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February 5, 2014

Staying Connected

June 16, 2013

I think I've decided that the next place I will live is Pittsburgh. It seems that wherever I go, sports teams have good luck! When I moved to Baltimore, the Ravens won the Super Bowl. As soon as I moved to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia won an improbable soccer game to guarantee them a spot in the World Cup qualifiers. So, to Pittsburgh I must go. :P

I'm not complaining - it's cool to be in a city full of screaming happy people! :)

In addition to the victory, my second weekend in Addis has been a nice combination of settling in, exploring new places, and seeing friends. First, my guesthouse is pretty much all set!

Here is my room:

View from the window:

Bathroom mirror :P


Living room:

The yard, my favorite part:

The path connecting my guesthouse and the main house:

The porch of the main house:

A kitty visitor:

It’s such a lovely place to live. All that’s missing is a roommate! Anyone want to move to Addis?

On Friday night, I bought groceries with high hopes to cook for the first time since leaving the U.S., but got seriously electrocuted by both the appliances. An electrician came and repaired the outlet, but I may be sticking to cold dinners for a while.

Post-electrocution, I tagged along with my compound-mate to an acquaintance’s house party. It was held at a gorgeous penthouse apartment on the top floor of the tallest building in our neighborhood.

Bole Road at night

People shot-gunned Budweiser and threw birr out the window to the street below.  ?

On Saturday morning, a potential roommate (turned friend, Rachel) came to visit the house and then we went to Lime Tree for macchiatos and fresh mango juice! I will never get enough of this juice. This glass was 28 Birr, or about $1.50.

Fresh mango juice at Lime Tree

I had plans to explore a new neighborhood with Reetta, so Rachel came along and we walked around the shops of Piazza. We stopped at the best juice bar in town for another juice. I don’t really know how I’ll go on without these after leaving Addis. This one was only 20 birr ($1), and had layers of avocado, papaya, and pineapple juice, finished with a squeeze of lime.

Avocado sounded weird to me, but it’s actually really sweet and creamy and adds so much flavor and nutrition to this drink!

Walking the crowded streets as a ferengi trying not to get pickpocketed is rather exhausting, so we took a buna break in the courtyard of the French Alliance.

Rachel and Reetta at the French Alliance
After recharging, we headed to a place called Ambassador Park, where people go to play ping pong outside, lounge, drink beer and eat ice cream. Props to Reetta for the knowing all the great Addis spots! I then took the minibus home and met some other friends at a housewarming party. I didn’t get any photos, but learned that U.S. embassy/consulate families get pretty sweet accommodations in Addis! ;)

We went from housewarming to another party to dancing at a bar – really fun day and night with virtually all of the friends I’ve made so far!

Today, I’ve had a very American day. I joined a gym near my house and RAN for the first time! The treadmill is all in kph, so I spent the entire time trying to figure out how fast and far I was going. It felt soooo good to run! The gym is in a hotel and has a view of some very nice, lush neighborhoods and the mountains. I then made my first fruit stand purchase – 2 mangos and a pineapple for $2 – and got my nails did to match our roses ;)

On the walk home, I passed dozens of people huddled around radios on the side of the road listening to the Ethiopia v. South Africa game. That, the multiple dead dogs I also passed, and these videos from my rides home from work keep me connected to the reality:

I wasn’t able to catch any cows or goats on the road, so this isn’t totally representative of a drive through Addis. :P

This report from an observation visit by the researchers on my project is also a reality check:

“I ask all of the neighbors at the gathering time about how most people have goiter. They told me a story of a bird and they said there is a bird around here called GERGERA and when she drinks the water and spits on it, then when people use that water they will have goiter. Once it gets into the family, it is contagious.”

Goiter is caused by an iodine deficiency and is completely avoidable by using iodized salt. This is just one example of the type of work we have to do.  :)

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