Musings on life in Ethiopia for a middle aged IT professional...or "Dilbert goes to Africa"

I will be working on a major upgrade to the Budget and Expenditures application for the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance during most of 2009 (I have been in Ethiopia since October, 2008). What follows are some somewhat random thoughts about life on a new continent.

Send me comments or feedback at JohnJeunnette (at)


I got to back to the US last week to speak at a conference and spend a couple days at home. Time at home is intense because there are a million things to do that I haven't been able to do when I'm ten thousand miles away but I really just want to hang out with my wife but this post is more about the trip back.

When every anyone goes to Europe or the US we ask "Is there anything I can bring back?"

Besides my usual collection of clothing and toiletries I had the following in my luggage by the time I got to Addis Ababa (I picked up a few things along the way):

  • one laptop computer
  • one motorcycle tire, black, size ... (this one was a bit of challenge because it didn't fit in any kind of normal luggage, see below).
  • two boxes of graham crackers
  • two packages of Double-Stuff Oreos
  • one jar of thyme (no parsley, sage, or rosemary, though)
  • one metric/English tape measure
  • one package of Gillette Mach3 Turbo razor cartridges
  • one Backpacker's Pantry Chicken and Dumplings dinner
  • six miscellaneous books
  • one set of metric ball-end allen wrenches
  • one Britta water filter pitcher
  • one HP USB Flash Drive, part number c325w
  • two ChapStick skin protection/sunscreen tubes
  • six rolls of clear packing tape
  • bubblewrap!
  • four color toner cartridges for a HP Color LaserJet 4650 printer for the office
  • one box of LaBrea Bakery turkey stuffing mix from Williams Sonoma for Thanksgiving dinner
  • one package of three filters for the Britta water pitcher
  • three Brother P-touch black print on white tape label cartridges
  • five packages of cup hooks
  • one three pound bag of fresh cranberries for Thanksgiving dinner
  • a "Christmas tree storage bag" - to hold the tire
  • thirty feet of rope to tie up the "Christmas tree tire bag" to hold the tire
  • one container of boric acid roach powder
Some of this stuff just does not exist in East Africa. Other things, like the toner cartridges, are "available" but are cheap copies and do not work as well as the real thing.

I got some strange looks from the airline personnel and had to unpack the whole thing for a grumpy TSA agent in Atlanta. Oh well. All but the Britta pitcher made the trip unscathed (some super glue will fix the pitcher, I hope...I wonder if I can find Super Glue here...).

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the US (or elsewhere if you plan to celebrate Thanksgiving next week).


Other Entries:
December 2009
   12/27/2009:   Snowboarding in Breckenridge
November 2009
   11/22/2009:   The Great Ethiopian Run, Take Two
   11/01/2009:   DV2011
September 2009
   9/27/2009:   Meskel
July 2009
   7/31/2009:   People
   7/12/2009:   Traffic
May 2009
   5/03/2009:   Bubble wrap quest
April 2009
   4/18/2009:   Options: Electricity
March 2009
   3/22/2009:   Italian Connection
   3/01/2009:   Blue Donkeys
February 2009
   2/14/2009:   Eucalyptus Trees
January 2009
   1/31/2009:   Story
   1/25/2009:   Security
   1/21/2009:   Obama and Lions
   1/13/2009:   Orienteering in Addis Ababa
   1/07/2009:   Merry Christmas and Goats
November 2008
   11/30/2008:   Ethiopian Road Construction
October 2008
   10/05/2008:   Ethiopia Introduction

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