Monkey’s, Pancakes, and Pictures

Feb 5th
I told a friend that lives in my town that I wanted to get my hair braided at the shop.

Well, I must say there are some similarities and differences with shops.

Things they had in common:
The shop was packed with people. All of the eyes were glued to the hair stylsits, waiting for them to hurry up and hoping they will be the next one to sit in the desired chair.
They love to get their hair done, my town (about 25,000 people) has more than 10 beauty shops and a bunch of barber shops
They use this time to gossip J
By the way when it rains, all the women with presses rush to put plastic bags on their hair…Apparently no matter wher ewe live, we will do anything to avoid messing up a fresh press!

Although they have a sink to wash your hair, they wont wash it. They wanted me to comb out my dry hair (Im wearing an Afro so that is not an easy thing to do). I ended up having my friend who took me to the shop help me pour water over my head so that it would be easier to comb
They use the old style method of having grease on the back of your hand and slapping it on the hair before pressing it, needless to say they burned my hair
They like SERIOUS bangs! They left the front of my hair out, and straightened it…and added a tightly curled bang. I accidentally deleted the pic L
Feb 11th
I went to Hawassa (where there are many monkeys). While, at a friends house, we heard a bang on the roof. They told me that meant the monkeys are here! So I ran outside and saw them playing. There were about 5 monkeys at my friend’s neighbors house (she is from Sweden). The monkeys were jumping on her trampoline! I started to walk towards them and take pictures. It was so cute! But, I looked them in the eye (which is apparently an aggressive move but I didn’t know it) and so one of them started looking at me But, I thought that I was just imagining things. Than it looked at me again and so did its friend. They started coming my way I screamed my heart out and turned away so fast! I surely, don’t want to be attacked by monkeys!

Feb 13th
I’ve been trying to make my own conditioner for my hair. At first I tried eggs and baby oil (I didn’t have olive oil at the time) it made my hair super hard! So than I bought a blender and tried avocado, honey, and bananas. But apparently I didn’t mix it well enough, it was super chunky. I went through a whole bucket of water trying to wash that mess out. But it would not come out! I ended up having to wait for it to dry and pick it out! Two days later and Im still picking that mess out!

Feb 15th

for the past 3 days, there have been a bunch of people at my house. I was wondering what was going on. On the first day, a group of women kept coming to my house, they were making tons of rolls of injera and cutting up loads of onions. Yesterday, they told me to come outside and eat. I was a bit cranky because I had just woken up and I didnt have time to get dressed or style my hair (you will see this in the pic below). But they told me to eat, and NOTHING will stop me from getting out of the bed to do that! Soon a bunch of people started coming over. I figured today must have been a holiday or something. So I played with the kids and taught them hand games (the kind that girls play when they are young). Today, the same thing happened. They woke me up, told me to come outside and eat. But, this time someone who spoke English was there. It was not a holiday. The family’s brother had passed away 6 months ago, and they were celebrating his life. He was in his 20s. I started to notice the pain in the family’s eyes behind their smiles, the tight hugs, and the quiet remarks that people would say in private and the familys responses to them. The community did not want the family to be alone and grieve on this day, therefore, people came to show respect and keep the family’s spirits high. And to also celebrate his life.

Feb 16th
My sister’s birthday!! J Happy birthday!!

Feb 18th
I went to Hawassa again, we went to the monkey park that also has a restaurant inside the park. A gang of monkeys surrounded a group of guys, trying to steal their food. The men kept throwing stuff at the monkeys to get them to go away. Not a good idea, I think that made them angry. So the monkeys planned a method of attack. Two climbed the trees above them , one went to the right side, another to the left side, and one stayed right in front. Their plan was to use some of the monkeys to distract the men and than have the others steal the food. But, after a few tense minutes the men got up and moved away (who wants to be surrounded by monkeys?). The other monkeys kept trying to steal people’s purses and anything else they could find. We decided to only order drinks so that they would leave us alone.

I went to a wonderful Italian restaurant while I was in town. The owner is an Ethiopian woman that went to Italy and studied how to cook. She than returned and opened up a restaurant. I was sooo excited to eat the lasagna (and it was delicious). But, because I haven’t had cheese in awhile my stomach was not ready to handle it! I took some anti acids before I got on the bus to head back home, hoping that would quite my stomach. No such luck. I took the seat that didn’t have any windows, my only other choices were to sit in an aisle seat where my butt would not be able to sit completely on the seat, or take the last row thats made for 4 but they will fit 6-7 people. I was really worried about my stomach, especially because I would be sitting somewhere where I could not open a window if need be. I told myself that I should be fine and that I was worrying for no reason. Well, I was wrong. As soon as I got on the bus and felt the bumps, I started to feel like I was going to lose my lunch! I kept trying to think of what I was going to do! I didn’t have a bag and couldn’t open a window! So I had to settle with a jacket that I had borrowed. As soon as I took that thing off, I threw up. It was not pretty, and it didn’t all make it in the jacket. It was all over my shirt, my pants, the floor, the seat…I don’t know how it got to all those places. Since I couldn’t throw it out the window, I had to than sit on the bus for the next hour and a half holding my throw up. It leaked from the jacket all over my jeans. By the time I got off the bus I was covered in throw up. The good news is it gave me plenty of room on the bus, they made sure to give me my elbow room.

Feb 20th
The best part about where I live are the kids. As soon as I step outside my door, a group of kids (ages 3-7) run full speed to me screaming “Good morning China!!!” (no matter what time of day it is) or “China, China, China!!!!”* It always puts a huge smile on my face! As soon as they reach me, they put out their hands for me to shake them. Some even give me big tight hugs around my legs. No matter what kind of day I am having, it puts a huge smile on my face to see them so happy to see me! One day they were even standing under a porch trying to stay dry and they saw me coming and ran through the rain to greet me! J I taught a few of them my name, so now our convos are:
Kids: “Bre-hanna! Bre-hanna!”
Me: Ah-bet (which is like saying yes? But its not rude)
Kids: “What is your name??”
Me: My name is Breanna
hahaha! it’s the cutest thing

*Note: The Chinese government has sent workers to build roads in Ethiopia. In most towns, they are the only foreigners that they see. So they (adults and children) associate people who are foreigners with Chinese people. Which is why they call me China. This isn’t just in my town, this is all over Ethiopia (except major cities).

February 21st
I taught my first English class today. I have 43 students ages 13-15 (8th grade class).
My class room setting: The school is made out of cement, It is an outdoors style school (meaning each classroom’s door leads outside, not to a hallway). The class has a small chalkboard, 4 students sit to one wooden desk (That would prob sit 2-3 in the states). I will make sure and take pictures later.
While sitting in the principal’s office, kids kept walking behind the office to peak at me in the office. It kept making me smile. It also helped to ease my nerves.
I was sooo nervous! I didnt know how much English they would know, I was scared that they wouldn’t even know how to say there ABC’s. I just had n oidea what I was walking into. So I decided to start with something that I knew in Amharic and in English. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to tell them directions too.

Fortunately, they knew a lot more than I thought.
I started off with an icebreaker called Peel the Banana. Its afun game that gets them on their feet and has them sing a chant while they dance to the beat. At the end you are encouraged to “Go Bananas” which basically means you jump around the classroom.

It went well! They understood the directions and were able to sing the osng with me.
I than introduced how I will grade them
Participation (including Attendance) 10%
Improvement 10%
Completion of HW/ Group Projects 40%
Exams (Quizzes/ Tests) 40%
After that I introduced myself, went over greetings (time specific, general, slang) and leave takings (brief, first time meeting someone)

It was stuff that they actually already knew, but I was not sure what I would be working with so I wanted to start with the basics. I than had them go around class and practice greeting each other based on the directions I gave them (it is morning, you are greeting a friend, etc)
I opened the floor to questions at the end…I got everything under the sun
Compare Ethiopia to California
Do you have a husband? Do you have a boyfriend?
Tell me about your family. (they are always shocked that I only have one sister and no brothers. Many of the households have 6-7 children)
What if your biography? (He meant where did your family come from what is
your origin)*
What foods do you like?
What do you like to do in your free time?
Why are you here?
How do you find Ethiopia? (What do you think of Ethiopia)
What do your parents do?
There were kids that were hanging outside of the window, trying to watch the class and see what I was doing. At first, I tried to get them to go away and teachers kept coming to chase them away. But eventually, I told them they could stay if they would be quiet. Word travels fast when a foreigner is on campus.

*Going back to the origin question, I get that a lot. Where are your parents from? Well where are your grandparents from? Well where is your family from? I get frustrated sometimes, because some of the people don’t always like the answer I give. I don’t know! Sometimes, I try and explain the history of African Americans in America and how some of us don’t know where we come from. Sometimes, I just leave it alone. Sometimes, I just smile. Im told I need to find my roots. Not sure how they suggest I do that. I just started saying that I feel like Im from all over and that there is a little bit of each country in me. But, they don’t always understand enough English to get that point.

I also made pancakes for the second time in my life! (Im a waffles kind of girl) pic below!

I just got a call from the post office! I have a package!! Happy Dance! Happy Dance!! Its like Christmas!! Thank you Calita!!! I love the package (esp the homemade chocolate!!!!) and the card!! 🙂 It just made a good day even better! 🙂

For your entertainment I have attached pics 🙂

  • There are pics of the different types of monkeys we saw (i love the ones with the white tails although they circled the men)
  • I was trying to take a pic of me standing next to the big birds but one of them flew in and scared the mess out of me!
  • kids are easily entertained here, they don’t need xboxes. To demonstrate I took a pic of boys dragging empty boxes  (it made me smile)
  • pics of my house (before the painting of the trees and after), if you look at the pic with the trees on the left you will see my propane stove, than my luggage, and lastly a bit of my bed. Im still working on getting furniture
  • my burned pancakes and the best syrup ever (it was my first time making pancakes! Im a waffle kind of girl)
  •  The guy on a horse was on his way to a wedding, he insisted that I take his pic (they decorate their horses when they go to weddings)
  • Kids at a school celebration they were having a gorsha competition (when you really care about someone, you feed them a big portion of food with your hands. It is called gorshaing)
  •  pic of a street in my town,
  • cute kids (everyone loves those)
  • a pic of me teaching kids how to play hand games (like ms mary mac) I had just woken up and found a bunch of people outside of my house (didnt know there was a celebration going on).
  • another pic of me drinking JUICE (if you look closely you will see they wrote Time Juice in frosting) it had strawberries, pineapple, oranges, mango. I was so excited that I didnt give him a chance to take a pic of what it originally looked like, you’re catching the end of the juice

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About bnw0404

I hope to use this blog to keep everyone updated on my Peace Corps journey from California to Ethiopia Disclaimer: The contents of this page, and all links appearing on this page, do not represent the positions, views or intents of the U.S. Government, or the United States Peace Corps.
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2 Responses to Monkey’s, Pancakes, and Pictures

  1. Bnw0404,
    I am a RPCV (Dominica 06-08), and I also worked as a PC recruiter during grad school. I am currently conducting agriculture research for an NGO in Ethiopia, with the intent of starting up a full scale project here. I would be very interested in speaking with a few current volunteers, particularly any serving near Jimma or Bahir Dar. You can contact me at tcm68(at)

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