“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” – Paul Newman (R.I.P.), Cool Hand Luke

3 Feb

Besides that quote, the only thing I remember from the movie Cool Hand Luke was the scene where he ate a ridiculous amount of hard boiled eggs (a vomit-worthy scene). However, I think the quote is directly applicable to so many situations here in Ethiopia. As with many things that happen, I find out after the fact, then am asked why I did not attend X event…well, that’s because no one told me. I know I’m white and should be omniscient/a mind reader in the eyes of most Habesha, but sadly, this is not the case. It’s frustrating and amusing at the same time….

In other news, my first, and presumably only visitors came over Christmas, being my parents (love you guys!!). Their visit was amazing and much needed. We spent a week in Ethiopia – they got to see my site and were warmly welcomed by my townsfolk. They got to experience multiple authentic coffee ceremonies, got to cut a large round loaf of bread (quite an honor!), were given the gift of gebis (traditional white shawls), and were even gursha’ed (hand-fed – a sign of love/respect). After spending Christmas in the Q, we headed to the religiously historical (historically religious?) site of Lalibela, which was totally worth the trip. It’s really an impressive place – google it for more info. After Lalibela, we drove to Gondar, which is again, an impressive/worthwhile jaunt (if you like castles and churches). Our last Ethio stop was in Addis before starting part deux of our trip. I spent my New Year’s Eve in Addis Ababa, watching R. Kelly perform @ the Sheraton (on TV). He’s gotten quite old and not so good at performing, but luckily he didn’t pee on the crowd. I was OK with doing nothing exciting to ring in the New Year, as it is not a widely celebrated event here…in fact, it’s almost the start of the 6th month of 2003. Different calendar, you know. It was really great to do touristy things in a comfortable manner – something I’m not usually able to do on a PC salary. So, many thanks to my parents for affording me the opportunity to see a few sites in Ethiopia!

Greetings from the Q!

New Year ’s Day, my parents and I headed to northern Tanzania for a wonderful 2-week safari vacation. We did the northern safari circuit, starting at a place called Ndarakwai, then went to Ngorogngoro Crater/Conservation Area, the Serengeti, and lastly a place called Lake Natron, then to Arusha. Being in Tanzania was incredible and I felt at home. I studied Kiswahili in college and spent a summer there a few years back…and it’s just a really awesome country, and a place where I could see myself living/working in the future. I have an affinity for the language/culture in general…and I actually understand and am able to speak Swahili! It’s somewhat poetic and lyrical sounding to the ears, unlike Tigrigna, when it’s sometimes hard to differentiate whether someone is speaking to you, or clearing phlegm out of their throat. My parents thoroughly enjoyed their time both in Ethiopia and in Tanzania, which is great, as I was really nervous about them coming here. That’s part of the beauty of travel though – most aspects are so new/interesting, that one does not have time to develop any sort of distaste for the culture.

It was so nice to go 2 weeks of my life without being called Farenji, China, or YOUUUUUUUUUUU. There is a farenji equivalent in Swahili, which is Mzungu, but that just sounds a bit more pleasing to my ears and doesn’t make me want to hit small children. When I got back Ethiopia, literally the second I stepped outside of the airport, my ears were tormented with the words, “Where are you go???” Ughhhhhhhh, really? Yes, really. Welcome home! And within just a few short minutes, I was called all of the aforementioned names…

While I was away on vacation, I missed Ethiopian Christmas, which is celebrated 2 weeks after the “regular” Christmas. However, I did make it back just in the nick of time for Timket, or Epiphany. It truly is a beautiful holiday – and a colorful one at that! All the priests in town don their fanciest robes and umbrellas and hit the town. Everyone gathers at a certain location with a pool of water, which is blessed by a priest, making it holy, then the water is dispersed among the crowd. Everyone goes a little nuts in the process of trying to get them some holy water. I was fortunate enough to have 2 large doses of it sprayed right in my face. So, for the time being, I am living sin-free. What a way to start the year!

Now that I’m back at site, it’s kind of nice to be home. I’ve been able to catch up on my computer TV watching – just finished some Glee and the latest season of Dexter. Both are addicting. If you ever have a few spare hours on your hands and want to do something real fun with your time, hand roast a kilo of coffee. Just do it. I did it for my dad as part of his Christmas gift…and I also got my hair did, with extensions and braids, the whole 9 yards. I sat for 3 hours on the dirt floor in a “Chaguri Bet” (hair house) to have it done. I thought it was extremely tacky/hilarious and it felt like I was wearing a helmet of hair on my head, but my Ethio friends loved it. Just living like the locals…Cultural integration.

I know I’m a bit tardy in my writing, but thank you so much to everyone who sent some holiday cheer my way…I really appreciate everyone’s kindness…it’s actually a bit overwhelming! But, at this point in life, few things are better than a block of velveeta cheese highly fortified with who knows how many preservatives…no refrigeration required! And again, I can’t thank my parents enough for globe trekking to come visit me…you two are truly amazing – and real troopers at that. As usual, let the good time rolls. I’ll try to update this thing more frequently.

As you know, pictures are worth 1000 (if not more) words, and say much more about my adventures than I do in this blog. If you’d like to see some pics from when my parents came, check out my shutterfly site: http://pioneerdaze.shutterfly.com . Enjoy!

And Happy New Year/Groundhog Day/Valentine’s Day/President’s Day/etc…

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