Ghion Imperial Hotel
Addis Ababa
Feb 16th 1974.

Dear Folks,

                I'll be moving out of here tomorrow, and into the house shared by two other guys at work. Rent is $225 per month, which leaves me $125 a month living allowance, apart from my salary. I should get this month's remaining allowance Monday, which is just as well because I've only got $10 left from my advance, typically.

                I've been out to the bars and night-clubs every night except tonight, I'll give it a rest now until I've worked out my money properly. The night-life here is fabulous, and not really expensive as these places go. I’ve been in smart bars and really sleazy dives, all packed with beautiful Ethiopian girls who come and sit on your lap if you even smile at them. And sometimes if you don’t. So, I’ve had a bit of a rave-up this week, and now it’s going to be hard work for a while.

    The climate here is still lovely, and the people are the friendliest, politest people I’ve ever met. Unlike so many African countries, they don’t have an inferiority complex, or delusions of grandeur. They’re just quietly proud to be Ethiopian, and meet you on equal terms. Everyone here says it’s by far the best African country to be in.

    Unfortunately, though, I may not be here very long. My position is still undecided. I saw Dick Whittington, one of the big wheels from Houston in the week, and he said, in the way that the bosses from Geosource do, “We’ll see how ya makin’ out in a month. We never had a guy from outside before (?). If ya not with it by then, there’s no point in goin’ on.”

    Which is a hell of an ultimatum. Since everyone else in my job worked up from Technical Assistant, Junior to Senior Observer, to Party Manager, to Instrument Supervisor, it’s understandable, though Pat Tierney [London engineering manager] reckoned six months to get the hang of ComMand. So I guess it means I have to work six times as hard. I don’t know what’s going to happen. If I get through okay, I’ll be all over the place, I would think, and almost certainly in London by the end of the year. If I don’t, I might get sent out to work on a field crew, or maybe assigned to Somalia for two years. Things are fairly uncertain for everyone, there’s a big expansion and a lot of changes right now.

    I’ll almost certainly be flying out to eastern Ethiopia next week to look at the field-crew instruments for a couple of days, the rest is just hard graft. ComMand is a highly-complex computer system. Still, I know I’m back at Geosource. Work 48 hours non-stop, live it up for a few hours, snatch some sleep and back to work. I’m starting to feel normal again. I’ve written no letters since I wrote to you Tuesday, there just doesn’t seem to be time.

    The food here is great. The restaurant downstairs has 80 dishes to choose from, from all over the world beautifully served in silver dishes, and wine-waitresses in national costume. Food generally is cheap, except for imported stuff which is very expensive, but a whole fillet of beef, all seven or eight pounds of it, costs about $6.50, or about £1.50. Jewellery is also cheap, and very beautiful. All being well, I’ll bring some back.

    Sitting writing this, I can hear the cicadas chirping outside, and see the lights of the town (it’s 3 a.m.) against the rolling hills and mountains. There are lots of things from home I miss, of course, but it’s a great adventure, and I certainly couldn’t say I was homesick. That phone call from Pat [Tierney] was the best thing that ever happened to me.

    I’ve only been here a week, but already it feels like ages. I wonder if I’ll get fed up with it in a few months’ time. Anyway, must close now, work tomorrow. Love to all,