June 20, 2013
During my first two weeks in Addis, I didn't notice any real differences due to altitude other than dryer air and being absurdly winded after walking the stairs to my third floor office. However, I discovered in the past couple days that two of my favorite things, running and baking, require some significant changes up here at 8000 feet.
My first run felt fine because I went incredibly slow as a first run back/first exercise at altitude precaution. The next day, I sped right up to my normal pace and tried to run 5 miles. I quickly learned that I am not in fact immune to altitude changes. I really struggled to finish the 5 miles. I was slightly nauseous and had heart palpitations for the rest of the night. I took yesterday off and am feeling fine again (minus some unrelated minor stomach issues), but am definitely going to run slower or shorter as my body adapts to less oxygen.
Another thing that requires an adjustment is baking. I had some bananas and carrots to use up, so spent a while researching recipes and altitude baking tips. Apparently water boils at a different temperature and affects the setting of the gluten and such, so you need more liquid and less leavening. I finally settled on this recipe for Carrot Banana Bread to use as a base for my first baking experiment.
Buying the ingredients was interesting. All I could find for "sweet" spices was this mixed spice:
|Mystery "mixed" spice that smelled similar to allspice.|
Eggs are sold individually and it took me 3 different stores to find these!
I followed the recipe loosely, substituting a couple ingredients and using less sugar because of the bananas.
|Bananas in Ethiopia are half the size of U.S. bananas.|
A bowl full of Vitamin A :D
As a result of the altitude differences, very loose following of the recipe, and an unknown oven temp (celsius), I fully expected this bread to be horrible - to not rise, to not cook evenly, to burn, to be too dry, or to taste bad.
Surprisingly, none of those things happened!
I ended up with a goregous loaf of carrot banana bread!
I had a couple warm slices topped with local creamed honey and it was delextables.
First altitude baking = a success! It was definitely beginner's luck though, we'll see how the next experiment turns out.
Lastly, I made my first souvenir purchase: a traditional hand spun cotton blanket!
It was a little pricey, but I needed a warm blanket and wanted something nice that I could bring home as a gift. :)