Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
I was booked onto an evening flight from Heathrow, all very respectable in a time sense and started well by being early to the airport. Terminal 3 was as awash as you might expect at 5 in the afternoon. An obvious step up from flying cheapo via Stansted was the free piles of plastic bags for your toiletries, such generosity.
Onto the plane, which looked a little old – not in a worrying sense, just charmingly 80s retro, with tvs liberally scattered through the roof and so on. This was not going to be a flight with individual entertainment, but given that we were to land around 7am local time, the more sleep the better. The only other distinguishing characteristic was the smell. Feet. I seemed to be quite the rebel in keeping my shoes on for most of the flight, but given the pleasure involved in taking them off, rebellion was not necessarily the right choice.
The airport in Addis Ababa was a breeze, and most people-like me, for what it’s worth-seemed to have picked up their visas in advance rather than using the visa-on-the-day queue, and I was through passport control in a few minutes, and waited another 5 or so before picking up my bag. From there, though, it was quite a wait. I’d broken the habit of a lifetime and confirmed when I was arriving, and even had a reply from the hotel owner yesterday. But no car appeared, as I sat in the sun, finished my book and generally wondered why I wasn’t feeling worried. I suspect I was just the right combination of tired and blissed out that nothing could get to me, though the driver with the “Philip Gould” sign became more convinced I was short sighted every time I went for a wander and came back. On the third time he was thrusting the sign towards me, as sole representative of Europe in sight, and I wonder what job I might now be doing had I taken the option of pretending. I’m in negotiations with Gwyneth Paltrow* for my film exploring the possibilities, “Thrusting signs”.
Eventually I made a friend, a hotel driver who phoned the hotel and they came and picked me up. Which took sufficient time that I heard, with no comprehension, most of an Ethiopian radio show about football. At times like these, having a club affiliation is enough of an ice breaker that, reader, the words “Tottenham Hotspur” left my mouth without any sign of their friends “lapsed” or “barely know the players”.
The place itself is beautiful. Green garden, with a dirt track of about a km to run around. There’s a gym, bar and restaurant and that’s about it – I think the life here is eat, sleep, run, in whatever combination you like. I added in read, of course, for my afternoon, and managed a run. This is a kind of important thing, and I’m not really sure how I’m going at the mo. Obviously the altitude is meant to be difficult, but after a bug/side effects of vaccinations, I was finding running at home tough, too. We’ll see how it goes, and fingers crossed. Tonight’s stat: 37:37, 6.98km. All that remains is dinner and the book. Should I hide the fact that I’m reading “Running with the Kenyans”?
* I am not in negotiation with anyone.