise it at the time I booked my tickets – but I landed on Ethiopian Easter weekend. (over the weekend one prayer went like this: “Thank you Lord for what you did for us that first Easter – we’re not sure why you did it for the Ethiopians 3 months later – but thanks anyway”) So that meant that the day I landed was a holiday – Good Friday – so there was nothing I could do in Addis as all offices were closed.

Aaron and Zide and some friends were heading down south to lake Longano to stay with some other friends who work there at a clinic/school/kids camp/church on the lake- so I gladly accepted that offer. Slept for about 3 hours and then headed out of town.

On the way out of town Aaron pointed out that the spare tire in our van was flat – so maybe we should have that taken care of – so we found someone who  gently removed the tire from the rim with his pointed 4kg sledge hammer – put in a new tube – and we were off.



On the way out of the city the scenery started changing quite quickly  – and I saw stuff like:




About an hour or two into our drive there was an enormous BANG-THUMPTHUMPTHUMP as we blew out our right front tire. Good thing we had a spare.

Luckily I had just changed our snow tires off our car a few weeks before (which seemed surreal to think of in the surroundings I found myself in) – so I was all in practice so I slid the jack under the van, Aaron popped off the tire and we were off like a professional pit-crew.  But – in the few minutes it took us – people started coming to see why this van full of faranji – white people- was stopped on the side of the road in the middle of nothing. First a few kids came from behind trees. Then people walking down the road. I counted 35 when we left. And there were none when we stopped. In fact – when we stopped you would have sworn that there was no person for a long distance in either direction.

We tried to fix the now flat tire -by stopping at tire shops (road-side huts with a pile of used tires)- but none had the size we needed – so we hoped we didn’t blow another tire and kept driving.

Assistant Manager at the tire store

We passed hundreds of these traditional farms where the family lives in a mud and thatch house and plow the fields with two oxen and a single-blade plow.


the “bridge entering the compound”


Ove the next few days I saw an amazing assortment of animals around this beautiful lake.















On our second morning two of us when for a run along a dirt road past mud and grass huts where all the little kids come out and yell “faranji faranji faranji” or “You You You You”. We pretty much had a parade as we ran through these tiny settlements. We finished that run in a torrential downpour where said road turned out to be a dry river bed, and very rapidly turned into a river.


camels being herded on our way back into Addis


Pretty amazing first 3 days in the country – and I felt so overwhelmed with hospitality as Aarron and Zide are friends of friends that we have only met a few times in France- and the people whose house I stayed at I met as I was brining my stuff in to stay the weekend.

Nice start to the trip….


2 responses to “Ethiopia – first 72 hours”

  1. Amazing

  2. Mary Ellen Simoni Avatar
    Mary Ellen Simoni

    Wow – George! That looks fantastic and a little surreal. What are you doing in Ethiopia??? When are you going to take a side trip to Dubai?

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