Day 1: Arrival in Addis Ababa

As soon as I walked out of the airport terminal in Addis Ababa, I promised myself I was coming back to this place. The brisk air and lush, green view from up on the hill were a stark relief from the hot, dusty milieu of Dar es Salaam and an absolute tonic for my soul. Even the airport seemed modern, clean, and efficient in a way that Tanzania just isn’t. I taxied into the city, soaking up the surroundings—similar to Accra and Dar, sure, but new and exciting in its own way. I couldn’t get over how nice the weather was, sitting blissful with the windows down as my taxi driver weaved deftly in and out of traffic at a clip that suggested that even if I was on vacation, he had somewhere to be.

Mr. Martin’s Cozy Place, the hostel where I’d spend the first night, was clean and basic, with a very friendly staff. Still thrown from a lack of sleep—my flight was at 5 am and necessitated a 2 am departure—I napped a bit in the afternoon, worried I was squandering my vacation, then relaxing, realizing I have two weeks.

In the early afternoon, I walked into the busy part of the city, looking for a bus ticket north. Unfortunately, a student holiday had resulted in buses being booked solid—I was initially thrown, but eventually sprung for a cheap flight to Bahir Dar, my first stop. It was nice to be out walking, at least, though I underestimated the highland sun and copped a light sunburn while I was out.

I didn’t venture too far the first day, still groggy from travel, but I liked what I saw of Addis. I had dinner close to the hotel—shawarma in Ethiopia is on point—and the first of many, many, cups of coffee. It was surprisingly cool out—I might have to go buy a sweater, honestly. I was a little stressed about traveling, but I realized I just needed to get settled. Before bed I took a piping hot shower, which struck me as funny—in Dar, it’s important your hotel room has A/C, and hot water is really a secondary concern. Here, it’s the opposite: you best have the hot water ready to go, but my room didn’t even have a fan, that’s how nice the weather is. I turned in early, watching a little bit of a movie as I drifted off, excited for the days to come…

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