Can’t believe that today is my one year anniversary in Ethiopia!
A week and a half away from my one-year mark in Ethiopia, and I’m finally ready to show off my house : ) Keep in mind I’ve only lived here the last seven or so months…and yes, it did take me all seven months to purchase all of this furniture!
My beautiful entryway, complete with a rug and a darling flower pot given to me by Jackie…I killed the cilantro she had planted and am now trying my hand at grapes. Or weeds. I’ll let you know when I find out!
My lovely entryway, with a bench (an idea I stole from Amanda), a calendar, a plethora of scarves, and far too few shoes.
And now on to the living room…make sure to take off your shoes : ) I chose mattresses instead of chairs/couches because they are cheaper and they hold more overnight guests…I think nine is the most we’ve fit in here so far.
That question was rhetorical. But still, I don’t run. Which is probably why I decided to volunteer for the Hawassa Race instead of attempt the 7 km or 21 km half-marathon this past weekend.
We started at 6 am sharp and the half-marathon runners took off at 6:30. An hour later, it was time for the kid’s race.
They were my favourite group (especially the girls) because some got really into it…check out the face paint! We had them dance to warm up and then they took off with just as much enthusiasm as the adults had.
Half an hour later, the elites took off on their own half-marathon and you could tell these runners meant business. Real running shoes and race gear. They didn’t need us holding them back at the start, they had done this before.
Ethiopian holidays are all about getting the ferengi tipsy by noon and drunk before dinner. Not that I’m complaining, it just always leads to pretty memorable days. This Easter, filled with tej, tella, and arake, was no exception.
The morning was actually pretty normal; I got to sleep in for the first time in over a week because the roosters were cooking instead of crowing. Then I got to work on making the guacamole and tortillas to share with my compound family. I love them and wanted to help out with the meal…but I also had an alternative motive. I hate injera, so I figured if I made the tortillas, I could use those instead : ) Didn’t quite work out.
I brought the food over and everyone dug into their meal. Most of the women seemed pretty hesitant about trying the guac, which my landlord was fine with, because he loved it and ate most of it himself. But the tortillas were passed around and eaten plain, so once again I had a meal full of injera. I guess I can’t complain, it only happens on holidays, and they’re always so sweet to make me a meat-free meal. Easter’s was eggs, cooked carrots and green beans, and misir wot.
We got to hang out and talk for a couple of hours and I spent a lot of the time playing with their baby granddaughter who was enamored with my skin colour. Then it came time to put her down for a nap and it was universally agreed upon that everyone was going to take advantage of nap time.
I went home and continued working on the teaching materials I had started the day before (for the English Open Week at the Teacher’s College). Suddenly, it started to pour. And we’re not talking simply a heavy rain, it was like a monsoon. I looked up and noticed a heavy stream of water entering my room in one corner and a few minutes later, half my room was flooded.
Thanks to some buckets and towels, the situation was subdued, and after finding three more leaks, my landlord called a guy to look at the roof the following day. What was the agreed upon solution to the problem? Clean the gutters haha but the good news is, my house hasn’t leaked since, so I guess I’ll take it.
And then things got crazy with the English Open Week, followed by the Hawassa race that weekend – imagine 100 Peace Corps Volunteers, plus tons of NGO workers flooding an Ethiopian town for 48 hours. Crazy. But it was a ton of fun and I’ll try to find time to blog about it in the next few days : ) Until then, stay classy. And congrats Minnesota, for becoming the 12th state to legalize gay marriage. I’m proud of you!
I spent this past week in Wondo Genet planning our upcoming summer camp. Before the meeting, we knew the location…Wondo Genet University, and the dates…August 11-17. Looking at everything we’ve decided on since, I’d say we’re pretty set.
I’m co-leading three different session: The very first camp session, Journal Making, where we’ll talk about the importance of journaling and help the kids create their own journals for the purpose of camp. A session the following day that includes a Reader’s Theater, and we’ve narrowed down the book to either Where the Wild Things Are or The Lorax…either way, awesome. And then my final session on Gender Roles and the differences (and SIMILARITIES) between what men and women can do.
I have to say, I’m pretty excited…and in addition to these three sessions, I’ll also be up and on the soccer fields at 6 am every morning co-leading the morning sports (don’t worry, I laughed too). And I’m helping plan the final day’s activity, which will be a massive field day/Olympics/scavenger hunt…be jealous. Oh right, and did I mention I’m also a camp counselor? I’m only spending one night in the girls’ cabin, but I’ll be with my group every day! So basically, this camp will probably kill me. But if it doesn’t, it could very well be my favourite week in Peace Corps.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have officially joined the “Mouse in the House” Club. Apparently I joined two nights ago, but didn’t figure it out until the wee hours of this morning. Yes, yesterday I should have suspected something when I saw that my bread had been nibbled on, but this is Ethiopia…I thought it entirely plausible that I bought nibbled-on bread and just hadn’t noticed.
But when I heard the rustle of my garbage bag and the clinking of wine bottles at 3 am, I realized the truth…there was something in my kitchen. My investigation turned up a little mouse (thank God it wasn’t a rat!). After a couple rounds of hide-and-seek I trapped her under a pot.
At this point I called my boyfriend because I was more afraid of leaving my compound in the dark than I had been about catching the mouse in the first place. You see, the humanitarian in me wanted to set the mouse free. I didn’t want to keep her as a pet, mind you; I just couldn’t bring myself to kill her.
So off I went to set her free. Which was stupid – because she’s crafty. Very, very crafty indeed. I then went to the bathroom, and when I returned, I once again had a mouse in my house. This time I chased her out my door with a broom. It happened so fast I couldn’t get a good look, so I wasn’t certain if it was the same mouse or not…
I talked to current and past Peace Corps Volunteers before I joined, including a number who at the time called Ethiopia home. But despite all of those questions and answers, I still never could have prepared myself for what life here would really be like.
Enter some current volunteers who had the inspiration to create a Peace Corps Ethiopia Challenge so that friends and family back home could get a better grasp of what our lives are like here. I made some slight changes to better fit my life in Hawassa – because each site in Ethiopia is still wildly different from any other.
So if you want to take the time to walk in my shoes, here’s your shot. I don’t recommend that everyone (or maybe even anyone!) attempt everything listed in the challenge. They’ll make your life inconvenient and not always particularly pleasant. But some of the challenges will also be rewarding, so I dare you to give some of them a try.
The time frame of this challenge is one week. Some of the challenges will only happen once during that time, though you can repeat if it’s something you’d do more often. Others are activities that take place over the entire week. These are marked with a 1W.
Point values are assigned to each challenge item, depending on the difficulty. For 1W items, you may only get the points if you do the item for an entire week. I’ve been told that the maximum points you could possibly get are 770. If anyone actually accomplishes everything on this list within the one week my mind will absolutely be blown.
Even if you don’t get 770 points I’d still love to hear how you did. I know how tough this is…I live it every day of my life. But I don’t have a choice, short of returning home. You live in a place where these activities will be much more difficult to accomplish because you do have a choice. So it’s up to you, accept the challenge in its entirety or even a small slice or write me off as a girl who’s probably spent a little bit too much time living abroad…