16.Thanks to Addis Ababa and next heading to the sacred site, Lalibela!
The road was closed. We could not get to the airport on time!!!
Early in the morning, those who stayed at Melody Hotel and those who stayed at Sidama Lodge went to the airport separately.
The group from Sidama Lodge left their hotel at around 6:10. They got a bus or a taxi and headed to the Addis Ababa airport which has cleaner air.
Since Sidama Lodge was closer to the airport, they were expected to get there soon, but they were stuck in a huge traffic jam right by the airport.
They were wondering what was going on and found out that the road was blocked by the military for the President to pass.
We had only 40 minutes before our check-in. We wouldn’t make it if this kept up.
If we were late, our choosing a hotel in the vicinity of the airport would have been for nothing!
Daniel said with a loud voice, "The military is blocking the road! Let’s get out and walk. Get all your luggage."
It was still quite a distance to the airport
I was thinking, he’s saying ”The army is blocking the road", but there is still quite a ways to the airport. Considering the amount of luggage we had, we would not be able to carry all on foot.
Our efforts would be wasted if we didn’t get there on time.
If we missed that flight, we would not be able to fly to Lalibela that day.
We had no choice, and we started unloading our luggage.
The car behind us decided to stop waiting in this traffic jam and drove recklessly into the oncoming traffic lane.
Following that car, other cars, one after another followed its lead.
We also followed along and stared driving to the airport.
The international airport’s building looked stately, but the parking lot was not paved.
It was like a dusty vacant lot.
When we arrived at the airport ground, we were dropped off at a place that was still far from the entrance.
We ran with our luggage in the dust.
From that point, our check-in madness started.
The security gate was so crowded.
Not to mention our belts and hats, but our shoes also had to be taken off. It was like a security gate at an international airport in the United States right after a terrorist attack.
Finally we got through the security gate, there were less than 30 minutes before our check-in.
There was a long line to check in.
I thought we would not make it. While we were stewing over this, we saw the Music Director of the National Theater, Mr. Wesson, waiting in line behind us.
He was the quite man sitting on the far right of the table at the press conference.
As for me, I hardly had a chance to talk with him. I had the impression of him that he was always cranky, but his demeanor was different then.
I heard that Mr. Wesson was also going to Lalibela.
“Oh, that’s an interesting coincidence” I said to Daniel our tour coordinator.
He replied causally, “He’s going to Lalibela for HEAVENESE.”
"Huh? Are you serious?” I said.
I thought Daniel should have told us in advance that a significant person from the National Theater was going to Lalibela for us. As I found out at that time for the first time, because our event was hosted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, a local national dance team would also be performing in Lalibela for which Mr. Wesson would be a supervisor.
"Because I have a close relationship with Lalibela's boss, if something happens, I can deal with it” said Daniel.
Indeed, Daniel had prepared well for the event, which I didn’t know.
A series of events like this happened all the time there.
The information we had was often incorrect, and things suddenly unfolded in a different way.
After our check-in, as we were heading over to the boarding gate, once again we had to go through security. It was so strict that once again, we had to take off our shoes. Even in the United States, there is no double security check. I was surprised at the strictness of their domestic security.
During the tribal conflicts which resulted in a number of deaths, the government arrested 26,000 people in a month. Ethiopia is a democratic state, yet the government can also act like an aristocratic government and implement security measures like this. Considering the state of the nation, their strict security measures made sense.
From the boarding gate we got on a bus which took us to a small propeller driven aircraft.
Upon boarding safely, the members of the Sidama Lodge group sighed deeply saying,
“We made it. We can fly to Lalibela.”
Most of our equipment had to be transported by truck.
It was said that it would take 24 hours.
I was wondering if it would show up ok.
In just an hour flight, we would finally arrive at the sacred site, Lalibela.
What kind of place would it be?
Would the people welcome us?
With our expectations and anxiety on board, the small aircraft was taking us to our destination amidst the lonesome sound of the propeller engines buzzing outside.
Thank you Addis Ababa for everything.