05 June 2009

i've seen too much/i haven't seen enough.

I've officially set my COS (close of service) date for 15 November, which means I should be flying back to Orlando on or shortly after that day (in time for Thanksgiving!) - five and a half months left! Time flies... Start making party plans now. My only request is ungodly amounts of cheese and decent wine. I think I've lost interest in traveling after I finish (save perhaps a quick stopover in Europe) - it'll be the holidays, I'll have a ton of luggage, and I think I'll be pretty burnt out on traveling Africa-style - riding in 12 passenger vans with 20 other people.

In other news, we've submitted our application to fund the poultry farm, which is exciting. If all goes well, this could be up and running by late summer and wrapped up before I go home. That would make the rainy season feel more productive. On that note, the textbooks being brought in by the group of RPCVs, among others, are due to be shipped any day now and scheduled to arrive in Addis sometime in August. Also exciting!

Recently, I took the plunge and visited Christian Horizons in Assela, which already sounds like a poor match for me. They focus entirely on projects involving children (including "Christian & moral education," two adjectives which, in my experience, are often mutually exclusive), so this was definitely outside my comfort zone, but unlike the last time I volunteered my services to a faith-based organization (a Gainesville youth group that shall remain nameless), I wasn't brutally rebuffed. Christian education aside, they're also interested in HIV prevention and life skills, and having read much of the faith-based literature on the topics, I'd rather those lessons came from someone who believes in scientific, comprehensive education. Yes, I'm biased. Sue me. Abstinence is a personal choice, but I believe everyone has the right to accurate information regardless of their sexual behavior. Scare tactics only ensure that people are unsafe when they do decide to become sexually active. But I digress.

Among other things, CH runs 25 schools in the extremely rural, isolated areas of Arsi zone (an excellent project in and of itself) and are bringing in the teachers next week for a refresher training. Susie's doing English teaching methods and I'm doing HIV prevention/life skills training, using my own materials. I must say, I'm impressed thus far with the organization - I haven't been asked about my religious views and most of the staff are (Ethiopian) volunteers, which was refreshing after that girl's education project imploded last month at the prospect of teachers having to donate an hour a week of their time. I'm also working on some HIV-related English conversation materials. All in all, a positive experience with a religious organization.

On the topic of things surprisingly positive, I had my wallet stolen on the Jimma trip two weeks ago. We were some of the last people to leave the bar, so I assumed a staff member had probably picked it up at closing and wrote it off as a stupid mistake on my part. As luck would have it, one of the guys we were with is friends with the bar owner, who then spent a week tracking down my wallet. Successfully. It's in the mail on its way home! Not sure if the money's still there, but replacing a resident ID in Ethiopia requires filing a police report, so I'm just happy to avoid that probably-joyous experience. Naturally, Birhan called me shortly after I got the emails saying my credit cards were cancelled and new ones were on the way, but it's not like those were useful here anyway, so I'm just glad to get it back. A very nice, heartwarming moment for me.

While in Addis for Steph's goodbye party, we discovered Rodeo Addis, a restaurant run by an Ethiopian who lived in Texas for a few decades. They feature "The Best Frozen Margarita in Addis," (among a breathtaking six-page cocktail list) which is a bit of a misnomer since it's the only one, but it was still delicious. Took us forever to drink them since we haven't really had ice in 20 months. Apparently tooth resistance to cold is NOT like riding a bike. Later that week, I was at the in-service training for group 2 for a "permaculture/bio-intensive gardening" training. Our trainer was so excited about composting and double digging that now we are all too. Who'dve thought that a profound love for rotting leaves was contagious? Not sure if I'll be able to actually get a garden started, but I'm hoping Christian Horizons will be interested and Susie and Peter can see it through for me. Maybe I'll actually attempt to compost and grow things at home. He made it seem so easy! I suppose Peace Corps Volunteers can generally be expected to be saps for eco-friendly initiatives. Don't judge me.

Wishlist:
See 14 April Post
-Burned/bootleg AVI files of the following TV shows:
+Weeds - Season 4 & 5
+The Office (US) - Season 5, episodes 16-end (or any part of the UK Office)
+30 Rock - Season 3 & 4
-Man deodorant (sheer roll-on)
-Cheese in any form

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