IRPfellows, Mozambique — Oct 26, 2014

Chegamos em Moçambique

Flying from Frankfurt to Addis Ababa on one of Ethiopian Airlines’ new Boeing 787s, I couldn’t help but notice the disconnect between a brand-spanking-new fleet of aircraft and the dated, dingy interiors. I geek out a bit about the Dreamliner; they have state-of-the-art window dimmers, practically silent engines, and fly at a higher altitude than other commercial aircraft but pressurize the cabin to a lower altitude. (Nevermind that electrical problems caused by lithium batteries grounded several aircraft in its early days.) Yet the seats and carpets are made of material that saw its glory days in the 70s. My only other experience on the Dreamliner was flying with budget airline Norwegian on a flight full of Redditors who had discovered cheap fares from Oakland, California. I confess I love it.

I sat next to an American military man who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan who was headed to an American base in Djibouti where they run drone flights over Yemen and organize special op missions across the continent, which kept me occupied for a fair part of the flight.

We landed at dawn as the sunrise bathed Ethiopia in a glow unlike anything I’ve seen before. Despite huge banners proudly boasting the Ethiopian highlands as the home of coffee arabica, getting a cup proved challenging. The airport’s main cafe seemed to have about ten porcelain cups that needed washing between customers, as dozens of cranky passengers gathered around the bar.

Then it was off to Maputo, unfortunately not on a Dreamliner this time. Upon arrival we passed through a health check where officials pointed plastic guns a few inches from our foreheads to check for fever. Some of us also had to show proof of Yellow Fever vaccination. Immigration officers then recorded our finger prints on the same scanner used by hundreds of greasy paws before us. Anything in the name of sanitation!

I’ve had few daylight hours but will have a chance to explore Maputo today.