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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff

Travel + Adventure = Healing - Ethiopia - 4 - Peds Hem/Onc 2

Not that hospitals are luxury places, especially in developing nations, but I was shocked once we strolled by the kitchen area where parents can use the facilities to make food (I’m not sure how the dietary services work there and were afraid to ask).

It was filthy—there is no other way to describe it! That saddened me to no end.

More deep breaths.

Apparently, no one cleans up after themselves, and I am not sure there was a housekeeping staff for cleanliness and overall hygiene. I’m betting no on that one. There were grimy old and outdated appliances (provided they worked), greasy floors, and food crumbs all over the countertops. My first thought when I saw this arrangement was rats! I tried to keep my interest in the “tour” and not make a funny face at how appalled I was taking a look around the stark and dingy kitchen.

When I mentioned the kitchen area to Julie and Dr. Shad later that day, they both looked at each other and smirked. They both told me that since Aslan has been a part of the equation, the kitchen is much better than it used to be! I shook my head in disgust. Then the lightbulb went off.

Either this is how people live, or there are not many cleaning supplies available. I wanted to take an old rag and some soap, even bar soap, to that kitchen and flooring that probably could have made a world of difference in their sanitation for that day. Looking around, it didn’t seem like it was a priority or anyone cared at that moment except me!

Free and I finished the tour with the humble and kind charge nurse who was doing her best day in and day out with what supplies and medical equipment they had to work with on a daily basis. We exited the prison-like hospital to brilliant sunshine and our driver waiting patiently in the parking lot.

Before I reveal other stories from my time spent in Addis Ababa with Free, Ahmed, Dr. Shad, and Julie, along with my “cancer kid bathing” time at the Mother Teresa Home (twice), the planning of this trip took much time in energy as a solo traveler in the month leading up to embarking on my first flight to the Middle East.

When my travel agent, Norman, mentioned off-handedly that I had a four-hour layover in Dubai traveling back from Ethiopia to the States (at an odd time), I paused. Hmm, I thought. I wonder if I could convert those four hours to something longer, perhaps four days in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Norman was still working on my “in-house” flights " in Ethiopia to Lalibela and Axum (on the Eritrea border), but I was about to tackle another hair-brained idea.

On a whim and with a “strict” budget, I googled Solo Travel for Women Over 50 for travel worldwide, hoping to find a budget-conscious site. There were not too many hits, but I did find Stephanie, a Brit who has been traveling solo for several years and has made a career out of it, writing travel guides and selling some things from her website: Steph—Big World Small Pockets 1. I tend to travel "bush league," as my father called it - on a wing and a prayer and a few bucks in the pocket. The basic meaning is inferior or amateurish, mediocre, but I never would call how I travel and of those adjectives.

So, I reached out to her via email. We had lovely exchanges for about a month while I was in the planning stages, and she was gracious and kind in helping me navigate all the intricacies of solo travel and safe places to rest my head at night (a big worry from, you know who, hubby Bill).

But…I needed to find a place(s) to stay in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. I wasn’t too picky (though Abu Dhabi was an hour and a half away from the Dubai Airport).

For the record, I never worried a lick.




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1 Comment

May 09

Thank you for sharing part of your live, travel and interest for others in each blog, every time that I read im getting to know more about you.

You have a huge and humble heart.

I know that God is always by your side.

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