09 September 2008

you've changed so much but it's still you.

Happy Ethiopian New Year (11 September)! Party like it's 2001.

Last week I met with the women at the prison. Gender inequalities
persist right down to the penal system. Their compound was
haphazardly built and lacking most of the facilities that the men have
(like tables and chairs). We had our session in a glorified barn -
one real wall, the rest more of a stick fence - with most of the women
crouching on the dirt floor, breast feeding children to keep them
quiet. Conditions aside, they were just as polite and grateful as the
men, perhaps more so. Especially when we talked about how part of the
reason women are at higher risk for sexual transmission is that they
have very little control over their sexual decisions. It's one of
those things everyone knows but few actually say. My translator even
did a little double take when I said it. This remains one of the most
rewarding projects I've ever undertaken.

The following day, while back on the men's side, I stumbled across a
"Government and Civics" textbook. I only made it through the first
few pages discussing the rule of law and origins of democracy, but I
was thoroughly intrigued. I was just about to get into the
independent judiciary section when my class arrived. Pity. If I find
it again, I'm tracking down the teacher and offering my services.

23 November: The Great Ethiopian Run. Most all of the PCVs not
traveling then will be huffing and puffing our way through a 10K at
8500 feet. I think the altitude is getting to us.

Living here is turning me into a total sap. I find myself misty eyed
at every corny romantic comedy I watch. Even ones by the Farrelly
brothers. For shame.

I watched the documentary "Jesus Camp." Horrified, traumatized, and
nauseous don't even begin to cover it. I honestly had to stop it and
walk away several times. Bad flashbacks to that <a
href="http://www.new.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2351095&l=b18d7&id=2001205">website</a>
I found last year. Fortunately, Harry Potter 6 and Richard Dawkins
arrived the following day, so I have more than 1000 pages of blasphemy
in which to drown myself. I threw in Fear and Loathing too, just for
good measure. I'm immensely proud to be the "enemy."

Obama...Biden 2008? Not my first choice, but hey, go Dems. Figures
the Republicans would once again (potentially) have the first woman in
an important position.

I made donuts, guava jelly, homemade ravioli, and my first layered
cake recently. FYI, donut recipes have a high yield and the "jelly
stage" takes quite some time to reach. Fortunately, it wasn't like I
had plans for any of those evenings.

Nick, Will (and Illana - love the cookbook!), Caitlin, Candace, and
Jason/Julie, thanks for making my week. I may not feel nostalgic for
icy showers and muddy roads when I'm home again, but I'll miss the
excitement of opening a mailbox to more than bills and junk mail.
Speaking of junk mail, kudos to those political staffers who bother to
send ads to the international absentee addresses. I don't now nor do
I ever intend again to live in Orange County, so I won't be voting in
the local elections, but I do appreciate the thought.

Wishlist:
-mac and cheese
-freeze dried mangoes
-Gillette Venus razor refills
-original cheddar goldfish crackers
-instant broccoli cheddar soup mix
-non-refrigerated cheese products
-dried seasonings
-gummi Lifesavers
-sour jelly bellys
-yarn
-books

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