By Tiffany Abera
Goodness this day was busy! I went to bed last night around 6 p.m. I was so tired but I ended up waking up at 3:30 am. The guesthouse that I am staying at is fairly decent. It is like the Ethiopian version of Motel 6. That should explain everything. Last night they switched my room because
#1 It wasn’t clean. There were empty condom wrappers on the floor.
#2 Although the toilet flushed the shower was not hot. I need a hot shower. I can do with flushing with a bucket of water, sort of, but don’t let me take a cold shower when it’s already chilly outside.
So I switched rooms to the suite whatever that meant. The toilet didn’t flush and required a bucket of water to help coax it down the drain. My stomach was all upset which didn’t make for good flushing if you get my drift. There are mosquitos and many many flies that you can’t escape which I am not a fan of. I spent maybe 30 minutes attempting to kill the ones that were intruding in on my space. It proved to be useless as there was a window opened in the bathroom which allowed more to come in. I slept under the covers that night soaked in DEET Off spray.
Upon telling Eyob of my toilet troubles I again had to switch my room. The room has a functioning toilet, an even better hot shower, and the windows close! It might be a little stuffy but at least I can at least attempt to manage the amount of flying critters that intrude.
For breakfast I met up with Eyob at the restaurant down the street. We ate traditional tibs with injera and a Pepsi for me. I am still a little nervous about drinking the coffee not because of the coffee but because of the cups that are left out near the flies. I forgot to mention I came right at the end of the worst month for flies. Fantastic. We discussed more about my project and tried to narrow down the topic. Eyob has so many ideas, all good ones, for this project but too many ideas can be messy. I experienced the same feeling when I started my research projects last semester. There were so many possibilities that my topics became very broad when they needed to be very specific. I struggled to find a stopping place for all of my ideas and where I wanted to take my research, but when I did settle it felt reassuring that I had a solid direction for my papers. I am not perfect and I may never be but I have begun to realize that it is a huge learning process. I will continue to work with Eyob helping to select a more defined area before heading out to do my field work in Nazret.
From there we were off to the bank. That in itself is a cultural experience. In the States we get upset if we have to wait more than 15 minutes at the bank and even then we have the option to use the ATM. Here it is not uncommon to wait almost an hour just to take money out of your own account. And wait we most certainly did although not for that length of time. The lobby was crowded with people waiting for their numbers to be called. I stood outside for a bit to watch the people be people. I was even yelled at by a crazy gentlemen probably something to do with being saved or I’ll end up in eternal damnation. There was even a parade of sheep that passed by on the sidewalk! Again with the sheep. :0)
From the bank we were off to deliver papers which definitely took some time, but I got to see a lot of the city. A tiny portion of the slums, the parliament palace (in the same respect as our White House), the president’s mansion, and the Hilton and Sheraton Hotels all of which were surprisingly close together. There is a lot of construction happening everywhere here. Road construction. Building construction. Economy construction well to a certain degree and for a few people. While we were driving around so much we almost ran out of gas and trying to find a gas station let alone with actual gas was difficult. Can you imagine not finding a gas station nearby and when you do having there be no gas? I felt spoiled for having easy access to gas and even worse for complaining about the price.
We eventually met up with the Canadians mission volunteers that I met when I arrived and they followed us back to KVI. I was able to meet with an amazing woman who upon her trip to Ethiopia to adopt her daughter, who was also an orphan at KVI, knew that she had to do something for the street children here. She went back home and started an organization called Mothers for Ethiopia. They partner with and employ women in the slums to create jewelry which they then sell in Canada to provide food for the street children and other necessary supplies for children in rural schools. Today they carried school supplies (i.e. pens, pencils, notebooks, toys, shoes, clothes, tootbrushes, soap, etc) for 500 rural school children. All of the luggage that they drought was filled with supplies instead of their own clothes. One woman went to a store and counted 600 pairs of shoes. They literally had to shut down the store so they could box the shoes up for them. It was a sight to see the volunteers and orphans at KVI dive in with such ferocity. I was moved by their dedication to their mission.
After the boxes were all opened and the sorting began, a staff member and I took the taxi van to town so that I could get a cell phone and to buy cakes for the children at the orphanage donated by the Canadians.
#1 The taxi van: a van intended for 8-9 people to sit comfortably filled with possibly as little as 12 people depending on their size. The windows are all open to let in air as there is no AC and in which the dust and smog flies in and in to your mouth.
#2 My phone is like the old school Nokia brick that we all had as our first phone. It’s super retro/vintage as some hipster might say. It’s only good for making local calls/texts. If you want to chat with me you have to buy an African calling card. 😀 The struggle is alive and real.
Also, my luggage never arrived and we never got the call that they found it. Good thing I bought several days worth of clothes and the bare necessities. Sure wish I had my suitcase though…maybe tomorrow?