Stranded in Addis Abeba

Knowledge brokering17 Apr 2010Thea Hilhorst

I am experiencing a touch of disaster as I am stranded in Ethiopia and have to wait for the cloud of volcanic ashes to blow away and bother some other part of the world. Of course, I am not really, really affected. Impacts of disaters are usually class-differentiated. In this case it is an upperclass disaster that mainly affects affluent people that can afford to fly. Yet, there are also many classes of flyers. My trip is work-related so I can go to a hotel without having to worry too much about money. I have been welcomed by the SNV office in Addis where I can work on my backlag of emails and other jobs. So, I can manage easily and I do feel sorry for the thousands of people who don’t know where to stay, have to hang around in airports or engage in unforeseen expenses. There is one aspect, however, in which this disaster is remarkably homogeneous. Everybody is equally kept in the dark on how long it will take. None of the airlines dare to predict the extent of the delay. Some people anticipate we may fly tomorrow, others fear it will last for weeks. It is a big difference from other moments when I experienced delays, when I always knew more or less the extent of it. Now, I have no choice but to resign to whatever may come. Good for my character and ability ‘to let go’, one could argue, but I can’t help to feel pretty lost.