Below are some pictures I've taken over the past 24 hours (it seems like about 3 days! since I landed last night)... I had a 13 hour day today, 5 long meetings, 3 coffees, some amazing food, and a lot of progress. Marjorie called it an unqualified success - but I wish I would have had a day to de-jetlag and get some thoughts together before going straight into full-out miked presentations to a room full of 30 Ethiopian businessmen and women in suits, including the CEO and the General Manager of one of the largest insurance companies in the country. But on the other hand, we probably got more done today than in my entire trip to Malawi last summer. The coming days should calm down for a bit, but we just scratched the surface today of the potential partnerships that will be formed by the time I'm on a plane back home. It's definitely exciting, but my brain needs some sleep to process it all.
Addis is without a doubt one of the most impressive cities I've seen in a developing country - clean-ish, friendly, safe, and beautiful. I can see how some people can get addicted to it. The coffee equipment is way advanced (and although I don't drink coffee, I think its impolite to refuse something when someone offers), there's a great diversity of people, weather is pretty nice (although a few times today i was burning up in my wool suit) and a lot of times (this was the most unexpectedly exciting thing so far) when you walk into a restaurant, they have insense burning in the corner - full out burning logs in a small open brass pot and smoke that reminds me of the middle ages. And Marjorie says this is nothing compared to Tigray. Can't wait.
Tonight for dinner we went to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant in a large dimly lit yurt with candles and insense (of course) and grass on the floor and beautifully carved low wooden stools and tables (and staff in traditional dress, and a live Ethiopian band - a mix between middle eastern and chinese and african music - AND two little Ethiopian girls dancing by themselves on the dance floor). As you can guess, it was a lot of fun. Like I told my friend at dinner, my camera can record video, but it can't record smell too...
Flying KLM was pretty nice. Good movie selection, really good food, and I had a lot of room for most of both flights. And, Dutch people are funny.
Amsterdam was fun too. They sell wooden shoes in the airport.
And fresh tulips. Very stereotypical.
We flew over the Sahara Desert from Amsterdam to our fuel stop in Khartoum, Sudan.
Sand dunes in the Sahara over Egypt.
Crossing the Nile.
Landing in Khartoum. One of the driest cities I have ever seen - everything is the color of the desert.
A small patch of irrigation where the White Nile and Blue Nile join.
My Ethiopian immigration card.
Landing in Addis Ababa.
Our taxi from the airport to the hotel.
Check-in notice at the hotel.
We were starving.
My first Ethiopian food.
Ready for meetings in my new suit!
The Oxfam office.
Mother and child on our way to a meeting.
Breakfast (with incense in the background)
Insurance company CEO.
Roundtable meeting with insurance company branch managers.
Ethiopian beer at our lunch meeting.
Busy Addis street and Coke sign.