Day 3: Addis to Bahir Dar

I woke up to a hot, hot shower and a nice little breakfast at the hotel, followed by some reading. Every time I get freaked out about seeing all the things and making the most of my precious vacation, I force myself to sit somewhere comfy and read a couple chapters of whatever book I’m working on, reminding myself that time is the ultimate luxury. I wandered around the block, had a coffee, and got back to the hotel in time for check out. I didn’t have to leave for my flight until 2:30ish, so I lounged around doing some writing and went down the street for lunch. Living out of cut-rate guestis for years in Tanzania, I always forget how damn accommodating real hotels are: holding your bags while you go out, advising you where to have lunch, calling taxis, letting you leech their wifi even though you checked out like 2 hours ago. It’s nice.

Getting to the airport was no problem and checking in was a breeze. It feels so fancy to be flying domestic (I’m trying not to dwell to much on the cost), but then there was the reminder that I was still traveling in the developing world: the plane was casually 45 minutes late and the staff didn’t really feel like making an announcement. It was basically waiting for a bus in the Njombe stendi, just with less people selling bagia.

I’ll never get tired of runway boarding for planes—I think it adds drama and a sense of adventure to what has become a routine form of travel. Planes are super cool! Why not walk up to them as they tower above you and mount the stairs from the tarmac, ascending into awesomeness. Jetways are super lame, now that I’m thinking about it. Having everyone down on the runway also allows for the cultural disregard for lines in Ethiopia—very much akin to Tanzania—to shine through with beautiful incongruence in a high-tech, modern world moment. This totally freaks out most Western tourists, and the only thing that keeps me from getting annoyed with the jostling is watching them get flustered and smirking a little to myself—I was there once.

When I finally got onboard, I found someone in my seat—15C. After producing my boarding pass and politely explaining that I believed there was a misunderstanding, the dude sitting there found his stub, which indicated seat 29J. Another classic move from the bus-riding days: jump in a way better seat that your own and hope no one notices. Feign confusion when they do. Then, act like you’re the one being inconvenienced as you make the walk of shame back to your assigned seat. It was actually pretty funny, since my seat was next to a priest. In fact, most of my section was made up of priests in traditional Orthodox gear. They had some pretty dope black and red stoles on, which I would totally rock as a giant scarf, but I resisted the urge to ask where I could pick one up.

The flight was fine, with barely enough time to wolf down the provided sandwich and have some water before we were landing again. The Bahir Dar airport is outside of town and opens up into the countryside—it was beautiful in the late afternoon with the sun starting to go down.

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Once I made it into town, I ran around between a number of fully booked pensions, getting increasingly concerned as it got increasingly dark, kicking myself for not booking in advance—a common theme on this trip. I finally opted to head to a hotel that was well worth its added cost in sanity, clean sheets and service. Plus, they had wifi and I got to Skype the folks before turning in for the night, which was super cool.

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