I’m sitting in my room at the Ghion Hotel in Addis Ababa. It 6:20 in the evening, but my brain still tells me it’s 9:21 in the morning and that I just missed a full night of sleep. I’m exhausted. If I start to slur my words, forgive me. I don’t want to go to sleep just now, though. I’m trying to fight it off until at least 9:00 so I can get a decent night’s sleep and try to adjust to this time zone.

Dusk is settling in. Just outside my massive window, there are towering trees and brightly coloured flowers. They’ve just turned on the lanterns along the footpath. It’s quite a beautiful view. The hotel grounds are quite magnificent.

So far, things are going well. I got in early this morning after another long flight. I didn’t sleep well on that flight – mostly because I was frickin’ cold the whole time. Those thin blankets they give you on planes just don’t do much to fight the chill.

I had a short nap when I got to my room, and then Kebede, our Ethiopian consultant picked me up to take me to the Ministry of Information where we applied for our film permit. For a few scary moments, it looked like it would be touch and go because I’d gotten a tourist visa instead of a business visa. But it looks like they’re going to let it pass. We have to pick it up tomorrow. Navigating the bureaucracy is challenging in ANY country, but it’s multiplied when you’re in a developing country and they’re speaking a foreign language. Thank God for Kebede who’s an old pro at working the system around here!

I have a reasonably good dial-up connection at the hotel, so I may be able to post once or twice before we hit the road on Monday. Tomorrow – SHOPPING! I’ve already seen some nice souvenirs I’ve got my eyes on.

Unfortunately, my joy at being here is tinged with a bit of sadness. The first email I opened when I turned on the computer was one from Marcel with the subject line “sad news”. Of course, it was with some trepidation that I opened it. Sadly, a close family friend – my best childhood friend Julie’s dad – was killed in a car accident. I feel a little sick with sadness that I can’t be there for Julie during this time. She was there for me (and my mom) when my dad died and now I really wish I could return the favour. I know how it feels to be punched in the gut with the sudden death of a parent.

Time to head to the dining room for supper. Talk to you soon!

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