On Cloud Nine
The gentle air-hostess of Ethiopian Airlines asked me, as I woke up from my deep sleep, in Cloud Nine, "Would you like a spinach and cream cheese fritatta or a pancake?" Ravenous, I decided to go for the former since I preferred a savoury dish for breakfast - the pancakes would be served with jam so I decided to avoid it first thing in the morning.
Spacious seats, with a flat bed, the business class of Ethiopian Airlines is referred to as Cloud Nine. Three colours dominate the menu card, the pouches and the linen - red, yellow and green. Soft and fragrant, the yellow and green quilt lulls you into a deep slumber as we fly over the middle-east.
I looked out and it was 7.15 am in Addis Ababa and we were flying over a desert - a brown contoured land that was uninhabited for miles and miles. The flight map showed that the Equator passes through Nairobi, a little below Ethiopia and far below the southern tip of India. Muddy rivers flowed looking like rivulets from the plane, the landscape started becoming green and we were above Ogaden and Hargisa.
As we were nearing Addis Ababa, the clouds went above us and the hills seemed nearer. A smooth landing and it was time to rush to the connecting flight for Johannesburg. Escorted by friendly staff, we were told to board a coach that took us from the tarmac to our onward plane. The second leg of the journey was super smooth too and it began with a serving of assorted wines and Kolo (crunchy mix of roasted barley grains and peppered chick peas. The mid-day meal included Ethiopian national dishes like Doro Wot (spicy chicken stew); Minchet Abish (minced beef stew); Aterkik Alicha (stewed peas); Atakilt Wot (fried mixed vegetables) and Tibs Firfir (stewed beef) - all dishes were served with Injera - typical Ethiopian bread made from a grain called Teff - flat bread with a spongy texture - rolled and served with gravies. You could have the Cape Malay chicken curry, or braised lamb with Provencale sauce, pasta or cannelloni too. I preferred Ethiopian!
Coffee, not many know, is indigenous to Ethiopia and grows wild in the forests of the south-western highlands.
As the plane flew over Central Africa, I watched a French movie and indulged myself enjoying every bit of the 'New spirit of Africa' by Ethiopian!