n every relationship there is a first impression – cities and countries included. Today, day one, has my mind flitting from image to image as that first impression of my relationship with Addis Ababa, and Ethiopia, begins to form. These are a few of those images:
- An airport that I was able to glide through and a visa that only cost $20. The crowds upon exit did not crush me or force me through an uncomfortable river of taxi drivers.Â
- Over breakfast I was blessed to share a table with three Ugandan parliamentarians, all women, here for a conference. You never know who you will meet before you are caffeinated. But the coffee moments later was strong and wonderful.Â
- At the hotel and office, people have been kind and friendly, but not in an intrusive or overbearing manner.Â
- On each floor in the office was a station for hot beverages that had three thermoses: tea, coffee, and hot milk. Small tea cups are found in plentitude – a Starbuckâ€™s tall would be an extra large.Â
- Two flights of stairs make my heart go: Kaboom…Kaboom…Kaboom.At 7,700 feet elevation, my body needs to do a bit of adjusting. (Thankfully it does not go: KABOOM…KABOOM…KABOOM, thus bringing me some hope that I am not 100% out of shape.)
- The coolness of the altitude makes for an incredibly easy transition from Nashville spring.
- Ethiopian foods rich with flavor were served family style at the canteen (lunch room). It is good to be in a place where oneâ€™s right hand smells of the richness of local cuisine.
- Sim cards for cell phones are hard to come by, and East African sim cards (e.g., Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, etc.) do not work here. Tomorrow I get to borrow one for my stay. But even that will probably not work where I am going first part of the week. A government controlled market.
- Tea starts with spiced water and is outstanding.Â
- On my hour long walk this evening I did not run into another white face. I also received wonderfully little attention.Â
- Children cannot resist returning a smile when you look them in the eye.Â
- There is not much traffic on the roads. Side streets remain unpaved. Taxis have blue bodies and white tops.Â
- Some women wear pants, primarily jeans, but a womenâ€™s calves do not seem to be shown. Sleeveless tops also seem to be out.Â
- Over coffee and cake, the group of women I was with laughed beautiful laughs.
- My skin is coated with the film that comes from a desert city (end of the dry season) which is not exclusively sterilized by pavement and sidewalks and air conditioners.Â
- The local beer I had tonight, St. Georgeâ€™s, was a not bad, but certainly not something to write home about. But, the shield on its logo was something not normally seen on a beer bottle.Â
Those are some of my first impressions. Yes, they are fragmented and hop from one thing to another, but is that not the joy of a first impression? First impressions take time to get oneâ€™s mind around and to attempt to unpack. They are filled with emotions and hidden observations. It is part of the m