We had an agenda: 1. Open bank account. 2. Get SIM cards for phone service.
Hanook took the whole family out, walking, of course. At the bank we learned that only residents can hold accounts at a bank. We are not residents. Yet. The months leading up to the move were spent gathering paperwork for gaining work permits, which must be done in order to establish residency. I had to call an office at the school of my undergrad degree requesting a special note and signature be added to the back of my transcript and that someone write a letter to go along with my diploma. All to be authenticated. Why does Ethiopia need my college transcript?
On to the next stop. The SIM card.
But they require a passport photo. The first little photo shop did not have power. The next shop was closed for the previous day’s holiday. We finally found an open shop that had electricity. The “photographer” took each of us one at a time through the only door for what felt like yearbook shots: cheery smile, serious face, angle the knees and tilt head. Oh, these were gonna be great pictures. And Hanook returned after the processing to retrieve them for us.
Although we crossed neither item off our list, the day was still a win for me. I picked up a kilo (2.2 lbs) of avocados for 50 cents. Five very squishy avocados. From what I have seen of the produce, it looks over ripe on the outside but is perfect and delicious on the inside. Bananas are yellow and mostly black. I’ve never even seen a green or yellow banana here. And, it’s all a little bit smaller but more tasty. Makes me skeptical about produce from the States. It’s all so big, shiny and beautiful.
The following day, we were more realistic with our agenda. Just the phone service. No AT&T or Verizon Wireless stores here. The SIM card must be purchased at a government office. Really. So, everyone has to be patted down by uniformed officers before entering, but the female officer, without even leaving her telephone booth of a post, just gave me a once over with her eyes and waved me on in. Not my lucky day, I guess. Inside, we did a lot of people watching while waiting on Hanook who was asked to go make photo copies of our passports. This was a no-frills office. Come prepared, people. Those photos we took the previous day? They were stapled to each of our applications. Yes, all this for local phone service. Two hours later, we left with SIM cards. Yeah! But would not work in our iPhones. Ugh! Apparently an "unlocked" phone has a different meaning in Ethiopia.
Our new task: unlock our phones. The following weekend, we dropped them off for a few hours at a place a little farther away. A bit more promising but in the end no deal.
We tried once more, at a shop that kept both phones overnight. When they were returned, Keith’s phone was “jacked,” having been taken back a few decades, after having specifically stated not to upgrade or downgrade the iOS and NOT to delete anything. For you Apple geeks out there, they took it from 6.1 to 4.1 and DID delete everything!
Then, one fine day, a light shone down upon a stranger. A translator with impeccable English. Within seconds, he had swiped a few screens, entered some numbers and had Keith’s phone working on an Ethiopian network. I am so jealous.
I’ve been without a phone for 4 weeks. No email or internet at my fingertips. There’s no calling the hubs to see if he’ll be home for lunch. Or dinner. Or ask if he can pick up a veggie from the nearest produce stand. Or to just find out where he is so that we know in which direction to walk. None of that.
But, I’ve managed to survive. Somehow.
Another essential I survived 4 weeks without. Washing my hair. Yep. 4 weeks of no water, no products, no tools…nothing…for my hair. But it's clean now.
A few pictures I hope you'll enjoy:
Garrison pulled his 6th tooth out one morning this week.
All the boys got hair cuts this week. Total including tip: $2.15.
Clean chicken bones, thanks to my children. Who did the best job? That'd be Avery.
My little list maker. Walking doesn't stop her.
Why does this baseball-bat-weilding knight look so unhappy?
This one is from before we left the States, but I just saw it. The cake says "We Miss You," which is true for us.