Monday, January 23, 2012

Day 1 – The journey Friday Jan 20 to Saturday Jan 21

Goal: Fly from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

When I discussed with my colleague Johnathan about joining him in efforts to teach and train geography faculty toward an end goal of a new digital atlas of Ethiopia, I immediately thought of flexibility. The challenges ahead were so simple, yet at each step it became more and more daunting. Flexibility.

At 1:30PM, snow flurries began to fall. Our flight was scheduled for 3:26PM to Detroit and then a 5:30 out to Amsterdam, from whence we would fly to Addis. Flexibility. We re-routed to Detroit knowing our flight was delayed till 4:10PM to fly instead to Frankfort, Germany at 7:30 from Detroit and then to Addis, arriving in Ethiopia about the same time had we gone through the Netherlands instead of Germany. Flexibility. The snow fell in earnest as our plane finally arrived at the airport for us to leave Grand Rapids. We boarded (however somehow we got deleted from the flight and our boarding passes didn’t work) and at 5:45, they finished de-icing the airplane. After a bit, we finally arrived at Detroit in pouring snow at 7:05. Flexibility. Sprinting to our next gate, we were the second to last to arrive and got on the airplane (after those boarding passes also failed). Haha!

By far, the Delta flight from Grand Rapids to Frankfort on a 767, was simply the finest overseas flight I have ever had. My traveling companion, Emma, who is one of the top students I have had the privilege to work with at Calvin College, was able to sit in our own isles, stretch out, sleep a little and watch an impressive A-Z list of any movie on demand at our seat. I watched The Dark Knight and X-Men First Class. I also nibbled on the delicious cookies that my wife Kellie made – thanks sweetie!

The rest of the traveling was fairly uneventful, except for the stuffy flight to Addis (I watched Cowboys vs. Aliens and Harry Potter 7.2), the hour wait to get our visas (they forgot to install a WC between the plane & immigration!), my luggage lost (still sitting in Detroit), and our US Embassy driver left us stranded to get a taxi to our place of residence in Addis, the old Sudan Interior Mission station who house many visitors to Ethiopia, especially those related to Christian mission work. Johnathan grew up in Ethiopia and his parents spent many days here at this large mission house.  Flexibility (the taxi ride was great – what an adventure!). 

Ah a nice clean place to sleep, quiet (except for the nightclub next door), and I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way. Gotta embrace the need for flexibility.

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