Back in My Beloved Africa

When I left Africa last May I was sure I would come back some day but had no idea when that day would be… For sure I didn’t have a slightest premonition it would be this soon!

When Lou from Aiki Extensions approached me asking if I would be willing to go back for two weeks teaching Aikido at the Awassa Youth Center I didn’t think twice! Or maybe I thought as long as it took me to convince my boss that I needed to take leave from work and go… (Thank you Mari, if you are reading this! But you already know how I feel…:-)

So on a cold and dark January evening I took a plane from Helsinki to Frankfurt and from there to Addis Ababa. The African adventure started already at my arrival to Addis airport, where the customs realized through screening my suitcase that I was carrying ten used, old model (no touch screen, but a keyboard and a small screen) Nokia smart phones which were contributed by my collagues in Finland to be donated in Awassa. The customs officer’s first bid for taxing the phones was a little over 30 000 Birr which amounts to about 1150 euros! I told them I could buy ten brand new pieces of this same model with a lower amount… After long and tedious negotiations I left the airport with six phones, having paid 4500 Birr (170 €) as tax and having abandoned four of the phones (probably to be sold on the black market by corrupt customs officers)…

After having spent most of the morning at the airport it was time to take my bus from Addis to Awassa – it’s about 300 km’s and 5 hours’ ride. As it happened, on that very same day it was Mohammed’s birthday, so a holiday and because of that I had to visit about ten ATM’s before finding one that had cash in it. After this ordeal I found out that the bus to Awassa was canceled for the day… Not wanting to stay in Addis any extra days I took my chances in a minibus. As I’ve decribed before in this blog, before take off the minibus circles around certain premises to collect enough passengers to fill the whole bus to make enough profit for the entrepreneur. This time it took two hours with a lot of driving around and hollering out from the sliding door of the vehicle calling for prospective passengers. After we were finally on our way, the driver bought a bunch of chat on the way and kept chewing it the whole journey along with talking constantly on his cell phone, scribbling phone numbers in his notebook to arrange his next day’s journey and arguing loudly with his passengers (turning towards the back seats every time…) about the insuffciency of the compensation he was getting out of this trip… I’m telling you; if there would have been anywhere for me to go – only the hot road and desert around us – I would have stepped out of the mad man’s vehicle and waited for the next day and a proper bus…

But as I wrote to my sister when I had finally reached my hotel in Awassa late that night, I must really love this place to be always ready to suffer all the inconveniences just to get here…:-)


Waiting at the mini bus area in Addis…


According to Ethiopian calendar Christmas was just last week so all the Christmas decorations are still on their place.


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