Tuesday, May 25, 2010

entry 1 - 2 weeks later

Our trip got off to a bumpy start to say the least. We finally received our visas from the Ethiopian Embassy the day before we were scheduled to leave the states. Our flight from Chicago to London was delayed 2 hours, but we still had an 8 hour layover in London. During this time we decided to take in all that England had to offer, but first we had to get into the country. I passed through customs without any problem, however Ben had previously been denied a visa and had to “sweet talk” the customs agent into allowing him out of the airport for a couple of hours prior to our flight to Addis. After a 30 minute hassle, we were finally through customs. We jumped on the Underground and headed for the city. While in London, we stopped for the cliché fish and chips at a local pub and toured the Natural History Museum.

We were greeted the next morning at Bole International Airport by the owners of our guest house. After settling into our apartment and resting from the 2 day journey, we decided to walk around the city to get our bearings. This orientation to our new home has taken the entire 4 days we have been in Addis thus far. We have been lost, walked in circles through torrential rains, and had absolutely no clue where we were much of the time. Thankfully, we now have a map and are beginning to become accustomed to our area of the city.

Ben and I were without internet for our first 3 days in Addis. Although this does not seem like long, we felt obliged to try and let friends and family know we had made it safely. Not to mention the important things: try to go 3 days without checking email, twitter or facebook. After trying endlessly, we were finally able to get our CDMAs to work thanks to some help from new friends we met through a woman with whom we will be working.

In addition to these new friends, we have also met the individuals we will be working with closely. Dr. Gail Davey is a British medical doctor who is the leading expert in Podoconiosis. She has lived and worked in Ethiopia for 9 years now. We have also met Christel Ahrens, a German nurse and TOMS shoes consultant in Ethiopia with whom Ben will be working closely with on his project and Surafel Tadesse, another TOMS consultant in Ethiopia. They are all fantastic people and have made us feel as at home as possible.


  1. Mark, glad you guys made it there safely and aren't walking in circles (as much) anymore. And post more about this "sweet talk". Curious readers want to know. ; )

  2. Yeah- what exactly did Ben have to do to get through customs...