TIA - This is Africa
[singlepic id=266 w=585 h= float=] After three days in Ethiopia, I think I speak for the team in pronouncing that Ethiopia is more than and nothing like we expected. It is a country of stark contrasts. Extreme poverty crouches under the shadows formed by new modern buildings sprouting up on every block. Abundant hospitality fights against a slight skepticism of outsiders. Irrepressible dirt covers sidewalks and streets that are traversed by the most beautiful people (especially the women) I've ever seen.
One contrast we've come to know intimately is that communication happens face to face, but what you hear might change, dramatically, and without warning. Tonight we are still in Addis Ababa, although we were scheduled to fly to Dembi Dollo yesterday. The state run airline that has a monopoly on domestic air travel moved the only flight to Dembi Dollo 7 hours backward, without explanation or warning. They called our travel agent but the agent didn't call us. So, we missed the flight. The only response we could muster in light of this mess is "This is Africa." TIA does more than a shrug of your shoulders, and it's not really a wink. It's closer to an inside joke, but not exactly funny. It's an acknowledgement that there are some things that can't be explained with logic or reason and they won't change no matter how inconvenient they are so don't bother complaining or writing to your senator. Changing a flight time by seven hours one day before departure for no apparent reason demands that the stuck traveler respond with TIA, and then get to work confirming the next flight.
Tomorrow we'll attempt to get all 14 of us on the flight to Dembi Dollo, where we'll work on a coffee farm and witness a different style of life from the gritty urbanism of Addis Ababa. For now, see these pictures and keep us in your prayers.