2/28/14: It’s hard to believe this day has finally come. Mark and I have been preparing for months; making travel arrangements, being vaccinated, applying for government documents, and packing. Now we are on a plane headed to Ethiopia.
We arrived in Minneapolis and breezed through security only to find our plane had been delayed. When we took off (2 hours later) it was snowing and a bone chilling 7 degrees. I was more than happy to leave the Midwest winter behind.
The flights to Newark, and then Frankfurt, Germany were pretty uneventful. I didn’t go to sleep Thursday night, so I slept for most of the flight. Mark was nice enough to wake me for meals (and take a couple of very unflattering pictures of me passed out).
When we arrived in Germany we had to go through security again. The German version of the TSA is a bit stricter. They took apart every piece of camera equipment we had, and both Mark and I were called into special screening rooms where some sort of “expert” took another look at our camera equipment. Thankfully, we got the all clear. We thought we were on our way to catch our 3rd and final flight into Ethiopia. We thought wrong! We got poor directions from an airport employee. Instead of walking to our next gate, he sent us out of the secure area. We had to go through security ALL OVER AGAIN. This time the screeners couldn’t care less about our equipment, but asked Mark to take his hat off.
Completely exhausted, we finally touched down in Addis Ababa around 9:30 local time. All together the trip from La Crosse to Addis took 29 hours! It was by far the longest journey I had ever taken, and one of the most exciting.
It took almost 2 hours to get our bags and go through customs. The customs agents were very interested in our camera. Their biggest concern was Mark planned to sell it. He assured them it was coming home with us and they let him though.
The weather was beautiful; clear sky and 55. It was a huge change from Wisconsin! It felt so good to walk to our shuttle in just a sweatshirt and pants.
There are no street signs, no markings on the road, and as far as we could tell very few traffic laws in Ethiopia. Our driver sped through town passing vehicles, bikes, even people. If someone honks at you, you better get out of the way. They are not slowing down or moving for you!
Our hotel, the Sadula Lodge, had all the western amenities except one; there are no screens on the windows. Mark and I took advantage by hanging over the ledge to snap a few photos. It was almost 1 AM local time when Mark and I finally hit the sack. Our adventure to Project Mercy would start in less than 6 hours.