|This is Africa: Arrival and First Impressions|
That was a long series of flights! I took off from Washington Dulles around 10am and flew directly to Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia. This was a 12 hour flight. Addis Ababa is on the eastern side of Africa, and the first thing I noticed in the airport airport was the number of Chinese tourists. About half of the people there were African, then maybe 35% were Chinese, with some Indian, European, and Americans as the rest. Interesting!
So after about a 2 hour layover, I had to fly back to the western side of Africa to Abuja, Nigeria on a 4.5 hour flight. My body was so confused after all the back and forth, I didn’t even know what time or day it was when I arrived at Abuja because I had been through so many timezones!
Here is a photo arriving into Ethiopia :)
Isn't the engine cool?
On the tarmac in Ethiopia. Loved walking out and getting some fresh air!
The bustling airport of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Isn't this a cool looking language? It's Amharic, national language of Ethiopia.
Where's my gate? Thankfully I had enough time to walk around the airport a bit, even though I was pretty exhausted.
Waiting to board the plane to Abuja, Nigeria. Lots of Chinese guys here!
Don't run into me bro! Taking off from Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia from the air. Looked like a dry and somewhat scorched place!
And finally arriving into Abuja, Nigeria after a super long trip. I think I'm 'planed' out!
So when I arrived at Abuja, the immigration guys kind of gave me a hard time. They demanded to see all the paperwork (as if my visa on my passport wasn’t enough) and thankfully I had everything lined up in case for an event like this. So after checking and rechecking my passport, reading and re-reading my invitation letter, filling out an extra form, asking me questions, etc. they finally let me through. Of course since I had a suitcase, they told me I was to be inspected as well. Whatever.
Finally, I walked out of the airport and holy cow, African summer…hot. Coming from the winter in the US (albeit a mild one!) it was still a bit of a shock. Yea, just like they say, it’s hot in Africa! Not really a humid heat, but still you get toasty. Immediately I was like, man I didn’t pack for this. I should’ve brought more shorts and flipflops.
So I met Friday, who was my driver that took me to the Baptist Mission House. It was about an hour drive from the airport. The scenery and feel was similar of highland parts of Bolivia in some respects. It’s a poor country, but not necessarily dirty. I didn’t see a lot of trash everywhere like in some third world countries. Immediately I was grateful to be back in an environment that reminded me of the poverty of South America. I had missed this feeling.
I talked with Friday the whole way to the guest house. I think my ears were kind of deaf from being in the airplane for so long so it was hard to hear but we talked about the situation in Nigeria, the economic problems, Boko Haram, how Muslims and Christians get along, Trump, and all the interesting topics. We stopped by at the Chicken Republic where I learned that it was a little after noon (had no idea what time it was) and I was like oh so it’s lunch time?
Then we arrived at the guest house. It was similar to Tambo actually! After settling in and taking a nap, I met Esther our host. She’s so great. I found out that in Nigeria, English is a national language. But of course they have three main tribal languages as well as hundreds of other languages for different regions. And they also have Nigerian English which I thought was cool. So it’s just amazing that we can communicate so easily.
After an afternoon of talking with Esther about Nigeria, culture, etc. the Steinmans arrived. We ate dinner and talked about our plans for our time in Nigeria. We were supposed to fly the following day to Sokoto, which is in the north, but the flight was cancelled! So we’ll stay an extra day in Abuja and probably go shopping a little bit. I need to get some more shorts and flipflops and I think we’ll just tour around a little bit until Wednesday where hopefully we can fly to Sokoto, which is where we’ll spend most of our time.
This is my room in the guest house! It even has air conditioning, sweet!
Look at the outlets they use in Nigeria. Totally different! Thankfully there are adaptors so I can charge my devices :)
The living room in the main building of the guest house. This is similar to Tambo, the school where I grew up.
Africa is an amazing place. I still haven't seen much (just on the drive from the airport) but I'm looking forward to learning a lot more about what's all going on here. I'll be conducting some interviews today (Tuesday, I arrived yesterday) and taking lots of photos and portraits! I especially want to learn more about Boko Haram. I've heard about some really insane atrocities committed by this group and would like to answer the why, how, what, where, when questions. Next up, exploring Abuja and learning about the violent terrorism in this beautiful country.