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February 5, 2014

Mostly Love



June 13, 2013

Somehow, I’ve officially been a resident of Addis Ababa for 11 days.  I’ve been filling up a journal with the day-to-day experiences but thought I would share some of the things I am loving and not loving as I get used to this crazy city.

Loving:

1. Friends – I’ve met some really cool people so far in Addis and connected with so many friends of friends. I’m just amazed at the network of people living and working here and everyone has been incredibly helpful and nice.

2. My house – my little guesthouse is adorable and definitely the place I feel safest in Addis outside of the office. Even though there was a 20-pound rat running around in the ceiling keeping me up with nightmares of it falling through and landing on me last night, I still love it. I'll do an official house post when I can get some pictures during daylight.

3. The juice – most restaurants and a lot of little stands along the road serve freshly squeezed orange, mango, avocado, or combination juices. There is no such thing as concentrated juice in Addis – it’s all fresh. Here was some OJ at lunch the other day:

OJ at Aba Guben

4. The bunas and macchiatos – oh man.

Tikur (dark) macchiato at Peach


5. Most of the food – I really like Ethiopian food even though it’s hard to get anything without beef during the non-fasting times. There isn't much chicken and I’ve heard that fish isn’t safe. There is a fasting period coming up though, which means there will be plenty of lentils for me! I’ve had many good non-Ethiopian meals too, like the veggie pizza at Aba Guben:

Veggie pizza at Aba Guben

6. The weather – rainy season hasn’t fully started yet, so right now it’s mostly sunny and 70s during the day, and low 50s at night. There is no humidity. It would be so perfect for running if only running outside was an option!

7. Learning a new language - Amaharic is quite a lot harder than Spanish, especially since I have a hard time remembering words unless I can see them written, but it's fun learning something new! Today someone asked me how I was in Amharic (Dena nish?) and I successfully answered (Dena, dena)!

Not Loving:

1. The internet, or lack thereof – I don’t have access to internet at home and have run into obstacle after obstacle trying to get it. That means that when I leave the office around 10 am east coast time, I’m out of touch for the rest of the day and hardly ever get to talk to anybody at home!  I’m getting used to it, but being disconnected is not productive or necessary. I had 45 emails to go through when I got to the office this morning.

2. Lack of food choices – since I haven’t had a kitchen since I arrived, I’ve been eating whatever I can get. At lunch, it’s been injera, pasta, or pizza. Dinner out has been injera or rice, and all other meals have been granola bars and dry cereal that I’ve had with me. Today I bought a loaf of brown bread at a German bakery near the office to snack on for breakfast:

Bread from Munch

And this afternoon we had cake to say farewell to an employee. :) I am definitely not getting enough protein or veggies though. I’m really missing my daily blueberries and leafy greens!

3. Walking home in the dark – my house is set back in neighborhoods, about 15 minutes from the main road. Not only do I get lost every single time, but at night it’s pretty scary. It’s dark and there aren’t many people around. As a ferengi with a backpack, I am an easy target for both people and the millions of wild dogs, donkeys and goats running around. The sun sets at 7 everyday so there’s barely enough time to do anything after work. I guess I will have to get used to cabbing!

4. Dealing with cash – I don't like carrying cash around with me in general. Here, I’m finding it tough to balance having enough in case something happens versus too much in case it gets stolen. Every time I want to buy something I have to calculate how much I have on me and what else I might need it for that day. It’s also challenging to find a functioning ATM, so I take out as much as I can when I do find one.

5. Being a ferengi – I know it’s said more as a fact than an insult, and I knew to expect it and that I shouldn’t let it get to me, but it does! Yesterday I had to leave work a few times for errands and the same kid saw me from down the street each time and came running to nudge me with an open hand. I tried all the words I can think of that I’ve been told to say “yellum, sorry, no, not today” and nothing worked. The third time, he yelled “f*** you!” at me! Rude!

I also hate bargaining, and have to do it for everything since being foreign makes everything twice as expensive.

6. Not running – Ethiopia is a land of runners, and I can’t run outside. It’s just not appropriate for a female ferengi. I’m planning to join a gym when I start working closer to my house, so will run on the treadmill there. On weekends, I hope to make trips out somewhere where it’s more acceptable to run.

7. The air – I feel like I’m exhaling exhaust. Addis has really bad traffic and all of the cars let out thick black clouds of exhaust. It hurts to breathe. I’ve heard there are some parks and spots outside the city where the air is nice and fresh. Must get there soon.

Unbelievably, I fly home just one month from today for Rachel K’s wedding! But I do have a total of 11 weeks left in Ethiopia. It’s strange how time can feel like it’s going by so slowly but all of a sudden it’s over. For the past couple years, I’ve wanted nothing more than to travel and do some work in a developing country, so now that the shock has (mostly) worn off, I’m (mostly) settled, and missing my friends and family has (almost) subsided into just a dull heartache, it’s time to get out and enjoy it before it’s all over!

Ciao!

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