Notes from Addis: Arrival

I made it!  I left for Logan airport at 4:15 a.m. on New Year’s Day, and I arrived in Addis Ababa at 2:30 p.m. the following day, exhausted and relieved to have landed safely. I was just as weepy as I anticipated. As previously expressed in “The Grind: Going to Ethiopia (or Can Parents Have it All?),” I was nervous about leaving my family behind for such an extended amount of time. I tortured myself on the plane, looking through photos on my phone and watching a minute and half video of my two-year-old “reading” a book. Mommy guilt settled in as restlessly and as uncomfortably as my legs in economy for my 14 hour flight from New York to Dubai. Once I got to Dubai, I freshened up and got a tall soy americano from Starbucks.

dubai starbucks
Photo by Nikki A. Greene

Much to my surprise, when I checked in for my flight to Addis Ababa, the woman checked my ticket with a beep. The screen went red. Something was wrong I thought. She looked at me and said, “Madam, you’ve been upgraded to business class.” It’s amazing what a glass of champagne and reclining seats can do for your guilt-wrenched psyche.

My colleague David Olsen has been here since mid-December, and he’s been filling me in on all his life here thus far. We had dinner and took a stroll through the neighborhood to see the walk to the school. I’ll discover my own story (and will write about it whenever possible).

Alle School sign
Alle School of Fine Arts & Design Courtyard, Addis Ababa University. Photo by Nikki A. Greene.
Evening market stand in the neighborhood.
Evening market stand in the neighborhood. Photo by Nikki A. Greene

I crashed at 9:30 p.m.  I woke up at 4 a.m. I started reading Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her (very entertaining when you can’t sleep and Diaz is coming to speak at Wellesley in February), but then I finally cracked open the computer. Thank goodness for Facebook. Thank God for instant messaging, which has allowed me to reach my husband this morning when I couldn’t sleep. It was 5:30 am for me, but he’d just finished tucking the two year old in for the night. I got to ask mundane questions like, “what did you have for dinner?” He let me complain a little about being up and about my stomach still not quite settled from the 24 hour journey here. It provided some sense of normalcy for a particularly unusual environment. I’m in Ethiopia. That’s what I had to tell myself when I woke up expecting my two-year-old’s foot in my back. I’m. In. Ethiopia.

I’m adjusting to the time change and the high altitude. As I prepare for the days and weeks ahead apart from my family, I’m going to do my best to enjoy all the newness and surprises, the twists and turns to come. I’m starting with this room with a view.

Good Morning, Addis!
Good Morning, Addis! Photo by Nikki A. Greene

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