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Master gives him strict orders.

As agreed, Chris has ordered the Ethiopian Airlines tickets for Friday next week. He will send all details and ticket information by email, and tomorrow I will have to print everything and take it, together with our passports, to the Embassy to get the visas. For me, and for Alem-Tsehay.

Before we close the phone, I whisper that I love him; he loves me too.


Early next morning I go to the internet caf__. I am nervous; what if the connection is off? In the past, there have been long periods without internet, some lasting for weeks. How would I possibly get the visas if there would be no access to my email?

There is no need to worry. The connection is good, and in no-time, I'm on my way to the Embassy with all the documents I have.

It is busy at the Embassy. After a thorough body search at the gate, I am sent to a building where I have to wait until it is my turn. All seats are taken, but one man, a Ferengi, stands up and offers his chair to me. Of course, I politely decline the offer, but he insists, telling me it is customary in his country to stand up for women, especially when they carry a baby.

"I assume you are here to get a visa," he continues, "so you better start following our customs." Other people, both Ferengi and Habesha, nod approvingly.

He does sound friendly, almost jokingly, and when he insists, I do sit down.

"How old is she," he continues, pointing at Alem-Tsehay, and I answer that she is five months now.

"Five months," he repeats, and then remains silent for a moment; as if he is digging his memory. "Five months; I remember my children at five months. Lots of changes; right? Moving, the first teeth, more and more recognizing and reacting to the people around them..."

I can't believe my ears; this is a man doing girl talk. Are all men from O. like that? I do know Chris was interested in Alem-Tsehay, but strangers? He takes out his mobile phone and starts swiping and tapping. I think he is looking for photos, but he is called away before I get to see them.

"Good luck!" he calls to me, just before he goes through the door. "Maybe we'll meet again."

Despite the many visitors, it doesn't take long before I am also called. I give them the passports, together with all the papers that Chris had sent me and the ones I received and collected earlier on. Then I have to sign one of them and another form from the Embassy, confirming they received all the documents, I have to give my phone number, and that's it.

"Are you sure?" I ask, confused. "This is all you need? And next week, they are ready?" I can't believe that it is this simple, but the man confirms it.

This is it. Tuesday next week, or perhaps even earlier, the visas are ready. "See you next week," the Embassy employee ends with a big smile. I can imagine this is one of the most satisfying jobs on earth; handing out visas. "And don't forget to enjoy your last days in Ethiopia. Eat and drink whatever you can. Abroad, it will never be the same..."


Back home, I am greeted by a group of neighbors. I already told some of them about the visas, and apparently, the news has spread. I make coffee and we talk; I tell everything I know about my new country, while the others contribute by telling about the experiences of family and other people they know living abroad. Especially for women, it is not easy to live outside Ethiopia.

When I go shopping, I get further proof on how fast the news travels. Several times I am being stopped by people who congratulate me; even people who hardly know me. Of course, it is nice to get the best wishes over and over again, but if the news travels this fast, I won't be able to tell it personally to those who matter. So, as soon as I come home, I take my phone and start calling. In no-time, every evening of the upcoming week is completely filled. Amazing; somehow, everybody has time.

I am about to leave the house to buy a new telephone card, when my friend Hirut shows up.

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