Having moved country four times in the last six years, we’ve dealt with endless logistics. Here’s how the move to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia went;
– 10 days (roughly) spent packing & bubble wrapping fragile items from sunrise till midnight with only pee breaks
– 23 boxes, 11 suitcases & 3 hand luggage cases aided this move
– 3 suitcases arrived broken with no reimbursement
– In total over 380kg of our stuff has been shipped unaccompanied
– We had over 115kg of check-in luggage in total
– 5.5 hours were spent trying to get my 180kg of personal effects from South Africa (which included standing by watching nearly all 14 of my boxes being ripped open by customs despite them being x-rayed and providing a detailed list of contents). And when I asked them to reseal the boxes so items wouldn’t fall out when being transported home, I was charged for the tape!
– 5 hours were spent trying to convert my driver’s licence (which included two trips to my embassy) but it still didn’t happen because I need it to be validated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the country it was issued. My next flight there is in a year.
– 2 hours spent trying to find a micro sim for my cellphone
– 4 days cleaning our dusty new home left uncleaned for 4 months before we moved (ok we hired someone to do this)
– Ethiopian authorities required my marriage certificate to go through 3 stages of certification before it was considered valid for a spousal residence permit (including visiting a notary public in Norway, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Norway, Norwegian embassy in Addis and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Addis before being submitted for the permit process)
– Though I spent only four weeks in Addis between September and December 2013 and had to pay USD20 every time I entered the country, my 1 year residence permit which was just issued is only valid till September 2014
– In the last six months I have given away between 6-12 passport photos for various administrative things
On the plus side there are a few skills I have not been able to use for the few years I’ve been living off the African continent.
– Crossing a four-lane road without getting knocked over
– Being able to keep looking ahead when walking whilst simultaneously staying on both feet to avoid falling in a gaping hole in the ground all the while ensuring you don’t get hit by any rubbish that may be thrown out of moving cars
– Using various tongue clicks; like the one you use to show disapproval to boys and grown men a like hissing at you in the street, or when someone tells you something shocking, sad or horrifying, or when someone drops something on the floor or when you’re annoyed about someone bumping into you without saying sorry
But I am keeping an open mind and holding out for the little gems that the guide books promise are there if you just give them a little chance. Afterall, how ridiculous is it to move to a place and be surprised when it’s nothing like what you’re used to.
My eldest sister Michelle, the family consigliere and motivational speaker, always says: ‘Don’t expect things to be a certain way. No one (also interchanged with the world on occasion) owes you anything. Be who you want to be and draw that positivity towards you.’
So good luck to me!