11 November 2008

start making a fool out of me.

"And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still
burns as bright: Tonight, we proved once more that the true
strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the
scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals:
democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope."

Watching Obama's victory speech, I've never been so proud to be an
American. I really hope his election makes it okay for liberals
to like America again. I'm tired of patriotism having to mean
support of the Iraq war and liberal meaning America-bashing.
Can't I love my country and also like diplomacy, healthcare, and
comprehensive sex education? I think so.

Last week I met with two of the contacts on this end for the
school improvement project with the organization of Ethiopians and
RPCVs in the States. Afterwards, we talked about some of the
cultural differences between Ethiopia and America (including, for
instance, how it's rude to point, stare, hit, or throw things at
people who look different....). My favorite was homosexuality
though - I said that in America, men don't really touch each other
unless they're a couple. They didn't get it, so I spelled it out
- holding hands with another man means you're a homosexual. They
gave me that pained, giggly, awkward look of school-aged boys when
you say the word "penis." Homosexuality is culturally taboo and
illegal (punishable by deportation in some cases) in Ethiopia, so
even the most liberated colleagues of mine are pretty squeamish
about the topic. During training last year, a volunteer asked how
gay male friends visiting would be received in Ethiopia - we all
decided that they're probably be uncomfortable with the level of
public displays of affection, but would otherwise be fine. Ahh,
irony. I really miss gay culture.

On the prison farm front, we've purchased our seeds, tools, and
selected a location for our water reservoir. Choosing said
location required two hours of what can only be described as
"wading" through mud. I couldn't make them understand that
although I applied for and won the grant, I have absolutely no
background in or knowledge about water storage or construction.
After this little adventure, we went for shay/bunna at Inspector
Deraje's house, where, as these things often go, the conversation
turned to religion. I tried a new diversionary tactic and said
that I believe in science (which is true). They seemed to like
the notion, although I see it as an obvious dodge - saying I
believe something that's not religion is a lot easier to hear than
saying I don't believe in god. Worth filing away for future
reference - pacifies the religious while allowing me to preserve
the integrity of my beliefs. Victory!

Tool shopping was almost as exciting - judging from everyone's
reaction, I get the impression that women don't usually hang out
at the hardware store. Especially white ones. I found a roll of
screen, which will make my planned fruit drying rack a much more
organized contraption (this, of course, assuming that the rain
stops and the sun returns). When I asked about the price of small
nails, I got a handful of them as a free gift. They also sold
compact fluorescent light bulbs, which warmed my green little
heart. Planting at the farm should have started, but since the
rainy season refuses to end, the entire field is mud. This is
also ruining the grain harvest - fields are flooding, so farmers
can't harvest. Between the delayed rains this year and now the
extension that's preventing new planting, this could be bad for
next year's food supplies.

-freeze dried mangoes
-original cheddar goldfish crackers
-non-refrigerated cheese products
-sourdough pretzel nuggets
-sour jelly bellys

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