The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly - a Tale of Bacteria
June 12th 2003
I had to get up early for my flight and I stumbled down to the reception area of the hotel. When I got down there, the guard and his friend a taxi driver were asleep. They woke up and asked me whether I wanted a taxi, and I argued a price with them. However, once outside in the dark, cool night I could see that the taxi driver had been drinking. A short exchange followed and I told him no way quite bluntly and walked off. I found another taxi quite quickly, and one that asked for 25birr immediately. This was a reasonable price and I accepted. The driver also seemed alert and friendly.

Once on the plane I kept thinking what would it be like to be coming back for good. That thought made me quite excited, and I realised that I would have quite liked this to have been my final flight. Possibly not the most positive thought, but one that I definitely thought.

As we flew it was like the sun was playing a game with me - it would highlight everywhere there was water. Bounding ahead to show me where the next river was with brilliant reflected light, like a dog running ahead of its master to show where the best smells can be found. Clearly there was still water to be had, whether any will reach Tigray is a different matter though.

On the flight I met some Americans and a Brit who had been out in the sticks for three months treating eye infections. The Brit was coming back to Frimley Park Hospital, and seemed happy when I told her that I knew it quite well.

The flight arrived early and I went through baggage collect quite quickly. One of the first things I did in baggage claim was to turn on my mobile phone. I wanted to see if there would be any messages. I was rather dissapointed to find none. Not even Vodaphone with their welcome to the network message. The phone had not worked in Ethiopia - In some African countries mobiles are now more popular and useful than land lines because you don't need to put up wires.

Of course, the moment I had been waiting for was meeting Sarah again after four months away. She was waiting outside of the arrivals gate and I am glad it is was not Ethiopia. Kissing in public is not the done thing!

The car was loaded and we went onto the M25 and got stuck in a traffic jam caused by an almighty downpour. Yes, this was England.

I am being careful not to show only the brown, dry side to Ethiopia as you will see in the photos. However, the amount of green in the UK was a feast to what I now realised had been green starved eyes.

Here are some of the other things that I noticed about england. Traffic moves very quickly on the road (and there is a new type of Fiat). When you have a credit card you are not constantly planning to make sure that you have brought enough cash with you. It is so easy to buy food and there is so much available. I would love to take one of the students and to put them in the middle of a big Asda or the like. I think that they would freak. We went to one Asda that was as big as Mekelle Airport. The temperature during summer felt like that in Ethiopia - i.e. Mekelle/Ainalem is rarely *really* hot.

Probably the only other thing of real note as the fact that I was quite ill. An excess of food produced, as had been predicted by most people (myself included) an excess of the squits. It got so bad that I had to see the doctor, and they gave me some anti-biotics that that did the trick almost immediately. I think I will follow the advice in the health book and have a dose of anti-biotics when I return.

I had to try a self fix, which didn't work. I got Sarah to buy some of the Actimel drinks with the 'good bacteria'. I hoped that they would slug it out with the bad bacteria. I drank a couple on the way back from the airport, but as can be seen this did not work. Worth a try though.