At 4:00am the storm-trooper-trolley-dollies turned all on the lights, marched down the aisle smashing down the tray tables and snapping ‘breakfast time’ in several languages. I have been woken up in more pleasant ways. Out the window I could just make out the Nile in the dark. We were getting close to Cairo. At 5:20 we landed and half an hour later we were waiting for our luggage. The 737 from Dar to Cairo was full of people going on the Haj or to other places further east. (I noticed a couple of guys with Halliburton backpacks on their way to Bagdad. According to the writing on the backpacks, Halliburton was winner of the 2011 quality service provider award. I guess waterboarding is a recognised service these days. At least they were probably not bothered by the 4am wakeup. Used to it – or inflicting it.) Since most people on the plane were connecting to other flights there were only five or six of us waiting to collect bags. It still took an hour. But everything arrived intact.
After we had checked into the hotel I went and found a taxi to start the process of getting my Ethiopian and Sudanese visas. It took about an hour and half to find the Ethiopian Embassy. They had moved to a new building. And it took a while to find somebody who knew where the new place was. But we finally find it and the process was very easy and civilized. I filled in a form, attached a photo the TdA letter and $30 and handed it to a guy sitting behind a big desk. He asked a few questions and told me to come back at 2pm. I did and now have the visa. The Sudanese visa looks like it will be a bit more of a scramble. I went to the Sudanese embassy in Garden City, a bizarre place that look s like the side entrance to city prison. There is a small, glassless window about 18 inches square with three 1-½ inch diameter stainless steel bars crossing it. You had to attract the attention of and then talk to somebody through this. Turns out the Garden City Embassy is closing and no longer in business. I eventually found out that the new embassy will open for business on January 2 in al Dokki. OK. We wait.
By now it was mid afternoon. After a short nap we went to the north end of Zamalek to a café called Maison Thomas, est. 1922 for dinner. Good pizza, no beer. A real bit of French Riviera circa 1935. Lovely architecture, ambiance and food. Then home for a good long sleep.
It’s a great season to think of others.
So please think of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania this Christmas.