We did not know the complication of the Orthodox Easter events before we arrived. Dawit followed the traditions, yet he did not impose his faith on us. He maintained his traditional fasting throughout our tour as we ate what the hotels and restaurants catered to foreign tourists. All through our time with him, he provided all the services expected of a guide and translator, and when circumstances got extreme, fixer. A marvelous fellow. Diligent, imaginative, tireless.

Yet, that first morning, soldiers blocked him.

"If you are here to meet foreigners, call them. They must tell us you are their agent ...."

Dawit? Where is Dawit?

Soldiers toldl Dawit to call us inside the terminal, we did not have an Ethiopian SIMM card in my cellphone. How could he call us?

This difficulty confronted us in the first minutes of the tour. As the situation with Somalia required extreme security measures at the international airport, Dawit could not wait in the terminal to greet us. He needed to call us. We needed to call him. How? A young woman working for a hotel explained the situation and helped us.

Even though we were not her clients, she called Dawit. So many of the Ethiopians we encountered proved as helpful as the young lady working for the Crown Hotel.

A Soviet-Era Hotel

From the airport, Dawit took us through the chaos of Addis Abba to the beautiful gardens of the Hotel Giron. The quiet, wood-paneled hotel once served as the luxury showcase of the capital to visiting Russians. Not now.

Russians partied here

In the past, Ethiopia offered escape from the snow for Soviet functionaries. A bar in the lobby, a gift shop stocked with exotic liquors. We no interest in drinking, we had flown fourteen hours to video a documentary. After checking in, we walked through the sunlit gardens to -- what the management called -- bungalows. Showered, changed clothes, prepped the cameras. Perhaps the room pleased Russians. I saw the toilet leaking, the missing drawer knob, the broken window without a screen -- after malaria in Kenya, I consider mosquitoes a threat. The video below shows the problems. In a TripAdvisor review, I suggested the room needed remodeling.

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