[Note: This was written several weeks ago but not posted due to lack of internet access.]
First and foremost, yes, I broke my nose. Yes, it hurt. I’ll spare you the details, but just know that it involved food poisoning, an attempted but unsuccessful late night trip to the shint bet, and falling on my face.
On the bright side, I got a trip to Addis out of it. I’m just hanging out in my hotel room, enjoying the warm shower and solitude. A trip to South Africa is possible but unlikely.
The only down side is that I’m missing my host mother’s departure for a training course. She won’t be back by the time I leave for site. I’m going to miss her terribly. Our early morning goodbye as I left for the capital wasn’t sufficient. I’m going to have to come back to Huruta to visit.
But on to the good stuff (written before my little adventure)…
Since returning to Huruta after site visit, life has slowed down. We have our routines. Meal. Class. Tea break. Class. Meal. Class. Tea break. Class. Family time. Meal. Study (maybe). Sleep. Repeat. I throw a shower in every few days.
Every day Joanna, a friend and fellow PCT, tells me one reason why Ethiopia is great. These reasons range from the mundane (colorful birds) to the truly spectacular (breathtakingly beautiful scenery, especially the stars at night. Or as Joanna put it: “The stars. Holy shit.”). As a motivational tool, this exercise doesn’t work very well. But I appreciate the effort and thought I’d share some of her observations.
- “Dramas” at graduations. Ethiopians love their dramas. At an English language school graduation ceremony we attended, the students (mostly teenagers) put on an hour-long drama that included a mother’s death, a long-lost brother, an unplanned pregnancy, attempted murder, and HIV/AIDS. It was intense.
- “Only in Addis.” We use this phrase on a regular basis. Can you get sour cream in Ethiopia? Yes. But only in Addis. Sushi? Yes. But only in Addis.
- Beautiful waterfalls. Actually, all of the landscape surrounding Huruta is beautiful. Every morning on my walk to school I stop at my favorite vantage point and look out for a few minutes. It’s a necessary moment of solitude after the, er, attention I get on the walk.
- 50 birr bottles of gin. This is self-explanatory.
- Guy love. In Ethiopia, it is very common to see men holding hands as they stand or walk. It’s a sign of friendship. It’s also kind of hard to get used to as an American. I love it.
- “It is possible.” Another of our favorite phrases and a favorite form of indirect communication for our Ethiopian friends. Everything is possible, but that doesn’t make it likely to happen.
I’ll share more as we continue our trek in Ethiopia.
More about Huruta…
The children. God, the children. I’m sure most of you know that I’m not a huge fan of kids. On an individual basis, they can be great, but in general I don’t find them charming. Well, the kids in Huruta (and Ethiopia) love the Faranji (foreigners). They follow us, grab our hands or clothes, ask us our name, or scream “you, you, you!” and point. I’ve had a rock thrown at me. You know, out of love. It’s hard to get used to. Some of the PCTs are great with the kids. They stop and shake all the hands, maybe remember names. I put in my earbuds and walk fast.
On a more pleasant note, the Huruta clan celebrated the Fourth (on July 3rd) in style. We went on a hike to a nearby waterfall. Most of us ended up falling in a river, including me. Yes, there is video.
After the hike, we went to a friend’s house. The day before, we had ventured to the market to purchase fixings for a good old-fashioned American cookout. We found a meat grinder, and we ground some fresh beef. We ate burgers, French fries with ketchup and mustard, pasta salad, fruit salad, guacamole and salsa. Oh, and there was BBQ sauce. And beer. I read the Declaration of Independence (twice) from the pocket constitution/other-important-US-documents book I brought (thanks, mom!). We sang patriotic songs. We introduced water balloon toss to the locals.
It was one of the best Fourths I’ve celebrated. I know it was made much more special by being away from home in a foreign land. It was a day about love of country, not jingoism. It was about sharing our culture and reminding ourselves why, for different reasons, the US is special to each of us. It also was a lot about the food.
Speaking of food, here’s a list of things I crave on a constant basis:
- Cheese (In any form, real or fake. I’m talking about you, EZ cheez.)
- Black beans
- Mac & cheese
- Cheetos Puffs
- Crackers (Ritz Crackerfuls are delightful. Lalko, I love you.)
- Tuna and baby dill pickles
- Ranch dressing
- A good burger
- Decent pizza (this necessitates decent cheese)
- Assorted candy
Feel free to send any of the above items (along with a letter) or anything else you can think of to my new mailing address, which will take effect in a few short weeks (holy hell).
PO Box 1973
Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
Thanks to those who have sent stuff and those who plan to. I’m doing my best to get letters out. I’ve been trying to get envelopes but haven’t had much luck. Only in Addis? It is possible.