It has been an interesting and unexpected couple weeks in Addis. We packed our bags to leave Assosa on March 27 since our one month NGO business visas that we had entered the country with was expiring and we needed to go to Addis to transition into our work permits. It was only supposed to be a couple day run to the big city just for a little paperwork. We arrived in Addis in the middle of a thunderstorm with a screeching braking stop on the runway. Rain pounded on the tarmac and the cooler temperatures were a bit of a shock to our sun-warmed Assosa systems. I looked out of the plane window and it kind of seemed like I was home in Vancouver…spring or fall Vancouver!
The next day, our bureaucratic adventures began crossing the busy city traffic numerous times in a scavenger hunt like search for the different people, offices and the correct documents which seemed to change according to the staff behind the desk. Our amazing staff at the office had been working on this process for since we arrived in the country and it was stilll in process about a month later. Since it was taking some time, unfortunately our visas expired so we first had to get new visas before we could get our work permits. Then, the computer in the visa office broke down for almost a week so that whole process was also delayed. I have learned that things always take a bit longer than expected. I felt silly packing my whole backpack for a couple days in Addis but when that turned into a couple weeks, I really appreciated all I brought!
Our staff have been great and have really looked after us but it was an interesting experience to be sort of in the grey area of visas. Our passports were always in process at the visa office but they didn’t give us a sheet or anything that said that we were in process while we were here. The first day, I didn’t leave the hotel and the second day, I walked a little around our neighbourhood and the next day I walked a bit farther. Phil was excitedly learning all the streets in Addis since his phone now connects well to internet again. I think he probably knew the streets of Addis more than most people following along on Google Maps as we navigated the busy streets. He was joking around that he might end up driving a taxi if this whole visa processed didn’t work out, which was kind of hilarious and ironic to think of a Canadian doctor driving a taxi in Ethiopia.
It has been nice to have the time in Addis to catch up on all of the interneting, some paperwork, friends and co-workers in Addis and even checking out some live Ethiopian Jazz music…and eating all the cheese and dairy I could. I had something like 900 notifications on my Facebook after 3 weeks in Assosa and interestingly, I realized that I don’t actually miss Facebook all that much! I bought a couple things that I couldn’t find in Assosa (such a plastic flipper for our frying pan!) and explored coffee shops for which there are many! However, I am very excited to head back to Assosa today…hopefully leaving for the airport in about an hour. Our passports are actually still at the work permit office so we’re going to try to travel like locals with our new, shiny local organization ID and a photocopy of our passport and visas. Fingers crossed, toes crossed, eyes crossed! Home to Assosa here we (hopefully) come!!