- January 15
There is a room that’s connected to my room by a door. No one really lives there, but sometimes the landlord’s sons come sleep in the connecting room. Well at 3:00am I was stirred from my sleep. I hear a lot of people talking, but I try to keep my eyes closed. I hope that the noise will pass and that I will be able to fall back to sleep quickly. No such luck, I realize that the sons decided to come to the connecting room. They were yelling, screaming, and laughing. They were even talking about me, yelling things like Black America. I figure they will soon settle down, as it is late and I KNOW they couldn’t be so rude as to continue yelling at the top of their lungs when they know I am sleep and that I can hear everything through these mud walls. I can even hear the bugs outside, as the walls are so thin. But after 30 minutes of this I became extremely pissed. I yelled for them to be quiet…but they decided not to. They continued to talk and yell for an HOUR. Going back to sleep was no longer an option as I was now wide awake.
SO I devised a plan
I waited a half an hour after they got quiet, turned my computer on, cranked up the volume, and played the LOUDEST music I could find. I started with west coast gangsta rap…”Friday-Ice cube” and moved across the untied states. Making sure to play Lil Jon as he loves to hell. Who wants to wake up to “YEAAAHHH!!! OOKKKAAAYYY” hahahah!! But just to make sure they couldn’t sleep, I than proceeded to sing along at the top of my lungs! I’m pretty sure they wont want to sleep here anymore…Matter of fact, its been an hour and Im still going. I decided I wasn’t being a very good DJ and Im now playing something they know, some Ethiopian music. Don’t mess with my sleep!!
I have been meeting with another Peace Corps volunteer’s counterpart (the volunteer lives in my town and is in the health sector). He was able to introduce me to a couple of men that may be able to work as my counterpart. We also thought of an idea as a possible project with the rural Health Office. This office works with the people in the rural area, unfortunately they do not get any support/funding from NGOs. The volunteer’s counterpart took me to the rural Health Office and introduced me to the people who worked there. Its hard trying to meet with people that are in gov offices because they are never there and hey dont really speak English, so he translated for me. He than introduced me to a man that I hope will become my counterpart. My potential counterpart works in the Health Office, has an environmental background, and is trying to establish income generating activities. We are talking about making an income generating activity for people living with HIV/AIDs in the rural areas around my town. Some of them have formed an organization called Finding Sunshine. They meet once a month and give 5 burr to the selected members of that month. We’re talking about having them grow coffee trees and sell them to local farmers or bee keeping and sell the honey, to make a bigger profit. Not sure which one yet. WE also want to give them trainings about proper eating habits/gardening, so they can live a longer healthier life, and business training.
For the past few days I have been decorating my house. I will put up pics when I am finished but that may take awhile.
Progress of my house:
- When I first moved in I had brown, dirty concrete floors and a yellow wall tat had a few holes. Well, I was able to hire a man to mud two of the walls that had holes (the other sides don’t have holes). So than I had 2 yellow walls with brown at the bottom.
- I than bought a red and beige comforter to keep me warm at night. Right now I am sleeping on a cot, but they are building my bed frame now.
- The cold, dirty concrete started to bother me. I decided to get something to cover the floor. I took a kid with me and let him pick out which floor covering I should get (kind of like wall paper but they are made out of different materials). I ended up with a plastic silver floor (note to self don’t allow children to pick out anything). He was so excited, so I bought it. The only problem is I didnt know how big my room is. I asked her for a 4×5 meter and discovered my room is 5 1/2 x 6 m. So I had to come back and get more of the plastic stuff and duct tape them together so it wouldnt move. I now have silver floors with duct tape, a red comforter, and yellow walls with brown mud at some places.
- I couldn’t believe how tacky my room was becoming. So at this point, I figured I might as well go all in. I went to the store and bought a blue can of paint. I thought that may help match the silver floors, I proceeded to paint blue trees on the walls with the brown bottoms. Blue trees, silver floor, red comforter, yellow walls…sounds good to me!
Now I love my house! Everything has a story behind it and a reason for it being there. Im still working on the decorating. But, it is slowly coming along and feeling like my home.
When I was in the States, I took everything
for granted. Baths, sinks, food choices, the little things. I thought
I could take or leave America.
Every one would always talks about how great America is and I personally only saw the negative sides of America. The racism that still exists, the poverty that people live in, the deteriorating education system…the list goes on. But, coming here and seeing so many people want to go to the US and experiencing a different side of the world,has changed my outlook. I have come to appreciate the good aspects that the US has to offer. The fact that we are trying to get a universal health care, that we have access to higher education, high
school is required by law, we have mental institutions for those that need it (in ethiopia there is only one mental hospital in the entire country), we have non profit organization for just about anything where people can seek help, we have freedom to write things about the
government (here it is monitored), and we have access to better paying jobs.
Transportation in Ethiopia
The one thing I will not miss is transportation in Ethiopia.
Whenever I want to get out of town, at whatever time I feel like it, I head to the bus station as there is no schedule. If I am lucky, the bus is already full and I don’t have to wait long. Other times, I am not so lucky andf may have to wait as long as 2 hours for the bus to fill up and leave. After they cram as many people as they can on the bus, we take off! There are two different types of transportation: regular bus and the mini bus
They are made for 12 people but can fit as many as 30. It is best to get on these early so you are guaranteed a real seat. They will claim anything is a seat, if you can put your butt on it. People are not allowed to stand during long distances though, because there are traffic cops that pull buses over to make sure that every one has a “seat” which is not the same definition as what we think of having a seat is. Again, if you can put your butt on it, it is a seat. I will give them this, they are efficient at making sure all of the space is utilized.
Now mini buses are faster than the regular buses. Which depending on what you think, can be a good thing or bad thing. I personally don’t think of this as a good thing, Ethiopian bus drivers are risk takers! Most of the roads are only 2 lanes, and they love to pass other drivers. My first experience on a bus, I literally held the side of the seat in a death grip, if I was lighter I am sure my knuckles would have been white! I just remember watching as we went around a slower car, and noticing that there was a car coming towards us too fast for my comfort. Many of the drivers like to wait until the last possible second before they go back into the correct lane. Sometimes, they cant get back into the lane in time and so you end up with three cars side by side in a two lane road. I learned from that first ride, never to sit in front. It is better for my heart if I can not see what is going on.
There is also a tendency to close all of the windows, because they believe having the windows open will cause them to get sick. Let me tell you…living in the south, it is usually 80-90 degrees outside, so inside the bus it is even hotter, everyone doesn’t wear deodarant, so on top of sweating in places that I didn’t even know can sweat, I am also smelling people’s body odors. It is not an enjoyable experience. I usually try and get a window seat, but that will not stop people from trying to close the windows. Its crazy because TB is a common sickness here, and its one of the few that you can catch in the air (by someone coughing). Closing windows, only SPREADS it. One of the volutneers has freckles so Ethiopians always ask her what is wrong and what happened (they arent used to seeing freckles). She tells them that if she doesn’t have fresh air, she gets “spots” so they happily open it for her. I wish I had that excuse.
You never know who you will sit next to on the bus. It may be a farmer holding his chicken, a woman that is breast feeding, or an Ethiopian throwing up. Let me back track, there is nothing wrong with breast feeding in public; however, one of the volunteers was sitting next to a woman that was bresast feeding and was squirted by the milk. That is not ok! Another volutneer was sitting next to a woman that was breast feeding and she fell asleep before she put her breast away. Next thing you know her head is on his shoulder and her boob is on his chest. Not ok! No matter what, there is always an interesting story to tell when riding the bus.
I remember not to long ago, I was riding back from Addis with another volunteer and all of a sudden everyone began arguing. My languages skills weren’t good enough to pick up what they were saying, but I understood it was about the price (you don’t pay for the bus ride until the bus has left). We were on our way back to town and the majority of us had already paid our fare. Well an older gentleman and the guy who collects money began arguing, soon everyone joined in. This is what I imagine the conversation went like:
Older guy: “Im not paying that much!”
Money collector: “What! You will pay it or get off the bus!”
Than the money collector yells to the driver
Money collector: “HEY BOSS! We got a cheap one back here!”
Boss: “OO noooo, not up in here! NOT UP IN HERE!!”
The boss than stops the bus and gets ready to turn around and drop him off at the bus station. Me and the volunteer look at each other, our expressions say “What The Heck Is Going On!!!”
Bus riders: “pleeasseee keep going, its ok its ok! Old man just pay the boss!”
Next thing you know, the boss turns the bus back around and we are heading back in the right direction.
Than the older guy says something to the boss that he didn’t like, and he makes a uturn, and stops the bus…ready to head back to the bus station.
Bus riders beg and plead for him to turn back around and go to town…in my head they said something like ”Please booosss man pppplleeaassseee I got to get home, turn back around.”
He turns around again and starts to head towards town…but the older guy still wouldn’t pay and he makes another uturn. We literally kept driving the same 20 feet and making u turns.
To this day I am not sure what happened, but next thing you know the boss had enough and went back to the bus station. I just thought, “ cool, he’s going to kick him off and we’re going to head to town.”
No such luck! Next thing you know we ALL have to get off and find another ride.
I make a joke to the other volunteer that if this with our new ride Im calling Peace Corps and asking them to pick me up. Well, it was just my luck, it happened again! The new boss, pulled the bus over and made a uturn. But, fortunately, whatever they were arguing about they resolved it and he turned back around.
The other difficulty I have is that the road to my town is not paved, instead it has big rocks that make it extremely bumpy. I have literally hit my head on the top of the bus, several times. There are huge dips that make you feel as if the bus is tipping over, all around not my favorite experience.
I have begun to hang out with a group of Ethiopians my age every day. I pretty much make my own schedule and decide what Im going to do. I dont have to go to an office everyday. Today, I was asked to teach them how to do some American dances. I taught them how to do the bump, the prep, cabbage patch, tootsie roll, electric slide, and the bounce. Next time, Im going to bring my music and teach them how to dougie, cat daddy, walk it out, and any other random dances I can think of. 🙂 They were so serious, when they were trying to dance. Im going to have to take pictures next time. The boys liked the tootsie roll and the prep.
Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that was never colonized. In 1896, the Italians tried to colonize Ethiopia but were successfully driven out. But in the 1930s, with a new King of Italy, they decided to extract revenge. They were able to force themselves into the northern part of the country (the Italians had colonized Eriteria, a country that is on the northern border of Ethiopia). Eventually they made their way to the capital and gained control. They were able to occupy the country for 5 years (1936-1941). However, they did not have control of the entire country, they only occupied some of the big cities, and they were never able to set up a government. Emperor Haile Selassie was forced to flee to England. During this time of attack, Haile Selassie appealed to the League of Nations in 1935, delivering an address that made him a worldwide figure, and the 1935 Time magazine Man of the Year. In the speech he denounced Italy’s actions and criticized the world community for standing by. The international response to the Italian invasion was mixed. As stirring as Haile Selassie’s speech before the League of Nations was, his resolution for the world body to deny recognition of the Italian conquest was defeated. In addition, he was not granted a loan to finance a resistance movement. Mexico was the only country to strongly condemn Italy’s sovereignty over Ethiopia, respecting Ethiopian independence all throughout. Mexico was amongst only five nations which did not recognize Italy’s occupation, along with China, New Zealand, the Soviet Union, and The United States.] But three years later only Joseph Stalin’s USSR was officially recognizing Selassie, while the US government was considering to recognize the Italian Empire with Ethiopia included. But once the Italians entered into the World War II (and declared war against Britain, US, France), British Empire forces, together with patriot Ethiopian fighters, joined the war and helped to push the Italians out of Ethiopia and restore Haile Selassie to power.
Pictures will come soon!