Phuket: Time for another change in our itinerary!

At no point during this trip have we felt like we needed to stick to any sort of concrete schedule (airport days aside!), so when we cut the bottom half of Laos, we decided to do our second trip to Thailand in reverse: south to north.

We were going to start in Bangkok, make our way up through Ayutthaya to see some temples, move on to Sukhothai for yet more temples, then head to Chiang Rai for – you guessed it – another temple, before ending our trip in Chiang Mai for the Yi Peng and Loi Krathong festivals.

We knew each of these cities was going to be amazing, but let’s face it, at the end of a three-month journey, there’s only so much you’re still craving to see. So we decided to leave a few temples for the next time we find ourselves in Thailand and we began purchasing flights instead of bus tickets!

Of course, we still spent plenty of time in Bangkok, and we still popped up to be wowed by Ayutthaya’s sites, but after that, we decided to fly down to Phuket for a week before flying up to Chiang Mai.

Let me tell you – a week on a beach was exactly what we needed! Sunset after beautiful sunset…

Sunset 1

Sunset 2 And we couldn’t have picked a better beach for the week. We decided to bypass the craziness that is Patong Beach (Phuket’s main beach), choosing to head just south to the quieter Karon Beach.

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I moved to Ethiopia and all I got was evicted

Only in Ethiopia could these last 36 hours be considered typical. Yesterday, I went to school at 8:00 am, 30 minutes earlier than usual because my counterpart wanted me to experience the flag raising ceremony at the beginning of the school day. I figured sure, why not…that meant I’d be able to observe one of the very first classes of the day and I’d be finished with my day 40 minutes earlier. (I typically observe three classes each morning and then record them into my CENA in the afternoon – any more than that and I’d start mixing the lessons together!)

So I showed up bright and early only to find the area around the flag deserted and all the kids already in the classrooms. Odd, I’d thought, but it wasn’t the first time there was a time mix-up in Ethiopia. So I went off to find my counterpart only to learn that there would be no classes that day, instead, there was an all-day student meeting about conduct. Of course, I was invited to attend…but it would be conducted in Amharic, and let’s face it, I wasn’t excited by the prospect of playing “which five Amharic words will I understand today.”

So I decided to just be grateful for my unexpected day off. I stopped by my friend’s shop and we went out to brunch. We talked about long-distance relationships and her upcoming wedding (I know those of you back home in America will find this hard to believe, but it’s true!).

Then I went home and was promptly informed by my landlord that I was being evicted. Awesome. Apparently he had just gotten back from the Department of Education and they had refused to pay my electric bill – the contract between them was only for rent. If I’m being honest, I know my electric stove uses quite a bit of electricity, but to be fair, I asked my landlord before I started using it and he said it’d be fine. Turns out, it wasn’t fine. Guess I should buy a propane stove this weekend!

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And the adventure begins: Integration in a foreign community

I’ve lived in Ethiopia 79 days. Which is such a crazy thought. Sometimes I feel exactly the same as the day I left Minnesota, and other times I realize nothing in my life will ever be the same.

I’ve irreversibly changed in so many ways, many small, but some big. I might have fleas…or bed bugs, I can’t really tell and somehow I’m not concerned. I can kill a spider without crying. I almost, almost, look forward to my cold showers. I really have gotten used to constantly being dehydrated. I’m in a relationship for the first time since high school – and let’s face it, those relationships only barely counted anyway. I’ve realized that by coming here I won’t change the world, but I can have a huge impact in the lives of a few individuals.

That’s probably the biggest difference between when I left and now: I now know I can’t change the world. I had all these grandiose ideas about the good work I’d do here and the impact I could make, and I still plan on making an impact, just on a more personal level. I’m helping the girls in my compound with their English. I’m showing my community that there are ferengi interested in learning their language. I’m being friendly toward the street children without giving them handouts.

And over the next few weeks I’ll begin my projects in the schools. I have no idea what I’ll be doing in the primary schools, because I’m supposed to spend these first three months observing classes and learning what skills these teachers need the most help with. I plan on doing a lot of co-teaching over the next two years. But my role in the Teacher’s College is much more defined. Stories have been collected from nearby villages and are currently being translated into English. Once that’s finished I’ll help copyedit those stories and design the book. We’re also creating audio files for each of the stories and I’ll get to help bring those characters’ voices to life.

My goal for today and the rest of the week is simply to continue trying to integrate into my community. It’s harder than it sounds, especially since I live in a city with 160,000 inhabitants. But hey, I’ve forced myself to leave my house every day so far, and I feel like that’s something to be proud of.

My room is also starting to feel like a home, now that I’ve filled it with a bed, wardrobe, and kitchen cabinet. Now I just need to add a comforter and curtains and get to work on putting up the wall decorations. So I have plenty to do before the school year starts in September. I can’t believe that summer is already coming to a close, but here in Ethiopia, it’s the rainy season that’s ending. And with that ending, comes the heat, so really, my summer is just beginning, and with it, the beginning of this two-year adventure.

I’m officially the girl with the purple door.

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