10 January 2008

soberly, without regret.

Ethiopian Christmas came and went. After weeks without Ethiopian food
(read: happiness and independence), our digestive tracts were
ill-prepared for berbere reentry. Thankfully I'd already laid down
the no-meat clause, so I was able to avoid the kitfo (raw beef).
Unlike many of its western cousins, Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity
apparently has no qualms about alcohol. Tella (moonshine) is a huge
part of any holiday, and they take immense pleasure in pushing it on
firenji. I graduated from the University of Florida, so I can hold my
liquor, but that's only fun if it tastes palatable. Tella tastes (and
looks, for that matter) like unsweet tea (blasphemous in its own
right) spiked with cheap grain alcohol and a hint of vomit. After
Candace and I went home to lay down after the meal, my landlord
brought me my very own pitcher to drink later. Yum. During the
course of the meal, my landlord's visiting son stealthily took
pictures of Candace and I with his camera phone. Well, not so much
stealthily since he neglected to turn off the fake camera clicking
noise effect. It was a bit creepy. We started posing for them to
make the situation less awkward.

Speaking of creepy, the bajaj (glorified golf cart used for short
distance public transport) driver with whom we had the chair-transport
fight a few weeks ago apologized to Candace, gave her a free ride
home, and has now taken to offering more free rides and lunches.
Sadly, I wasn't with her for this little adventure, but the driver's
friend took a liking to Candace and gave her a Christmas card that
said "Merry Christmas I love you." They tried to take her to Adama on
Christmas morning. Not by bajaj, although I'm sure that would have
been an amusing twelve hour journey.

I also missed the afternoon where Candace's compound family fed lunch
to the village idiot (of the Jew blood sucking fame). Turns out, he
used to be a high school teacher in town and actually did his master's
degree in the States (hence explaining the shockingly good english).
He went crazy a few years back, and mental health facilities being
what they are here (truthfully, nonexistent), now just roams the
streets ranting and raving. The family fed him, but locked the kids
away first and threw him out as soon as he was finished. It's
heartbreaking to see the fate of the mentally ill here, but the man
still scares the crap out of me( and Candace's family encouraged us to
avoid him), so I'll continue avoiding him at all costs.

Tuesday was a slow day of gastrointestinal recovery, but the laziness
did enable me to finish five books. I'm never trying heroin after
Naked Lunch. I probably wasn't ever going to try it, given my fiscal
conservatism and lack of knowledge as to how to obtain it, but now I'm
even more resolved. Yikes. Entertaining read, though. I recommend
Elliot Smith for the background soundtrack.

I finally started running here. Well, intervals of downhill jogging
interspersed with uphill power walking. There's no oxygen here, so
this'll be a slow acclimation process. Anyone wants to race when I
get back, just say the word. But, it turns out that me running is
even more exciting than me carrying a chicken through the streets of
Assela. Kids chasing me, crowds of men applauding as I ran by
(probably having more to do with the shortcomings of my sports bra
than my athletic prowess), and the usual shouts of firenji and
nonsensical english phrases as I run past. It certainly encourages me
to go faster, but also makes me want to carry (and use frequently)
pepper spray or just a large stick. Still waiting for the day when I
can walk down the street and be treated like a person by a majority of
people. Or just a statistically significant small percentage. I'll
take what I can get. At some point the sight of me has to get old,
right?

John, the dog at Candace's compound, is now squarely in our corner and
ready to viciously defend us. Not sure the dog is capable of being
vicious, but he'd try for us. Candace bought some beef for Mexican
night (well, as Mexican as tortillas and empanadas can be without
cheese) over the weekend and gave a few scraps to the dog. He now
waits patiently outside the door, wagging his tail with a sad
expression on his face, whenever we're both there for dinner, since he
knows we're probably making something good. The family finds it
ridiculous that we not only feed the dog, we also talk to him. Often,
and in the "good dog" baby voice. He's golden and fluffy with big
brown puppy-dog eyes. How could we not?

I had a nostalgic afternoon reading through these old entries while
recovering from Christmas on Tuesday, and found a handful of
embarrassing spelling and grammatical errors. For shame. Forgive me!

I'm still not working...my counterpart appears to have gone MIA. I'm
about to stroll into the local NGOs and volunteer my services. Gizaw,
our pick-up driving friend at the Alliance for Development, already
wants to bring me next time he goes out into the rural areas with the
family planning outreach counselors. That's precisely the sort of
thing I want to be doing anyway, so I'm going as soon as he gets back
from Addis. There's an FGAE branch here too, so I'll probably just
stick my head in, introduce myself, and see what sort of excitement
they have going on there.

On Wednesday, I'm going to visit Sinead in sunny Welenchiti (pop.
5,000) for some sort of "carnival." I suppose kettle corn and candy
apples are probably too much to hope for in a town where you can only
get carrots on market day, but I'm sure the event will be absurd, as
always.

Seems the mailman quit working for a few days, but when he finally
came back, it was an exciting day. Mary and Mike, you two are
fabulous and the Sharrow family Christmas card cracks me up. Dad,
your pre-Christmas box made it, and mom, the two missing boxes finally
arrived as well. Leah and Cassie, got your Christmas cards too. Love
you all!

Jenna got pictures up on photobucket.com. The link should be on the
side panel, but if not, go to the website and search for
"jessinethiopia" and that should bring you to the main album page.
There are plenty, so enjoy yourselves! I'm also trying to get a few
on facebook, but no promises.

Wishlist:
-Books (Justine, Marquis de Sade [don't judge, we watched Quills
recently], any novel by Mark Leyner)
-Yarn
-Sticky tack
-Trivial Pursuit
-Cheddar goldfish crackers
-Sour cream and onion Pringles
-Kraft mac and cheese
-Cream of tarter (snickerdoodles, anyone?)
-Gummi anything
-Hershey's cookies and cream chocolate bars
-Non-refrigerated cheese products (anything!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the pictures!
mom