We got the email this week that we will be assigned to the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for one year. We will leave in one year, after Chris completes his French course. The funny thing is, they don’t speak French in Ethiopia!
I have more questions than I have answers, but they sent us a 95 page document with a lot of answers. Here are some of them.
*As far as church goes there are three branches, two of them in Addis Ababa. None of them are held in English, but a very nice lady who used to live there told me that they provided them with translators sometimes. Our closest temple is either across the African continent or in Italy. Either way it requires passports, visas, plane tickets and an extended stay away from home. Monthly temple attendance will no longer be possible.
*They suggest we hire a day guard, a maid, a cook, maybe a driver or even a nanny. It’s important to support locals. I have heard that this is suggested before, but I saw it today in writing. As much as I don’t enjoy housework, it will be very strange having someone else doing it for me. I will never hire a nanny, I like my kids too much to have someone else raising them!
*We can ship our car there if we want to, it will take 3-6 months to arrive. It’s also extremely expensive to fix a car that breaks down because American parts are hard to find. We have a while to decide if the independence is worth the hassle (international drivers license, extra insurance fees, breaking down in unsavory places etc).
*Local things to do. I took this directly from the manual they sent to us: “Many people enjoy going camping on the weekends. You can rent campsites and camping equipment from the embassy recreation center at Lake Lagano. Other activities include tennis, golf, horseback riding, craft classes (mosaics, quilting), children’s cooking, American movies, running clubs, soccer, piano, swimming, aerobics classes (spinning, yoga, pilates, etc.), game drives, dinner parties and visits to a local water/amusement park.”
*We will have a mailing address that is safe to use. I wasn’t sure about this. The mail goes through the embassy, and we can pick up our mail there when it arrives. We won’t have a house address where we can receive mail. I can even continue to order from Amazon.
And lastly, a HUGE list of things we cannot easily get in Addis Ababa, and what they recommend we do about it. What could you live without? What can WE live without? I guess we will find out in a year! For those of you know Taiten and Kaia… I worry about them too with this list!
- Freeze cheese and bring it in your luggage, cheeses you are familiar with are VERY hard to find here
- Juice (especially if you have children that consume a lot of juice)
- Olive oil
- Other cooking oils (they are sometimes available but much more expensive here)
- Snacks (such as crackers, chips, cookies, microwave pop-corn, fruit snacks, etc) ßThese things don’t exist here outside of the commissary, which is generally well-stocked but very expensive
- Cold or hot cereals (also available here but not in all the varieties available in the US)
- Canned beans (black, refried, etc)
- White and brown sugar
- Wheat flour (white flour is easy to find here)
- Pepperoni or other shelf-stable meats
- Baking supplies (baking soda, baking powder, boxed cake or brownie mixes)
- Powdered milk (milk is sometimes available here but it can sell out all across the city, and what you can find is generally low-quality and frequently already spoiled upon purchase)
- Powdered drinks (Gatorade or Pedialyte is very useful when you are suffering from intestinal upsets; a common problem here)
- Steak sauce/mayo/ketchup/mustard/salad dressing and other desired specific condiments
- Chocolate chips
- Pancake mix and maple syrup
- Jelly or Jam
- Peanut butter
- S. stamps (you can mail through the pouch or Mail Angel here, and you can buy stamps from the commissary)
- Plastic kitchen garbage bags
- Ziploc bags
- Preferred brands of toiletries
- Feminine hygiene products
- Baby milk formula
- Diapers and wipes
- Over the counter medications like Claritin, Benadryl, Tylenol, Motrin, cold and cough, anti-itch, bug repellant, feminine care products, contact solution, anti-fungal creams, sunscreen (VERY IMPORTANT)
- A year’s supply of contacts
- Extra prescription eye glasses
- Quality sunglasses
- Inhalers (IF YOU NEED IT BRING IT BECAUSE YOU CAN’T SHIP IT THROUGH THE POUCH)
- Laundry soap and dryer sheets (especially important if you have an allergy because specialty products are not available outside the commissary)
- Cleaning supplies (sometimes available here, but not in US strengths)
- Towels, sheets, pillow cases, wash clothes
- Toys & games
- DVDs and Blu-rays
- Aluminum foil
- Books (They are very expensive here but they are easy to ship from Amazon)
- Spare tires (at least two) for your POV—best case scenario with a rim already mounted (tires are expensive here and flats are common)
- An uninterruptable power supply (UPS) or two for your electronics (frequent power outages can play havoc with your electronic equipment)
- Power strips for your 110V electronics
- Additional transformers (also you may consider buying 3000W or 5000W transformers if you have a lot of electronics or powerful kitchen appliances, because the embassy transformers only go up to 1600W)