To my always-inspiring, ever loyal readers –
I’m sorry! It has been almost two weeks since I took off for the dark continent, and I have only managed to crank out one ‘real’ update for you all. Here’s number two, and I’ll stick with the bullet point form as an extension of the last post. Enjoy.
- Remember how I said that the hotel was “more than adequate” ? Can I take that back? Cockroaches and mosquitoes in room, no hot water, and a less-than-helpful business center. Without any notification, the price of an iced latte doubled overnight, and the server couldn’t understand why I refused to pay the original menu price. Sure, my job is making me somewhat of a hotel-snob, but a man has to have standards, yea? No complaints about the happy hour.
- I found a way to stimulate the job market in America – remove all supermarket prices, then hire employees whose job description requires them to memorize all said prices. If it works in Africa, I’m sure it could work in America. Anyone with me?
- At a relatively large traffic intersection, I saw a patrol officer breakdancing in the middle of the road, happily waving cars to and fro, popping and locking and gesticulating in ways foreign to my own body. My camera was not quick enough to capture the moment. Next time, I guess.
- If you asked me a few years ago what I imagined myself doing after college, I never thought I would be pricing a Lebanese-run supermarket in Abuja, Nigeria, the electricity cutting out sporadically every hour or so, Abba playing softly in the background. After 3+ hours of walking around, aisle to aisle, I took a deep breath and pondered how wild my situation was.
- The last night, my colleague Joe and I went out with two Nigerians to watch football (soccer) highlights. Over a traditional meal of pounded, curried yam, African rice, and an unidentifiable mixture of meat (bush meat?!?!), I listened intently while my company discussed such things as politics, religion, and education – hearty topics for a casual night out. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion, and tried to represent American opinions as best as I could.
- Joe (again, my colleague,) summarizes Abuja quite nicely. “Alan, it’s kind of like that Nigerian meal we ate earlier – exotic, fun to push through, but I probably wouldn’t order it again.”
- At the airport the following morning, I bought a book called, “How to Be a Nigerian.” Be on the lookout for quotes.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- What a name for a city!
- By the time we got to the hotel, it was 10:30pm and we had made friends with a fellow transit-traveler. He worked for the state department and traveled a few times a year to record video footage of U.S. Embassy and Consulate construction sites around the world. We had a lot to discuss. He showed me his diplomatic passport. I thought it was cool.
- Because we had to leave early the next morning (and we also did not know where to go/what to do), we snuck a quick bite to eat at the bar and found ourselves too exhausted to get out for a late night in the city. Typing this out now, I quasi-regret that decision, but in the heat of the moment, I made the right call to get a good night’s sleep.
- At the hotel, several delegates and bigwigs in African-related politics were moving about. We learned that the hullabaloo was for an African Union meeting. At the bar, a drunk creep-show told us he worked for the CIA and collected information on people and has been to places “you can’t find on a map.” I laughed. I also locked my door and shut my window before going to bed. Something about that guy didn’t feel right. Mom, I’ll try harder to stay away from the weird ones.
- Before reading further, please heed this message: there is more to Rwanda than the 1994 genocide, and I am making it my duty to bask in all that the country has to offer.
- It’s gorgeous here. Exotic birds parading around the pool, afternoon showers that leave all foliage glistening the following morning, hills and hills for miles.
- Hotel is nice – staff is friendly, but similar to Abuja, the service industry here is laughable at best. Trying to adjust, but I’m finding that the Type-A personality in me is manifesting more and and more. Calm down, Alan.
- French is very useful here – mine is rusty, but it is returning quicker than expected. (for M. Chazin – le singe est sur la table!)
- Work pending, I plan on doing the following things: 1) getting outside the city to see some wildlife and go on a day hike 2) eat at the Hotel Rwanda (called the Milles Collines – or 1000 Hills), you know, from the movie and 3) visit the genocide memorial.
As always, pictures are ‘on the way’. I’ll get them posted when I’m not struggling to keep my eyes open. I hope all is well wherever this message finds you. Feel free to shoot me an email [the9to5alternative(at)gmail(dot)com] – I’ll do my best to respond. Shoutout to all readers in Nashville, St. Louis, and Boston. High fives all around.