18 March 2008

not all those who wander are lost.

Mefloquin is a hell of a drug. Weird dream updates - Candace and I
were robbing a pastry shop and tried to hide in the bathroom, only to
be caught by another PCV who was working as a janitor. Candace had
one where we were at a buffet and started a fist fight with one
another over which variety of spring rolls to get. I also had one
about a team of cheese super heroes - you know, brie could change
shape, cheddar had knife powers, limburger had chemical warfare, and
mozzarella could be launched as a cannon. Then I had one about
shopping in Publix and buying out their stock of candy apples. Who
needs hallucinogenics?

So, at long last, I've started Amharic tutoring. Candace doesn't want
to learn to read and write, so we're doing separate classes. There
are 35 letters, each with seven forms, for a total of 245. Plus an
extra variation on 30 of the letters. And the widespread illiteracy
in this country is a mystery? This is like the early days of Arabic,
trying to sound out words like house and table. At least this is
following a more logical pattern - I haven't learned "United Nations"
yet but I can spell my colors.

On Friday afternoon, we did a training session with some commercial
sex workers. AfD put on a two day workshop for them, including family
planning, STIs, safe v. unsafe abortion, etc and we handled the HIV
and proper condom use section. I did my first condom demonstration in
Africa (well, besides during training), and not to be too culturally
observant/stereotypical, the Ethiopian penis model was significantly
darker than the Caucasian varieties I used in college. We had some of
the women practice afterwards, and at least one woman used her very
first condom. We had a great discussion with them about standing up
for their health in the face of reluctant partners. One woman's
husband had moved to another city but tried to come back to her for
sex. He refused to be tested, so she refused to put out. Damn
straight. For everyone who's never seen a condom or considered being
tested, there's another one who'll get riled up and launch into a
passionate defense of teaching children. Day-to-day frustrations
aside, that's why I'm here.

Then I remodeled my kitchen. My landlord wanted the kitchen cabinet
back, so I found a cheap table and bookshelf. Candace melted a hole
in my linoleum floor covering with a dutch oven our first week here,
so I also picked up some new stuff (Negash was very excited about my
replacing it on my own - he used to look at the hole in the floor with
disdain every time he was in my house). It took an hour to get the
old cabinet out of the house. I'm glad I passed high school geometry
- they were very impressed with my techniques of using the window
(wider than the walls) and turning the cabinet on end. He still
didn't trust me to measure and cut the linoleum, though - he looked
shocked every time the piece fit. Oh well. Now I have a shiny new
kitchen floor and a bigger countertop. We had to saw down the legs of
the table and take the door off the hinges to make it all happen, but
it's something to pass the time, right?

While attempting to remove the cabinet, Negash noticed the thyme on my
windowsill and asked, "Do you think that's a flower?" (he likes to
grow flowers outside). I tried to explain seasoning and herbs to him,
but he didn't believe that I really ate it. The basil was even more
confusing since it doesn't even have the sad little flowers thyme
does. He also doesn't understand why I would bother to bring
pineapples, zucchini, cucumbers, or broccoli (well, just that one
glorious time) back from Adama either - it's just a cultural aversion
to new fruits and vegetables.

Despite the missing rains, spring has sprung in Assela. Those famed
indigenous birds are chirping in greater number and there's a surplus
of baby animals running around. Mainly donkeys and goats, but also
the occasional kitten or puppy. I'm especially excited about the
birds - we have some crazy ones in town: electric blue finch-like
birds, mohawk-ed woodpeckers, and penguin-looking crows, to name a
few. To top it all off, my tortoise friend came back.

My compound temporarily adopted a cat last week. In a possibly
related incident, there are no longer rats living in my ceiling.
We're down to 38 volunteers in Ethiopia with two weeks until
in-service training. Easter's coming, which means all that delicious
Easter candy will be on sale in a few short days. I love Easter
candy.

A couple of photos from coffee roasting, plus my tortoise friend:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2480158&l=a6e98&id=2001205

Wishlist:
-Letters!!
-Cheddar goldfish crackers
-Sour cream and onion pringles
-Fritos
-Sour Jelly Bellys
-Those big marshmallow eggs with a thick sugary shell (not Peeps)
-Other rejected easter candy
-Twizzlers pull and peel
-Kraft mac and cheese
-Chocolate covered gummi bears
-Gummi anything
-Frosting
-Garlic salt
-Popcorn salt
-***SPF 15 body lotion
-Yarn
-Books

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