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October 29, 2014 / catherinebwrites


Frankfurt Airport


I set off on August 22 nd.    First stop Frankfurt.   They couldn’t send my luggage straight through so  I had to check out  through customs and passport control, change terminals  and check-in again.    My luggage took forever to arrive and I had to juggle  a large suitcase full of hearing-aid batteries and a carry-on case, also full of batteries through Frankfurt’s ultra- modern, ultra-shiny and ultra busy airport.   Both my cases were at the  very edge of the legal weight limit… so heavy.  When I encountered  an automatic passport control machine, I was hot , I was sweaty and I had no idea what to do.   I did what I thought I saw other people do  but  clearly I did it wrong.  The queue behind me was getting restive.  A man said something tetchy in German but my German is limited to “Nein”  “Ya” and “Bitte”.    He snatched my passport out of my hand and did the needful saying something that I interpreted to mean

“Idiot, fool, cretinous foreigner.”  

But I didn’t care, I was through and hot-footing it to inter-terminal railway which was much further away than you could possibly expect.   At last I landed at the check-in desk for Ethopia Air .

“You are the very last person for this flight.”  the woman behind the desk said, “If you run you will make it on time.

I ran.

Addis Abbana airport hasn’t the gleaming modernity of Frankfurt.   The shops are more village High St than High End. But it does have the most exotic passengers you’ve ever seen.   It’s a crossroads between the Arab and  African worlds. 



There are West Afrtican men in colourful robes and little round embroidered hats.   Women fantastic turban-like head cloths and flowing robes in a riot of colours and patterns.   Africans can wear the most unlikely combinations of colour and patterns and look cool-as- all-get-out. There are women in Indian saris in sherbert colours, African muslim women in hijabs of orange and purple and gold.   Middle Eastern men in white roes and neat turbans.  and my favourite, a young man in an immaculate business suit with an chrome yellow shirt and a necklace of golf-ball-sized beads in purple, red, orange, green and blue.

Boarding the plane was a hint chaotic.   Nobody checked my ticket, nor remarked on the bottle of water  I was carrying and it wasn#t clear which of the severa; planes on the tarmac I should head for.  

“Is this for Lusaka?”   I had to ask when I got o board, ’cause I wasn’t too sure.

Soon  an announcement informed us  that if we were  hoping to fly to Nairobi we were on the wrong plane!   A good dozen or so people rose from their seats, collected their bits and pieces and shuffled to the doors .   But at last we were settled and off.    

I arrived at midday on Sat 23rd.   Alfred met me at the airport and brought me to my hotel.  We arranged to meet on Monday morning.




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