It was well into the night by the time I had cleared customs and was the holder of a 30-day tourist visa for unrestrained access to Ethiopia. I took a look at a map and felt overcome by distress. The three weeks that lay ahead of me seemed an eternity: the time to reach and visit the deep south surely wouldn't need to be that long? I conceded that that little ribbon of a road seemed flattened in time, distance and altitude, and that my mind was still anchored to European schedules. Things would look quite different once I was floating in the fuzzy undetermination of African time.
The noise resounding in the vast airport hall had already subsided by the time I emerged from arrivals. Sleeping bodies were lying on the floor or on rows of flimsily padded chairs. They were airport workers off their shift, local travellers in wait for an early morning flight, and even foreigners who had just arrived or were waiting for their departure. I too didn't go out in the middle of the night in search of a hotel I had failed to reserve. I lay down and fell into a slumber. It was only at 6 when the airport was waking up to a new busy day that I moved to the still calm first floor to spend the last couple of hours of sweet sleep.