21 September 2012

three awesome things that just happened

I'll talk about it more at some point, but sometimes it's really hard to get over the anxiety that keeps me from leaving my compound and going out into the wild world of Ethiopia. At other times, it's downright impossible. But just about every time, something happens that forces me into a "what the hell was I so worried about" moment.

Today, I kept putting off going out into town for a document printing mission. It's a much taller task than you can possibly imagine. I finally pulled my boots on and went at it toward the later part of the day.

Immediately upon exiting my compound, the group of kids that always runs up to shake my hand or lay down a fist bump, double in size of the normal crew, ran straight at me, excited as could be. I gave an "exploding fist bump" to each, and each resulted in an explosion of kiddy laughter. When I turned the corner, I could hear them all fist bumping each other, pairing it with the "Ptschhh" explosion sound I introduced. Everyone in sight lit up with smiles and laughter.

One dusty block later, I turned downhill to head toward the market area. There were plenty of "selam noew" greetings, but the real kicker was the shoutout I got from a gari driver. A gari is essentially a two-wheeled, horse-drawn cart that totes people and lots of stuff around town, a very common method in the more rural areas and smaller towns of Ethiopia. The driver, who I recognize from nowhere, shouted out, "Hey Mr. Joe! Where you go!?"

With my day already made twice, I returned from a small but mostly successful trek, sans printed documents (see, I told you it was a lot harder than you might think), to be called over by one of the local "kiosk suk" operators. He was talking with two of his friends and wanted me to join the conversation. I didn't quite feel like it, but seeing as I was in such a good mood, I couldn't say no. I came over to appease, and he gave me a free pack of "Hip Hop" chocolate wafer cookies.

Sometimes being here is too awesome for its own good.

12 September 2012

first day of school

All of the usual suspects were in attendance. Nervousness. Excitement. Uncertainty. Anticipation. Curiosity. I gathered all of my books, gathered my pens, prepared a thermos full of coffee, and donned my best sweater-and-button-down combo for the occasion. I stepped out the steel door of my 10’ x 10’ home and walked down the long pathway toward the aluminum gate to my compound. The +/- 0.5 mile walk through an intensifying downpour was chock full of a bouquet of the noted emotions. It’s been quite a while since I went about my “first day” in a new profession, and even longer since my last “first day of school.”

11 September 2012

happy new year! melkam addis amet!

You’ve probably heard of Chinese New Year. You may even know that Rosh Hashanah marks the passing of another year on the Jewish calendar. And seeing as we’re nearing our apocalyptic end in 2012, you’re likely well aware that the Mayans publish a different calendar every year featuring their hunkiest of tribesman. But did you know that Ethiopia follows an entirely different calendar than the rest of the world? It was news to me, too, and that’s just where the fun begins.

10 September 2012

handle with care

I originally drew up this post as a guide for friends and family interested in sending care packages my way. It seems to get a good bit of traffic, which makes me think folks are looking to it as a resource, so I've tailored it a bit so that it can act as more of a general guide. While some of my advice may seem over the top, I can attest that I had few problems with care packages making it my way.