Need help with my checklist

February 20, 2009 at 6:39 am 27 comments

Yes, I got the visa. [Thank you, Thank you ;)]. Planning to depart by the end of March, Insh Allah. And hoping you guys would give me a pointer as to what an abesha needs to make the transition easier.

Here is as far as I got:

checklist1

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Entry filed under: Latest Posts.

Is he losing it? Sile Ewnet kaweran zenda..

27 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mazzi  |  February 20, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Yay Abesheet!! Congratulations to you (and the silent blog reader) for being granted the visa. That is awesome. Watch out San Diego, Abesheet is coming!

    I am sure you are thinking long and hard what to bring with you without bringing excess. I bet you are going to get all kinds of suggestions as to what to bring with you from your blog readers and friends and family already abroad. In the end, you make the final choices of course, but here is my bias contribution to your list….. 🙂

    1. Gabbis!!! Few of them! Both thick ones and neTela Gabbis. One for you, one for Chris, the rest ‘yegarra’ to share :-). There is nothing that makes me feel secure (when nostalgia for all that is home that is Addis kicks in) than wrapping myself with a Gabbi I brought from home with me or my mother brought for me when she visited. Even warm San Diego is bound to have cold mornings sometimes, and what better to snuggle with than Gabbi besides the silent blog reader himself ;-).
    2. Few light neTela’s as well with favorite Tilets for the occasional visits and masses you might attend at a local Ethiopian church, or for days you just want to adorn yourself with neTela for an unusual fashion statement. San Diego is a large city. It is bound to have a sizable Ethiopian community and a couple of Ethiopian churches. Even if attending church is not your thing, trust me occasionally you might find yourself wanting to go to a local Eth. church, especially on major Ethiopian religious holidays just to absorb ‘home’ atmospheres ‘be-San Diego.’
    3. Two nicely tailored and modern (read sexy ;-)) cut Abesha-libs, ones that fit you well and make you feel pretty special for days you want to stand out in crowds on purpose, especially non-abesha crowds. Don’t bring many, no matter how many you get in gifts from friends and relatives back home….you won’t wear them as often you think you would, and they will just age still stored in the original luggage you brought them in! While you are at it, bring few personal distinctly Abesha jewelry (worQ or Birr). Even when you wear them with Western outfits at events, they are bound to be unique, much better than ‘yeferenj worQ’ they sell here.
    4. Those ‘Ethiopian made’ leather open-toe beautifully hand crafted Abesha-neTela-Chamas you can wear with Abesha-libs, or even jeans and T-shirts on regular days. They probably will not last long (they never make them durable), and might not even be super comfortable. But by God they are cute, and you will enjoy wearing them in warm climate till they wear out.
    5. Few bags of Teff injera dirkosh! For a while, you will miss Teff injera terribly till you start getting used to locally sold ‘Americanized mostly wheat based injera.’ You can make this transition easier on yourself if you have a stash of Teff injera dirkosh by occasionally making dirkosh firrfirr for you and the silent blog reader, maybe on weekend mornings :-). You might also need to bring a bit of berrbere not to mention kick-ass miTin shiro for the occasional shiro craving. And trust me, you will have these shiro cravings ;-). (Sorry Sistu!)
    6. Copies of pictures from your younger days, and family pictures past and present. I know how precious family pictures are back home, and not enough to go round for everyone who wants them! So if making decent copies of the pictures is not an option or too expensive, then scan some of your favorite old and not so old pictures into digital files stored on CD or flash-drives, and then print them when you get here for your album.
    7. For nostalgia case, and for the occasional reminders of where you came from, bring with you favorite old letters, cards, journals, and any school year books you might miss if you left them behind.
    8. Original copies (properly authenticated and translated if necessary) of official transcripts issued by your high school and university listing classes taken and any official high school leaving certificate and university degree(s) awarded. If ever a school or job application on this side needs them, they might still require transcripts to be sent directly from the schools, but you will at least have original copies on hand to show them in the mean time. Of course that goes the same for birth-certificates, and vaccination sheets and such that you already listed.
    9. Maybe official general letters of recommendation(s) for employment (on official company letter heads) from your superiors at the office who can write you great letters about your skills and attributes and can list their contact information for further reference. Potential employers on this side might not even bother with ‘foreign’ recommendations, but they might come in handy. Usually they would want references from jobs held in the US, but the job situation right now being absolutely nightmarish, every little bit might help!
    10. Definitely as you already listed lots and lots of CD’s!

    (OK I will stop with ten. It sounds like a round enough number :-)).

    As for a driver’s license, most states in the US find it difficult to transfer foreign issued driver’s license into local ones easily. So you probably might be better of with Chris giving you driving lessons on local roads and highways once you get here and just take the local driving test and get a local driver’s license. It is really not that complicated as much as it might be at home. But if you can, it might not hurt to take driving lessons even back home if you don’t already drive. At least you will be at ease with driving, and if you can handle the crazy, lawless driving on Addis roads back home with a stick-shift car, learning city driving on this side most likely with an automatic car where for the most part people follow traffic laws would be a breeze barring of course complicated highway driving that might take time to get used to.

    I am sure I am not telling you anything new in this comment that you have not already thought about, or heard from Chris. But I just could not resist making my own list for you :-). It will be fun to also read what other advises you might get from other readers.

    Have fun shopping, packing, and preparing for your trip Abesheet, and I wish you and the silent blog reader all the best!!

  • 2. Mazzi  |  February 20, 2009 at 9:29 am

    P.S. Along with the bags of Teff injera dirkosh, I meant to also list bag(s) of Qollo (mix of roasted sinde, gebs, shimbira, suuff, peanuts etc..) as well!!! You have no idea how precious Qollo brought from Ethiopia is on this side. I personally find it to be a very tasty and healthy snack for munching inbetween meals and when nostalgia kicks in. I am salivating now just thinking about Qollo, and it does not help that I am already hungry right now tooooo early in the morning my time.

  • 3. abesheet  |  February 20, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Mazziye:
    Yene bathogni yiQochegn neber :). This is exactly what i was looking for. An expert opinion on why, for example, you shouldn’t buy more than two yabesha libses however small a number it seems. I’d compensate with Ethiopian Reflection t-shirts, yeah? They never fail 🙂

    Regarding the driving license:
    I never imagined i’d own a car in this lifetime so i didn’t think it would be necessary. [Didn’t have a passport issued, if you must know, until two days after Chris left. Not sure if it’s cowardice or plain “chelemtegninet”]. But Enat, one of my cousins, has and she was telling me how next to impossible it is to finish the process in less than 2 months, with driving to Qaliti every afternoon for your lessons for another down side. So.. it would have to wait till i get there.

    * Not sure about the Netelas, having never worn one. How about i avoid going to church and/or pretend to have hailed from Madagascar to any abesha approaching me?
    * Gabbi, got three of them as a wedding gift, Chris took one, two more remain 😉
    * So glad i could finally ask my mother how soon can she make a “Quanta” ready. Shi Solomon Supermarket ruub kilowun be36 birr eyecherechere asmerirogn neber. To think I once bought the damn thing for 5.99 or something.

    Yeteresa ka’ale, don’t hesitate to mention.

    P.S. Was hoping the [Elsa] Qolo & [Robera] Bunna part would be covered by those who come to fare me well.

  • 4. Mazzi  |  February 20, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Hi Abesheet….

    So you are not a neTela wearing (even occasionally) kind of gal huh? I don’t blame you. Unless you know how to sport them fashionably, it is hard not to come across as one of those stressed Abesha mothers when wearing neTela’s!!! But I say it depends how you wear them. However, you sure don’t have to wear neTela at any Abesha gathering as a rule, per se, but church seems to be the one place where almost all females wear neTela with few exceptions. And I already see you being those few exceptions, and that is actually cool. It goes with your ‘thinking outside the box’ kind of personality ;-).

    In my opinion, you really do not need more than two decent Abesha-libses, but bring as many as the Ethiopian reflection t-shirts as you can! Those types of t-shirts are cool, and even to give as gifts to Chris and some friends who might want souvenirs from the ‘mother land’ :-).

    I personally like those LIGHT LINEN (not heavy cotton, Gabbi textured) shirts with front pockets that have nice ‘Tilff’ on them. They look soooooooooooooo generic back home and not unique by any standard, but the nicely made ones stand out beautifully on this side and are great to wear on warm days with skirts and shorts. I do that often, in addition to a number of brightly colored ‘tie die embroidered linen “Africa” t-shirts’ and long dresses (Dashiki style if you know which type) that my Kenyan friend used to bring me from Nairobi every time she went home for a visit. I love those bright colored tie-die shirts and dresses, and she loved the mostly white or off-white Ethiopian one piece (one size fits all) light ‘fetill’ dressed with Tilff adorning the neck and center of the dress. So it was a nice exchange for sure.

    If taking driving lessons in Addis or getting a license would be a pain to what will already be busy weeks for you, I say just leave that idea alone, and just get your license once you get here. It really is not that complicated here, and I am sure Chris can tell you more about it since he is already on the ground and would know what would be required for a Californian license. So really, don’t even bother. However, if anyone of your friends or family with a car can informally teach you how to just drive and learn to control the car in empty parking lots or deserted roads when the police are not watching, then by all means just get used to what it feels to drive so it won’t all be new to you on this side. Feeling comfortable behind the wheel in a car while still driving was one of the hardest things for me to master when I learned how to drive. Only practice, practice, practice will make it easy over time including highway driving that might be intimidating at first, but a breeze with practice.

    Definitely bring your two Gabbis remaining with you, as in my opinion, you can never have too many Gabbis in your house!! I came to the US many many years ago with my most favorite Gabbi that was personally made for me (from scratch … TiTT tebazto, tefetlo, and finally teshemino by a local shemane) by a lovely woman I loved so dearly who worked for my family for years as a maid and nanny for all of us when we were very young. I still have that Gabbi that remains to be my most favorite though I have accumulated many since then. Now, it serves more like a ‘security blanket’ that I rarely use, but always pack with me when I travel for long.

    As for “Quantta” Abesheet, though it too is one of my most favorite snacks to eat as is or cooked with firrfirr, you might not be able to bring it with you when you travel this side. And I think that is because thanks to Mad Cow Disease that occasionally surfaces in the US beef industry, they are very paranoid about any form of ‘imported’ meet from outside that is not inspected by their own authority even if it is in “Quanta” form and is completely dried and cured. The last time my mother travelled through DC to come to where I am, an American custom officer who was searching her luggage asked her out right if she was carrying “Quantta” and she was shocked that he knew what “Quantta” was!!! He told her, we get a lot of Ethiopians coming through DC airport (thanks to Ethiopian Airlines) they learn all the necessary terms. Luckily, she only had some “yedoro Qullett” in her luggage with “yedoro sigga” frozen in thick, layered, and tightly sealed plastic bags, and the custom officer did not seem to have a problem with importing chicken. But I think beef (in any form) still remains a disputed commodity to bring in international flights, so before your family goes through the trouble of preparing it, make sure you contact maybe Ethiopian Airline people and ask them about what the latest is about taking “Quanta” to the US. They might know better than I do, but just thought I might give you heads up.

    That is all I can think of for now. But feel free to also ask specific question that I, or other Abesha blog readers, can answer… things that Chris has not already advised you with or things that are Abesha specific.

    Good luck with everything dear, and enjoy the few weeks you have left before you travel.

  • 5. Scooby  |  February 20, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    `I don’t know about America,but here in central Europe you need an invisible mask just to survive through the day.Their eyes, bores a hole in you. Oh, before i forgot congradulations,my dear ~_~. I hope you’d continue to inspire and inform us from whereever you go.Although i am not sure it would be as original or informative ans from blogging from addis to those of starving for a news back home.`i know you whereever you are,you would manage to find something different to say about it.

  • 6. Sawel  |  February 20, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Congra sista! I mean it’s not that I considered the US as a heaven… it’s just bc it is the right place for opportunity seekers. I say that you should just bring yourself here. You can find litterally everything in San Diego berbere,qundo berbere, minamin gin it’s not that bad to carry some though.You’re also lucky bc I heard that there is an eth orth church Gabriel there. And have great moments in Addis before coming over. yea one last thing is don’t have huge expections and be ready on the mind stuff… Good luck!

  • 7. abesheet  |  February 20, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you guys, for the advices and votes of confidence.

    Mazzi:
    I heard “yeBeselle neGer” is so detested by the custom people, its punishable by a fine of $1,000 or more these days. [They actually made the announcement on ETV. How bad can it get, right?]. Which is why I’d stay away from anything “esat yenekaaw”, save for the Qolo and Buna, this time around ;). I remember reading in a book, “In her Shoes” i believe it was called, about “that nice Ethiopian restaurant which was full of mice”. By their strictness of late, I wouldn’t be surprised if the DC airport is over-run by rodents suffering from Berbere and Qibat induced “yeCheguwara beshita”.

    Scoob:
    To tell you the truth, my e-Shoe box has been on my mind for some days now, especially as i was unable to discuss anything for the last three days. I can’t promise anything, except that I wouldn’t join an opposition party the minute I land [as I’ve been told everybody does] and start attacking the government without a reason.

    Sawel:
    I hope the following comment doesn’t piss you off, but i don’t see myself as the type who likes fellowshiping with people on the base of their race, ethinic group or religion. Infact, when fellowshipping came through the door, the undersigned was always out the window. Religious wise, the Ethiopian Orthodox church is the least of my favorites. The Catholic church follows, and the Protestant church makes a third. Still, it’s good to know they are there when one needs them. One may!

    When it comes to roughing it, however, I can confidently say I’m more prepared than anybody who ever made this particular journey. When my cousin asked me why I am insisting on having my driving license ready this morning, I told her a girl needs her getting-away skills incase she came across a murderer on a killing spree. Nothing like being “chelemtegna” to keep you out of trouble and away from disappointment.

    Nice weekend all.

  • 8. Girum  |  February 20, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Congratulations Abesheet.

    Had I get a chance to back home for a while, would definitely bring ‘Awaze, Dirkosh’, all notes of birr+cents, CDs, musics, new clips, certified documents and ‘Wukilina’, If there is someone….
    Would also think to effectively use the weeks and enjoy it. Certain things I missed of Ethiopia and would like to have it for the last time: Kitfo at Yehomia (Piassa), Ye yeshi buna kikil, Ye Sheger( Mexico) chikna tibs, ye Belus café cake and a weekend at Debrezeit.
    Esp. ‘Ye Yehomia kitfo Derek yale kocho, with the ‘Gurage Gurage shita’ delicious ‘aybe’ and ‘gomen’. Please ‘hisab bene new, eshi’.

    all the best,

  • 9. Mazzi  |  February 20, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    If bringing “yeBeselle neGer” from abroad through US customs at international airports is now a days punishable by a hefty fine, it is all news to me!

    Sometimes, I do not blame US customs for barring such practices. That is because many first time, inexperienced, careless, or insensitive Ethiopian travelers who don’t know any better or don’t simply care about traveling etiquette bring with them all kinds of poorly or hap hazardously packed, terribly messy (food that is leaking out of its container, think Abesha Wot), and often smelly (think Qibbe, Qocho, Ayib etc..for example) cooked food stuffed in their luggage. And sometimes they end up ruining other people’s luggage in the process!!! Think of the intense heat in the luggage compartment of the plane where such luggages are stored for hours on end, contributing to the leakage and smell of such precious cargos. For experienced travelers, however, most things can be packed well without creating problems if they have the know hows; but if bringing “yeBeselle neGer” is barred now a days, it makes no difference in the end.

    So I guess dry foods it is for you like Qollo and Tirre Abesha Bunna! Don’t forget to bring a bit of good quality iTaan, one suvenir shekla iTaan maCHesha, and maybe even one nice shekla Bunna-Jebbena for nostalgia sake if you know how to make Bunna be-Jebenna (both packed very carefully, with prayers as well so they reach here without breaking). Such precious and fragile items would be for the days when you might want to get your Ajebb on with Bunna and iTaan in your house, Abesha style. I admit yabesha Bunna-Jebenna is a luxury item and not a necessity at all! For other days, regular ‘American’ coffee maker will do just fine for routine morning coffee.

    As one of the commentors above suggested, no doubt you can find all the things we are suggesting for you to bring here in Abesha stores, other “ethnic,” or regular stores in San Diego. However, such items you buy on this end might not be of the same quality as the ones you will bring from home, and they are most likely to cost so much more on this side (for instance, a regular shekla Bunna-Jebenna imported from Ethiopia that used to be 3Birr when I was growing up and probably about 30Birr now a days at a neighborhood Gullit could cost as high as $25.00 or more in some Abesha stores! ;-)). OK, enough about my own Jebenna obsession :-). Tirre Abesha Bunna might also be available for a price in some specialty stores though already roasted or ground ‘Arabica’ or ‘Ethiopian coffee’ might be readily available in regular stores. Can you tell, I am projecting my own wish list on your shopping list … items I wish I brought with me, or wish someone brings for me?! Feel free to ignore anything I suggest. In good time, my dear, you will manage to assess what you can and can not find in your new city all on your own once you get here, God willing.

    Remember that just because you will be travelling to this side of the ocean, you are not going to live “a more Abesha” life style once you arrive than how you have been living all along in Addis. I have seen some new immigrants from various places mistakenly assume the role of cultural ambassadors to their respective cultures, and attempt to live a more authentic cultural life of what ever country they left behind often adhering to cultural and religious norms they did not even adhere before in the old country! It must be exhausting to attempt to live two lives at the same time. Sadly, more often than not, they end up not assimilating fast enough in their new home and causing all kinds of problems to themselves and second generations.

    You on the other hand, I think will blend in immediately the minute you set foot in this country. I have no doubt about that, and that will make your transition much much easier. I am certain that not much is going to change about your day to day life except of course you will be in a new place and new environment, and living a married life with the silent blog reader … this time on his turf :-).

    Just like your other blog readers, I too shall terribly miss having you blog from Ethiopia :-(. For those of us living on this side and hungry for any ‘non-mainstream’ news from home, your blog has been a unique window to what has been happening at home. And your opinions, insights, and perspectives about events in your own life or in the general public have been the icing on the cake. Though I have no doubt you will have enough to blog about even from this end (if you are planning to continue blogging), we shall still tune in though we will very much miss having you blog from Addis. No clichés like joining the opposition party as soon as you arrive, and start attacking the current government for Abesheet. But feel free to start your own political party though :-).

    LOL about your readiness to rough it out on this side including getting your driving license incase you need to escape in a hurry! I can so relate to that tendency. Once a past BF told me how he noticed that I don’t even enter any new room without having noticed the exit signs first incase I had to make a hasty exit! I told him how for one reason or another I grew up sleeping with one eye open, alert even while asleep; and unfortunately old habits die hard even when one now lives in a relatively safer environment. You also strike me as someone like that! Am I right?!

    Good luck again Abesheet with your new upcoming adventure.

  • 10. chuni  |  February 20, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    hey mok’sheye, congrats on your visa.

    few things i would recomend are
    1. Berbere: yes you could buy it here too but it’s not the same. Bring a lot of it. It practically makes a dish.

    2. Qimemoch: mekelesha, yeQibe manteria minamin. The spices are really great even on american foods. I don’t recommed bringing yetenetere qibe. It’s a waste of space. If you have the spices, you can purify it here.

    3. Tilet yalachew scarf’och and bags: you can wear them with anything and they look stylish and unique.

    4. yebahil libs inspired tank tops, skirts, and tops. I wear mine with jeans all the time and it’s unique and beautiful at the same time.

    5. I totally agree with bringing GABI !!!!

    6. Fresh coffee beans: this is one of the most important once. I’m sure you won’t have time to “besinesreAt buna maflat” but when you do it occasionally, roasting the beans and “mash’tet” the “chis” brings a lot of memories.

    *6B) Jebena (X 2), rekebot, sini, and qolem’shash

    7. oh And frozen “doro wot” goes really well with your dirkosh.

    btw, check if you can bring raw meat (quwanta). My dad couldn’t get it passed customs few yrs ago.

    melkam guzo!

  • 11. Mamitu  |  February 20, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Congarats Abesheet. ,

    I would say bring Korerima, Korerima, Korerima.. and some Koseret on top of what everyone is saying. You will need a lot of it if you want to make nitter Kibeh. And don’t dump all your nice clothes in Addis.

  • 12. alem  |  February 20, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Congrats Abesheet,

    Mamitu is right you need korerima and more korerima and koseret of courrse. since Berbere lasts long I sugest you take your mom’s:) instead of the market one from here. if you have any favorite amharic books don’t leave them behind. Beterefe; I wishe you the best of luck . I so much will miss your blog:(
    hey BTW not everyone joines the oppositiion group. some of us are still indeworeden unchanged 🙂

  • 13. Inem  |  February 21, 2009 at 3:13 am

    Congratulations Abesheet, finally you will be with your beloved. You said it and I confirm, Mazzi yanchi bathon…. isuaw chersawalech. I wish you the best of times in San Diego, and I am confident you can make it anywhere. Regarding the driving license, that was good thinking from your part, just take as much lesson as you can from the ever available baby-fiat or beetle owners around Addis Stadium once in a while, even a few lessons would make the transition to the law abiding traffic easier. As Mazzi said it would not be a big deal to get a license in USA. Instead of carrying lots of CD just buy a voluminous external hard disk and put everything there, you never know your luggage may exceed the wieght limit. I suggest the tacky souvenirs (disprportinate figures, carvings etc pasted on velvet background) people will give you as a farewell gift should be left behind. They will only crowd your luggage and may never be displayed in your new home. I will do the same to the buna bet siiloch type art works printed on irafi, abujedi or canvas.
    How about both the pro government amd pro oppositions join you instead, wishful thinking on my part.
    Behedshibet yiqnash!!!

  • 14. Mazzi  |  February 21, 2009 at 7:02 am

    I second the ladies’ suggestion of bringing cooking spices (no store bought berrbere would rival the one your Mom might prepare for you) and spices needed for Qibbe manTeria if you like Qibbe. I find Qibbe to be too much trouble to prepare (never quite learned how to manTer Qibbe) and something I can actual do without except in the occasional Kitfo. What is Kitfo without Abesha Qibbe after all?

    I also second Inem’s idea about copying all songs (in MP3 format) from your CDs to either large storage flash drives or a portable external hard drive (if you have any already or can buy reasonably affordable ones from local electronic stores) using your lap top. I just don’t know what is available on the ground in Addis stores when it comes to latest computer accessories and large external storage devices. That way, you don’t even have to worry about packing the actual hard CDs and their heavy covers because sure enough no matter how light you think you packed, luggage weight limit will always be an issue come departure date! It comes with traveling while being Abesha ;-). After you copy all your songs, you can even give your CDs to your younger siblings … assuming of course you even have similar taste in music!

    I have my entire music collection myself on large storage flash drives and back up external drives. I don’t even remember the last time I popped a music CD anywhere! All of my CD collections from years and years back that I have already copied to MP3 files are just sitting in some storage box collecting dust. And thanks to downloading music from the Net, I don’t see myself buying any CD any time soon either unless it is a must have Abesha CD not available for downloads. I think soon CDs themselves will be a thing of the past thanks to iPods, MP3 music players, and the Internet of course.

    And I can’t agree more about leaving all the bulky carvings and figures you are bound to get as gifts behind! LOL Inem about the ones pasted on velvet background, and the buna bet siiloch type art works printed on irafi, abujedi or canvas :-). Classic! Like Inem said, you most likely won’t end up using them anyways just like the extra Abesha-libses you might be asked to take. Besides, a lot of Abeshas buy the same types of tired motif paintings, carvings, posters etc from home or Abesha stores here to a point where many Abeshas’ common rooms’ deco in their houses or apartments all over the US start to look the same … a decorator’s basic nightmare! So much for individuality!!

    You being a proactive gal, how about you tell your friends and family directly what they can give you as parting gifts if they were planning or it? Gifts that you can actually take and use. Or would that be too rude and inappropriate for our Abesha culture?

    I am sure you will know what to do. In the mean time, enjoy Addis and what it has to offer for the time you have left there :-).

  • 15. Girum  |  February 21, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Mazzi, am impressed by your contribution to the sister.

  • 16. Totit  |  February 22, 2009 at 5:04 am

    Hey Abesheet…Congratualtions on ur visa…Well I have nothing to add to the list …All has been said…Enjoy the few weeks u have in Addis with ur friends and family…Melkam gize yehunelesh…

  • 17. abesheet  |  February 23, 2009 at 5:57 am

    If it weren’t for the terrible pain in my back (not sure if it’s stress-induced or the less than one mile walk on the Awarama Gerji road of the other day), I’d have “GonBes Qena biye” misGanayen maQreb for every one of you. Such being the case, however, yeQaal misGanaye keAkbirot gar yiDresachu. I’m making a list of all your recommendations and giving them to my mom. That way, I would make sure neither prepares what i didn’t want her to, nor forgets that i need.

    *blows kisses to all*

  • 18. luli  |  February 23, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    abesheet,
    CONGRATULATIONS! I strongly suggest bringing over something old, something that has the smell of your home. I brought my dad’s gabi, with his scent still on it, when i made my trip here … it helped during many lonely times

  • 19. Ras X  |  February 24, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    If you’re trying to be ultra-conservative. Just know that, everything you need, you can find in the states. Even if its not there, you can save enough money to get it where ever it is at. So with that said. The fastest flight you can get is the flight for a one-way with Ethiopian Airlines to Washington D.C. is about 20 hours. There are in flight movies. A couple of meals. If you are a talker, pray that you sit next to one too. If you are not, pray that you don’t sit next to a talker. You can change seats in mid-flight if you don’t like yours, but usually the experienced fliers take the good ones as soon as they can. Remember to dress for comfort, not for style if it makes you sacrifice comfort. Think about what you like to do that kills time. Then do that on the flight. Is your husband going to be with you on the flight? If not, make sure he has all the information he needs to pick you up. If you’re worried to fly by yourself, ask him to go with, I’m sure he’d not mind.

  • 20. tpeace  |  February 24, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    gotta say! you picked a mighty niceeee location — san diego …it’s like a dreammm there. i suggest not overpacking but that could just be me. make sure to weigh ur luggage ahead of time. bring some kocho and ayib if u like that cos u prolly wont get good food like that kind over there – yohannes kitffo have frozen kind that you can just take with you. this is like my solace and the one thing i ask for when ppl come from ethio. other than that – it would be a nice memrobilia to take pictures of the mundane things that you dont think you would miss but would warm your heart when u see them…

    that’s about it!

    SAFE TRAVELS 😀 and i guess i’ll welcome u next time u’re blogging from over here yonder on the west of the atlantic 🙂

  • 21. Girum  |  February 25, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Please don’t change the style of my eshoe box to something non ‘ Hagergna’…!? WE LOVE IT!!

    Sira Salata

  • 22. abesheet  |  February 26, 2009 at 6:07 am

    So nice to finally see you out, Sira salata wudu wondime. You’ve been missed 😉 .

    Please don’t change the style of my eshoe box to something non ‘ Hagergna’…!?

    Was thinking “My SanD e-Box”. But if you insist 😉 .

  • 23. Mazzi  |  February 26, 2009 at 7:29 am

    LOL Abesheet about “My SanD e-Box” – the potential ‘upgraded’ name for your blog :-).

    I second the advice above for you to take many pictures of the mundane things you might actually miss once you cross the ocean. Besides taking pictures of friends, family, and colleagues (both casual pictures at work and play and maybe formal family portraits), don’t forget to also take pictures of the ordinary. Like … the famous Addis Mini-bus/Wiyiyit taxis and their legendary weyala’s that you have often advocated for; random pictures of your sefer(s) and inside roads where you live now and where your family lives; your favorite Addis hang out places; your apartment (inside and the outside of the building) and your family’s home where you grew up; your neighbors (the likes of the Rasta wanna be fellow next door) at your building and those you grew up around at your family home; the video rental place you are sure going to miss; pictures of AAU campus, and any other place you will definitely remember so fondly once you are on this side.

    Don’t forget (if you can) to scan into digital files as many old precious family and friends photos as you can, and just for fun, when friends and family come to visit you, ask them to bring with them few favorite pictures from their own albums that they might think you would like to have a copy of so you can also scan those for your collection and return the pictures back to them. When home sickness kicks in once in a while, it is great to have pictures to reminisce over ;-).

    I also second the advice about dressing for comfort when you travel. Comfort should come first at all cost, and in my opinion, no tight belts or tight fitting cloths or shoes :-). It sure ain’t gonna be fun sitting still nonstop for twenty something hours in the plane(s) before you reach San Diego. I hope you are the kind who can sleep while traveling because that sure will pass the time. But if you are like me and can’t sleep a wink while traveling alone (no matter how long the journey), then definitely look for something else to keep you occupied. I hate talking to people sitting next to me on planes, so to kill time I used to write letters in planes the old fashion way though thanks to e-mail/Internet and texting/mobile phones now a days no one seems to write letters anymore. I still do, however, and I must be one of the few people who once in a while still write letters the old fashion way!

    Have a safe journey and enjoy the time you have left before your travel.

  • 24. abesheet  |  February 26, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Thank you again, all, for the advices and tips.

    Mazzi:
    What a delight it was, reading your observation of my sensititvity when it comes to “miskinochu yeAddis Ababa woyaloch”. I’ve wanted to do more than talk about it on my blog, but it still felt good .. recognized. Have i mentioned how it’s been one of my “if i were a millionnaire” fantacies: building a Teacher’s Training School (which could produce the type of “YeEwQet Abaats” my dad and my Junior High teachers at “Yeka Misrak Chora” were) and establishing “yeWoyaloch MeBt tekerakari mahber”?! Would have to wait .. now.. i guess.

    I laughed out loud when reading “I hope you are the kind who can sleep while traveling because that sure will pass the time. But if you are like me and can’t sleep a wink while traveling alone”. You know what, i hope so too 🙂 . Coz this is the 2nd ever flying journey i’m embarking on. The first being to Gondar, to celebrate my 25th birthday (my quarter of century years, so to say) with a friend who was on a 6 month “field” work there. 45 minutes of excitement which turned to agony after the technician sitting next complimented me on my courage and explained how people can’t help being scared when they think of how “semay lai tenTelTilew endalu”. Which is why I know i won’t try to chit-chat with a fellow traveller this time around.

  • 25. Mazzi  |  February 26, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    When ever any of your posts mentioned Addis’ legendary Minibus/Wiyiyit Weyalas (sometimes in passing, sometimes in detail, and whether in good light or not), your sensitivity towards their plight and general way of living always came across. I was often touched by that partly because I too used to feel like that when I used to take taxis everywhere in Addis and Weyalas were part of my every day reality. I imagine it has been like that for you as well since you too take taxis around Addis, and come across Weyalas just about every single day. I imagined you would make a great advocate or a leader of sort in some capacity in a ‘Weyalas labor union organization’ that would stand for the rights and fair treatments of all Weyalas everywhere :-).

    Growing up, I was a city girl through and through with close relatives still living in rural areas who either came to the city to visit us or my family sometimes went to visit them in their own homes. When ever we visited family in rural areas, I often met young relatives who looked at Addis Ababa as the ‘Promised Land’, and were very eager to go to Addis and do just about any job they can hoping for better opportunity. Some of the young men who left their rural homes for Addis had to quickly leave their rural naiveté behind in exchange for city streets hustling, if among other things, they wanted to become fast talking and street smart Weyalas. So when every I used to see these Weyalas, it used to make me think of how young most were/are (or at least how they must have been young when they started, as young ones even fit better in cramped taxi interiors without taking space that could be used by a paying customer), and how unprotected and vulnerable they were/are to all kinds of abuse both by their employers and customers. If they did not live with families in the city, I often wondered what their lives must be like when they go home, where ever home might be, in their off hours. So I hear you about your wish to establishing “yeWoyaloch MeBt tekerakari mahber” if you could :-). It is a sweet and compassionate sentiment.

    I have that kind of soft spot and sensitivity for all ‘live-in’ maids (serateNas), nannies (mogzits) and all other kinds of domestic workers in Addis Ababa’s (or any other city for that matter) households. If there ever should have been any ‘meBt askebari or tekerakari mahber’ for such vulnerable section of laborers, I felt it should have been for such domestic workers. In many households, they were often treated like 24hr on call slaves even when they were paid very little for all that they do for the family and often working with no life of their own! Though my Mom was often a kind employer to such maids when I was growing up (she was already being abused by her husband and did not have it in her to abuse others more vulnerable than her), I still felt guilty growing up how the women who cooked, cleaned, and took care of us when I was young often had babies or children of their own that they left behind (either in rural areas or with relatives in Addis) when they came to work for us. What ever little time off they had to go and visit their families was far from being enough, and their children had to grow up without their mothers. So I often felt guilty for having my own Mom around and another mother figure in the house in the form of a maid or a nanny who was helping raise us while essentially being deprived of raising her own children. Talk about guilt even to this day! When you come to this side and start running a household without any domestic help, I am sure you will start to appreciate how little we pay domestic workers back home and how often than not we do not afford them the respect they deserve. So here is to the freedom of all oppressed and vulnerable people everywhere!

    Your long plane journey coming this side will sure make you find out if you are the sleeping kind on unusually extended journeys. I hope you are too since that is the best way to pass the time. But if who ever sitting next to you is chatty in a pleasant way, that will pass the time too. I just don’t like being interrogated by passengers sitting next to me about my whole life history. My attitude is, “I don’t want to know about your whole life, so why would you want to know about mine?! Frankly, none of your business where I am going or why I am going there!” :-). Some people can be very intrusive I tell ya! But if they are pleasant, that is welcome.

    May God let you sit as far away from a restless, fidgeting, or crying child as possible!!! Poor things, they can’t sit still for hours, and the pressure they feel in their ear drums from the high altitudes hurts them and makes them cranky. Which reminds me by the way, DON’T FORGET to take a pack of chewing gum with you, and chew gum often on the plane in between meals to fight the uncomfortable pressure you will feel in your ears in high altitudes! It is better than attempting to swallow often to diffuse the pressure and make oneself dehydrated in the process:-). Chapsticks are also great to have in your purse to fight dryness of the lips ;-). And ignore passengers who are scared of flying themselves or like scaring others by constantly talking about how high the plane is. Just imagine how only few decades ago (before trans-Atlantic flights were even possible) how it used to take about two long months of journey on the ocean via giant ships to make it to these shores! So compared to that, twenty or so hours of flight will be a breeze. Besides, the prospect of seeing your beloved will ease the time it will take to fly :-).

    One small advice about horribly long flights…. If you need to use their tiny airplane restrooms, don’t wait till the plane is about to land as they won’t let you use them then since everyone has to be seated. Once on an eighteen hour flight, after drinking so much water and coffee in flight, I stood in a rather long line to use the rest rooms. And right when it was about to be my turn to use the facilities, we were all told to go back to our seats in preparation for landing! I had to wait till landing to use any rest room at the airport’s arrival, and let me tell ya, that was quite an ordeal! So don’t forget to walk around in the isles to help blood circulation to the legs (many do that actually), and use the facilities often before anyone starts lining up for them ;-). Hehe… just a thought.

    OK Abesheet, I will leave you alone now. You must be getting tired of advices by now, so I will zip it!

    Have a great day.

  • 26. abesheet  |  February 27, 2009 at 6:34 am

    Not at all Mazziye 🙂 . I’m actually printing every comment and taking it home to read and re-read it. Highlighting the part where a food stuff or item that should not be left behind appears and asking around as to where & for how much i could buy USD (Sistu couldn’t emphasize the wisdom of having money in hand enough).

    So feel free to hit me with an advice whenever it comes to you. I could use a lot of it.

  • 27. Mazzi  |  February 27, 2009 at 8:39 am

    🙂 Abesheet …

    Sistu is very right in emphasizing the importance of having at least some USD on hand, if nothing else for unforeseen incidentals at airports. If you are flying Ethiopian Airlines, it sure is the most direct flight from Addis to DC (followed by another domestic flight from DC to San Diego). However, from what ever little experience I have had with EAL, their customer service skills (or lack of!) has never impressed me! They often have a ‘take it or leave it!’ careless attitude when dealing with customers, and my mother did not have the best of luck with them the last time she travelled this side.

    Before she left to come this side from Addis, I had purchased an American calling card from this end, and called home to tell her the American calling card’s numbers and calling instructions. That way, she could carry the US calling card number and calling instructions with her in case she needed to make calls once she got to Newark, NJ airport (EAL goes to DC and Newark airports). As soon as she arrived at Newark airport and passed through customs, I wanted her to use one of the many airport public phones to call me and let me know she at least arrived safe on US soil before she boarded another domestic transfer flight to come to the nearest airport to where I live.

    That was the best thing I did because as it happens her connecting flight from Newark to where I live was all together cancelled due to severe weather my side (I curse this snowy climate I live in!). Thankfully, she was able to call me from Newark airport to let me know she was OK though I found out her flights were cancelled. If she did not call me, I had no way of reaching her at the airport and would have worried so much! Of course if people were nice at the airport, she could have asked other passengers if she could use their phones to make a quick call to me instead of using the public phones. But Americans are not particularly fond of sharing their gadgets :-). Unless she met sympathetic folks, they would have given her that, “get your own phone!” look ;-). I did not want her to worry about that, nor did I want her to look for change (santimoch) in US currency to use on the public phones to make the call (hence the calling card option).

    Because of the delay, she even had to spend the night at a nearby hotel till the weather cleared up for travel again (it took EAL NINE freaking hours of negotiation and airport mengelatat before they decided to put their stranded travelers with missed connecting flights in near by hotels for the night) till the next flights. Needless to say my Mom was extremely anxious about the whole ordeal! Thank God she could at least communicate well in English to get by. But in all that delay and missed flight madness, having that calling card number on hand was a savior to both of us because when ever she was anxious or plans changed she was able to call me from where ever she was at the airport or finally from the hotel. AND having USD on her hand meant she could buy her food herself without worry. Such rare incidentals are all the more reason why Sistu emphasizes the importance of having USD on your hands.

    As one more suggestion to add to your list (how many times have I said that already?!), it might not be a bad idea for Chris to purchase some US calling card and pass the calling card numbers and calling instructions to you via e-mail or phone so you can have it in your possession incase you need to call him (or any other friends or family) from DC airport (if that is where you are arriving first) before you board another plane to San Diego. You never know! Though I feel like all is going to go smoothly in your travels, the calling card might come in handy for emergencies :-).

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