Saturday, December 20, 2008

We Have Arrived in Ethiopia...now we sleep

We arrived in Ethiopia around 8:30 am today. Our flight was a little late coming in, but we made it! It was also very interesting….more about that later….

 

We ended up not being able to rent a room in Dubai Airport, because it took us quite a while to get through customs, claim our baggage, etc. Then, it took us even longer to figure out exactly where our gate for our Ethiopian Air flight would be. The terminals in Dubai are not connected, so you have to go outside the airport to get to some of the other terminals. Once we found the gate, we realized we couldn't check in until around 1:00 am, so we had some time to kill. We went upstairs and sat in the food court, tried to sleep, etc. Finally it was time for us to check in for our flight to Ethiopia…..now that was an experience. First of all, it was a huge guess as to which side of the giant room (where the gates for Ethiopian air were) you needed to be on, because they wouldn't put the ET air emblem up on the screen. When they finally did put it on the screen, it was like a mass exodus of people with little airport carts…they were everywhere!! They will run over you, trust me!! They didn't care if they bumped you….there was luggage going everywhere….crazy! So, we get in line, then all of a sudden, the screen goes blank and everyone and all those little airport carts make a mass exodus for the other side of the room, because they changed the location!  I should also mention that there are no lane or aisle markers…you make your own! These factors, combined with the fact that we were the only white people in this whole part of the airport made our checking in experience very interesting. We ended up being close to the front of the line whey they finally decided exactly where they were going to let us check in. Many people tried to cut in front of us, and we ended up letting this one guy- he was persistent. This upset a lady across from us in line, and this lady and this guy ended up getting into a major argument! It was interesting. She was upset with him for cutting line, to say the least.

 

Once we finally made it past this part of the process, we were able to go into the main concourse of the airport. It was really beautiful! Very elaborately decorated and very modern. One thing that was really funny was that instead of sitting in the chairs while waiting for your plane to board, almost everyone, even grown men in business suits, were laying in the floor sleeping.

 

I said that our flight to Ethiopia was interesting…..and a little unnerving. Though we have tried to be as unbiased as possible, every now and then we have felt a little uncomfortable on this trip as we have been immersed into a culture that is very unfamiliar to us. While we were sitting in the boarding area, we noticed a group of about 7 older men of Middle Eastern descent, all fully dressed in traditional Muslim apparel. They stuck out about as much as we did among the other African people J. Even though you have to pass through passport control and security before you can enter this part of the airport, we noticed an airport official detained them again as we were boarding the plan. He asked to look through their passports and other documents. They were then allowed to board the plane. They all sat in the front of the plane, and we sat right behind them. About twenty minutes after we were up in the air, a couple of the men got up to use the restroom at the same time. Then when they came back, a couple of the others got up, and they repeated this pattern until they all had been to the bathroom. Zack was asleep while this was going on, but I admit, I was getting a little nervous. Then, a couple of them went to the front of the plane to where the flight attendants hang out. I couldn't see them, but I could see the flight attendants, and they had a confused look on their face. Now my heart started to beat a little faster….what is going on? They came back to their seats after a little bit, and I started to calm down. That is until one of the men, directly across from us, stood up in the front of the airplane and began speaking a prayer very loudly. Now I was sweating and Zack was too……This lasted for about a couple of minutes (very intense minutes) then this man sat back down. One the of flight attendants came over to us and told us the men were  being very "provocative" and that she had tried to ask them to be considerate of others, but they refused. We told her it was no problem, please let them do whatever they needed! Then they all got up and went to the front of the plane. We now have figured that the crew had allowed them to go to first class to continue their prayers, as I don't think there was a single person up there. Of course we didn't figure this out until a while later, so at the time, this made us very nervous again. We also realized that this man's prayers came right before sunrise, or agpar in the Muslim faith.

 

Well, obviously, we made it safely to Ethiopia, and looking back our apprehension seems maybe a little silly and maybe prejudiced, but I can tell you, we were truly frightened for a few moments…... It was a good experience for us, as it caused us to think about what the minority cultures in our country must experience quite often. Before we got off the plane, one of the gentlemen actually struck up conversation with Zack- he was very friendly and interested in our American views.

 

Once at the airport in Addis, we made it through customs just fine, and after waiting about an hour or so, our driver came and we arrived here at the Addis View Hotel. It is very nice, and our room is great! It has a seating area, a wet bar, and a very nice bathroom and bedroom. It is now around 7pm here- we slept almost all day! We probably won't do much tonight, just eat dinner, watch a DVD, and sleep some more! We feel good…. I (Rebecca) am a little dizzy (most likely a combination of the flight and the altitude here in Addis). Overall, we are doing great! The Ethiopian people are so very hospitable and kind.

 

Tomorrow we will meet the other families and go to church, and maybe shopping. As Zack just said, "We want to go get Caleb!" but that will have to wait until Monday….

Referral Received 7/29/08!!
Traveling to Ethiopia December 18-28
www.faceoflove.blogspot.com




4 comments:

Kari:) said...

Caldwells, I feel like I'm sitting on the wild flight to Dubai with you:) The airport alone is an experience of a life time!! It was the craziest flight of my life!! Its amazing watching people pray to a god that doesn't exist. It made my heart so sad to watch them doing it over & over. I wanted to share God's love & freedom!! We are ecstatic that you made it to Addis.
You are going to have fun everyday!! Give Robel a big hug from us...do a ton of shopping.
We love you & praying!!!!
Give Mr. Happy a big kiss from YG

alisafmartin@yahoo.com said...

yeah- you made it!! What a wonderful storyteller you are--can't wait to hear more!!
Prayerfully,
Alisa

Dietrich & Amy Lusse said...

You guys! We are so excited for you! Can't wait to see your boy in your arms!!
Stalking till you do...
Amy & Dietrich

Jori said...

So happy you made it safe and sound! As I am checking this you should have already spent the afternoon with Caleb so - cloud 9! :):):)
love, jori