I admit it. I broke.

After 10 days in Ethiopia I reached the point where I had enough. Sad but true. This has never happened during any of my travels before and i have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what made me finally break.

This is the story of what happened.

I woke up after a few hours sleep a bit tired as I wanted to get the laundry in time so I could pack before departure to the airport. I packed what i could first and had a shower and headed up to the reception. Of course the manager was not at the reception but he had promised me the clothes at 06:30 and I was early. I was told by the other staff that he just left and should be back in 10-15 minutes. After have waited 30 minutes the clock had reached 06:50 and I once again asked where the manager was as I still didn’t have my clothes and I had to leave for the airport, he will be here in 10-15 minutes was the answer and I questioned that as that was what they said 10-15 minutes ago.

I walked to my hotel room and as I reached it, the manager came running with my clothes in his hand excusing that it was delayed. I had 10 min to pack and I managed to pack everything in 11 minutes. Out of the room and heading with fast steps up to the reception. I should have known. It was the hotel themselves who was organizing the transport to the airport and of course the driver was late. I just sat down and waited for 15 minutes before they found a driver and had decided what car to use. It was a minibus. So I packed myself in with my two bags that now had start to wheight a bit since I had packed them with additional kilos of coffee and spices. The driver didn’t seem to care too much about me going to the airport as he on the was stopped and picked up some friends, they appeared to be, meaning he stopped and waited for some minutes by the roadside and as I was about to ask him why the door opened and a guy jumped in. The drive continued.

When we reached the airport and I have had my passport checked, in Ethiopia they always have a roadblock at the entrance of the airport and all Faranjis have to show their passport for some reason but the locals don’t need to provide any identification, the guy just stopped a bit from the airport and said “-From here you walk”. OK.. So I strapped up and headed towards what seemed to be an entrance as they were apparently rebuilding and making the place bigger, however it seemed that the building had been standing still for a while. Yet again you have to show your passport and also your plane ticket to a security person before you can enter the terminal, where does these security measures come from?, the woman asked for my ticket and as I don’t have any, all is electronically these days, I said that I only had the receipt for the ticket.

“- Plane ticket”, she asked again and i repeated what I just had told her. She looked at me and then at the passport and gave her ok and I passed, I could easily have tackled her. Then as you enter you must have your luggage scanned and take off shoes, belt, money and everything else, the regular procedure at an airport. But, and here is the but, why oh why do they have that check twice within a distance of 50 meters? I check in, hand in my luggage, get my ticket and then have to go through the scan and take off everything again. As I came out on the other side the guy wanted to check my bag and I showed him my computer, “-Turn on” he demanded and I did and he was satisfied. Then he took my camera and gave me and looked at me, I looked at him and this stand-off went on for maybe 2-3 seconds before his face soured and he pushed on the camera. Now me being tired and having all these things in the morning, his movement made me sour up and I asked him “-What do you want?”, staring at him, “-Turn on” was his reply which I did and showed him that I turned it on. He was not happy and started gesticulate and I asked “-What?”. He answered “-Show picture” pointing at the screen and I replied “-Why don’t you say that from the beginning” with a sour tone as i showed him a picture and he went back to his screen looking at baggage. I packed everything in my bag again and sat down.

The flight to Addis when smooth without any problems and I asked in the arrival hall if i could exchange money and the answer was “-We dont sell, only buy”. I asked if they knew where I could buy and they pointed me to the international terminal. I had a 6 hour window before the next flight to Djibouti and I would like to solve the dollar issue at the airport if possible to avoid having to go into town. Picked up my bags and went off to the international terminal. To enter I had to, once again, pass through the scanner and take off all my things to get into the terminal. I found the little room that was the exchange office and it was empty even though the times said it was open. I waited for maybe 10 minutes before a man walked around the corner excusing me having to wait and he blamed on the fact that they had been cleaning the office. I told him my business and that I wanted to buy 80 US dollars from him, he was puzzled and would check if he had any dollars or that much. He had dollars and started counting, he had 79 and not 80. I decided that I just wanted 70 then as I didn’t want to deal with one dollar notes and just have big values on the notes. He started trying to get me to buy the 79 dollars he had and I once again said “-No, its fine, i just want 70 USD” and this I had to repeat some three times before he realized that I only wanted to buy 70 USD and not everything he had. He turned on a sour face and said, “- Ok, give me your passport and boarding card” I explained him the situation that I hadn’t boarded yet as i had to do that in the other terminal because for some reason Djibouti is not considered to be international flight but left from the domestic terminal. “-He repeated his demand, passport and boarding card” as well as he pointed out when he saw my roll of money,  that it was only allowed to bring out 200 birr from the country. So I could as well buy the 79 USD from him he had. I had enough of his behaviour and told him that i would bring my business elsewhere.

Now I was pretty pissed after all that this beautiful day had brought me and I knew that now there would be some hassling with taxi drivers to get a fair price to the Sheraton Hotel so I could exchange money. I walked to the taxi guys with a set price of 60 birr in my head as it seemed reasonable to me. Didnt take long before a guy asked me “Taxi?” I told him my destination and they always reply “- No problem, come with me” when I asked for the price he replied “-Only 250 birr”. I laughed and said that I will not pay Faranji price, he seemed as he was shocked and said it was not Faranji price. I walked on and another man approached me “- I take you, best price” I replied to him that I will not pay Faranji price and he replied “-Dont worry, no Faranji price 200 birr”. Now this really started to piss me off, an accelerator you can say, to my pissed off attitude towards the Ethiopians. I walked on and another guy approached me again, I asked for the price and he gave me a Faranji price, I had it, i told him to fuck off and decided that I would walk to the closest minibus stand and take a bus into the city instead.

The driver walked after me asking me “- How much you pay Mr?” I told him to fuck off again and kept on walking and I heard him shout after me “-Ok, 100 birr Mr”. I kept on walking truly pissed and the guy now followed after me in his taxi shouting at me “- Hey Mr, only 120 birr” he had now raised the price as he thought I hadn’t heard his bid on 100 earlier. I kept on walking the 3 kilometers to the Bole area where I had taken the minibus before when I was in Addis. Suddenly I was surrounded by beggars, kids asking for money, people wanted to sell me maps and taxi drivers who had stopped and wanted me to go with them, I told them all to just fuck off and let me be alone. One empty minibus stopped and I jumped in, the ticket seller asked me where I was going and i said Arat Kilo, Sheraton and he shook his head, the bus stopped and I jumped out, even though he previously had said he was going there. Another minibus stopped a few minutes after I made sure he was going to Arat Kilo or Sheraton and he said yes. The driver looked at me and started to talk to me in Amharic and i had no idea what he was saying and after a few meters of driving he said 80 birr. I got out of the bus. The third bus that stopped asked me where I was going and I said Sheraton and the reply was “Ok, 100 birr”, I just gave them the finger and they laughed.

After some 15 minutes i finally got a space in a “real” minibus, I paid 10 birr, about 5 birr too much but I didn’t care and went off to the hotel. I jumped off and walked into the hotel, after passing the regular security check with scan and taking things off, and at the exchange office I proclaimed by business and was told that they don’t sell dollars there. I questioned the fact that they had a buying rate on their display and they said it is only that they pay you back if you sell. I didn’t get the argument and asked if the person knew where I could buy dollars. She replied that I should try at the Sheraton. I was puzzled. I was at the Sheraton. And I had to ask and she replied “-No, this is the Hilton” making a few flares being lit up in my head. This is why the taxi driver looked so confused when i asked him to stop outside. I walked out of the hotel and the few kilometers to the Sheraton where I finally could exchange into USD after a small questioning why I wanted USD and where I was going it later turned out that they even stamped my passport with this information.

Done with the mission of the day I started walking towards the central square to take a taxi back to the airport as I now really didn’t care and decided that I would pay 70 birr as I had that in clear bills on me. If you agree on a price and then for example only have higher notes than the agreed price, then you can for sure guarantee that the driver at the end of the journey don’t have any “change” at all to break your note. Happened before and will happen again so i only make sure to offer a price where I have the amount in correct value not to have this situation, and this applies to almost everywhere in the world where you have to negotiate the price, even in Czech Republic where I live this happens. As I passed the square an older man approached me if I wanted a taxi and I asked him how much he wanted to the airport, he told me 100 birr, I replied 70 birr, he countered with 80 birr and I once again repeated 70 birr. He said “-ok, 70 birr but you pay the 5 birr to enter the airport parking” and i replied that he could drop me before. Finally, a guy which didn’t try to rip me off my blood. It restored my faith a little.

The entrance of the airport terminal was the same, scan and take off everything, i got my flight ticket and I asked the immigration how i would do when i got back as i now had to stamp out of the country as i was leaving but I would return and stay 12 hours at the airport before i was heading out of Africa for this year. They said that it shouldnt be any problem and that i would have to buy a new visa just to pass to the international terminal, they are not connected and you need to walk between them on the outside. Lets see what happens when I return.

As we boarded the flight I had noticed that there were some Chinese people in the queue before me and of course one of them, a woman with a big ass took up the whole aisle. Usually i am a very patient person but when she had put her bag up in the compartment, then decided to take it down again, placing it on her seat and started poking around in it while blocking the aisle with her ass minding nothing but her own business as she was the only person in the world, I had enough after 5 seconds and cleared my throat loudly as I usually do when I want attention. Some of the persons who knows me also knows what I mean. My loud noise made her ass move quickly into the seat row as she looked scared backwards to see what wild animal had made that sound, and I said “-Thank you” as I passed the woman to the sound of the laughing passengers already sitting down who had witnessed the whole situation and my actions. My seat was next to a Mr Robert, I read that from his boarding card in his hand when I tried to figure out where he was going. Mr Robert was a big guy, from his looks and name I would guess he was Nigerian, and as he sat in his seat I felt a little bit like a squashed mango, just what I needed this day, two big guys sitting next to each other all the way to Djibouti.

I asked the flight attendant if I could change seat because this would not work for 2 hours sitting like this. Mr Robert was laughing and understood my point and told me something I didn’t understand, I asked him to repeat it and i understood it nearly due to his very thick accent, like porridge, that people would be getting off in Dire Dawa and there would be seat available then. And true, as the landscape changed from plateau to more of a desert climate with rounded hills polished by winds ,and deep winding cuts into the landscape after rivers that had dried out and now formed a walk path for different type of animals. The dramatic mountain shapes that I had seen in the north now more looked like the icicles formed by frost on the window on an early winter morning.

After we had landed and most people had gotten off, Mr Roberts moved to a different seat and we took off for the last hours flight to Djibouti. I was now feeling a bit better and tried to wind down hoping things would be better in Djibouti.

  1. Sascha says:

    very amusing but they could learn a lesson from the security at the mazar-e-sharif airport where somebody unpacks your whole bag every 50m, 3 times in total before you even get to the scanner 😀

  2. Žarko says:

    Changing money from Birrs to Euros…
    I went to Sheraton, night before my departure and asked to change ~200€ in Birrs for €uros.
    They asked for my flight ticket and passport.
    As I told them that I don’t have paper ticket since they’re all electronic tickets, he said NO! I told him again that I have it in my email and argued with him.
    I even told him that I can show him the email in my iPhone. He refused again.
    After I started shouting that I want to talk with his manager, even making serious jokes that I now few Government people, he seemed scared, saying that it is because of the law. I repeated that I know the law and the law guys in Ethiopia and after that he asked me if I can print out my flight ticket and come back again.
    Going to the 1st floor in Sheraton, there’s a PC / Business room where I printed 5 papers which they charged ~5€.
    Went downstairs and after passport check and scan, signing couple of documents – this all reminded me like I was applying for some visa/residence permit – they changed Birrs and gave me back ~200€.
    You should’ve asked me, since I told you that I have so many Birrs, but I know you were outside of Addis Ababa! 🙂

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