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February 5, 2014

Sweet Home

June 10, 2013

Selamno! (Hello!)

It's been a simultaneously wonderful and tough few days, but things are ok! I didn't have internet all weekend so I apologize for the lapse in communication.

I didn't realize it would be so hard to find a place to live that is affordable, safe, with other people, and close to the office. Are these requirements too demanding? The search has consumed all of my time!  But I think I've finally settled somewhere. Last night I moved out of the hotel and into the guest house in a compound with two other Americans. It's far from my office (the Addis definition of far - a 20 minute cab ride across town without traffic), so I just have to work out the commuting details. Otherwise, I'm really happy about it!

Some brief updates starting from where I left off. Cows being led to the slaughterhouse in the street during rush hour traffic on Friday:
Dinner out with Reetta and a group of her friends on Friday after work:
Injera with all sorts of beef.
Ambo - Ethiopia's version of seltzer
Out for drinks in the neighborhood called Bole (pronounced Bo-lay) after dinner:

This dinner/drinks turned into a night dancing at clubs until 5 am… or if you're lame like me, sitting on a stool watching people dance and struggling to stay awake, surviving a terrifying cab ride and then bursting into exhausted, overwhelmed tears when you get back to the hotel room haha. The silver lining though is that I finally saw some Ethiopians running! I guess 5 am is when the magic happens.

4 hours later, I woke up and navigated a series of minibuses to view a house on the other side of town. The commute went well until I got off the last minibus stop and realized I didn’t have my phone to call and ask for the remaining directions. There wasn’t enough time to go all the way back for my phone, so I decided that if I was meant to live in this house, destiny would lead me to it.

I know that sounds dramatic, but there aren’t street names or addresses in Addis. Every location is described as being near various landmarks. I knew from the ad that the house was 2 blocks from the Rwandan embassy, so I planned to at least get there, then maybe find an internet cafe to get the phone number from an email, and then maybe a pay phone to make the call.  I employed a kid to walk me almost two miles to the embassy, find me an internet cafe, a pen to write the number on my hand, and a phone to borrow (all of which I got very very lucky to find for just a few Birr!). Side note, this is birr. $1 = about 18 Birr.

Miraculously, I found the house and was only 20 minutes late to view it.

The house was the most beautiful place I have been in Ethiopia so far!

After the visit, I headed back to my old neighborhood for a much needed double macchiato!

Here's my nice new Ethiopian phone :P

On Saturday afternoon, I went to a BBQ with a group of people who also work at Save the Children. The hosts grilled veggies and kabobs!

We drank local beer:

And had a wonderful time! I made lots of new friends who also want to go on weekend adventures!

On Sunday, I wandered around for an hour trying to find internet. Already frustrated by not being able to get online in almost 2 days, I reached my threshold for being called to, children grabbing my arm with their hands out, and every bus full of people driving by turning their heads and yelling "ferengi, ferengi!" I took the minibuses to an expat cafe with internet on the other side of town. This place, called Lime Tree, serves hummus and salads and tofu and "American coffee." I will try not to go too often - only when I can't take the ferengi attention.

While I was there, Stephanie from the new house called and told me I could move in. It was destiny after all! I expected to feel nothing but overwhelming relief and happiness, but was surprised that I also felt guilty. Did I come to Ethiopia to live in a nice, safe, more expensive place with other Americans? Shouldn't I live somewhere cheaper and closer to work that will allow me to get a more Ethiopian experience? I sat at Lime Tree for 4 hours debating and waiting for people at home to wake up and weigh in. When I got a unanimous "live in the nicer place but stay connected with the reality," I went back to the hotel for my things, checked out, and moved across town.

I met more friends of friends back at Lime Tree for dinner, and then spent time getting to know my new compound-mates. I took an early cab to work to beat traffic this morning, and passed this along the the way ;)  Ha!

And then I was the only one in the office for the first 2 hours, so took the chance to blog!

Be back soon with more updates!

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