Monday, February 1, 2010

Trip to ET Day 5 and 6

Day 5 and 6 - So it’s 5am and I am wide awake. My good health was too good to be true. L The past 2 days I’d only eaten 2 meals. So Monday morning I ate some toast here at the hotel with marmalade. Their version of toast is actually quite good. I guess the closest thing I can compare it to is pizza dough. So I was feeling great and went to the University and met with the entire staff and they were all lovely and very accommodating. (they literally only have 2 antibiotics here … Oxytetracycline and Penicillin). I sent the e-mail/blog post that most of you likely read yesterday and honestly minutes after I sent it I started to break out in cold sweats. I immediately knew what was coming next b/c of my history of GI issues. I tried to quickly take 500mg of Ciprofloxacin and some Pfenegrin (spelling?) but that didn’t even touch the nausea and cramping. So thankfully I found a post graduate student who spoke very good English and he tried over and over to call the Dean but the cell reception at the school was very bad so we just started walking toward the road to try and find someone to take me back to the hotel. This is at around 11am and I was supposed to teach at 2:30pm. After what felt like an eternity we were able to flag down a driver to take me and the student rode with me to make sure I was okay. Once I got to my hotel room I started vomiting over and over. They came back to the hotel and picked me up at 2 o’clock in the hopes that I would be able to teach but the little activity it took to get to the University again made the nausea start all over and I began vomiting again. We think it had to be the marmalade b/c I have been very careful about eating/drinking and if I’m not sure about something I just don’t eat at all. I’d rather go hungry then be sick. So I fell asleep at around 3pm and now am wide awake but feeling MUCH better. I ate some applesauce and crackers I brought with me with a little peanut butter for protein and so far my stomach is really more sore then nauseous. The worst part is that I was so looking forward to teaching and some of the staff were going to take me downtown to celebrate the eve of Tim Kat (spelling?) which is the celebration of Jesus’ Baptism. The holiday is actually today so there is no school and hopefully the Dean will pick me up to go and see the celebrations. My biggest fear is being our among the masses and getting sick again. Then I will teach on Wednesday the classes that I was not able to cover.
I was able to call Michael the night I arrived in Mekele and I got the bill yesterday for $21.00! I don’t have a calling card yet but I was so lonesome I just had to call. That’s almost the price I’m paying to stay in the hotel per night. So no more phone calls for me until I get a better deal worked out.
Also a cool thing to mention is that I have been told several times that Ethiopians love Americans and love American culture. But what I didn’t expect to be asked is if I’m a Republican or a Democrat. Many of the Christians I have come across ask me this and when I saw I’m Republican they say, “me too!!” I love the Republicans! J When I ask them why they identify with the Republican party they just say b/c we are Christian. Which is think is really neat b/c I also sometimes don’t understand (not to sound judgmental or anything) how some Christians can support a man who is so in favor of abortion and doing everything in his power to make it cheaper and easier to get one. Now of course I also know of Christian Republicans who are in support of the death penalty which is hypocritical so I’m not trying to sound all high and mighty here but I just thought it was a neat experience to convey.
Another not so neat experience happened to me in the airport on the way to Mekele. I was reading a book called ‘Knowing the Enemy- Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror‘. In retrospect obviously not the best book to be reading in a country with a large Muslim population. Anyway…. So when we are waiting to board the plane a man comes up to me and says, “Excuse me but I couldn’t help but notice the book you are reading. Who is the enemy? Is it your personal enemy? What does this mean?” Now I’m thinking oh gosh, here we go. So I tell him that I have only read the first 10 pages so far and can’t really expound on the book much but from what I can tell so far it just addresses the beliefs of radical Islam and the textual interpretations their reasons for acts of terror stem from. I told him the reason I wanted to read the book is because some of my favorite people (my Somali family I volunteer with) are Muslim but their father was killed by radical Muslims and their brother lives with a severe mental handicap after being brutalized by them. Why would Muslims want to attack and kill other Muslims as seen in Sudan and Somalia? I tried to stress that I KNOW not all Muslims are violent but if Islam is a religion of peace then I wanted to know more to try and understand how they justify killing innocent people. Now of course this man spoke very broken English and I don’t know how much he understood. He just kept talking and talking to me and challenging me and I honestly couldn’t really understand what he was saying half the time. Then he said, “I am Egyptian. What to Americans think about Egyptians?” Well having read ‘Now The Call Me Infidel’ I wanted to say that my opinion of Egypt has diminished greatly, but I just told him I was unsure what other people thought but that I had a big problem with Egypt giving amnesty to Muslim governmental leaders responsible for acts of genocide such as Idi Amin. He then told me that I was wrong and that Egypt didn’t harbor these people. Thankfully it was my turn to go through the security check point so I was freed from this onslaught of questioning. I felt terrible b/c here I am with a great opportunity to represent America in a positive light and show that people want to understand Islam better so that we can find a way to peacefully co-exist but I lack the proper political and religious knowledge to support my stance. The entire time he was very polite and non-threatening just really genuinely curious. It was me that felt uncomfortable and inadequate as the United States civilian representative. After that I put the book up and haven’t taken it out again J I think I’ll read something a little less controversial next time.
Another interesting think I learned yesterday was that the “top job” in Ethiopia to have is a civil engineer. The Dean told me that it is a very competitive field. So I’m going to try and get some sleep now that I have “unloaded” and gotten stuff off of my mind. It all just seems to pile up in my brain with no one to talk to. I can totally see why Tom Hanks needed to create “Wilson” his volleyball friend in that movie ‘Cast Away‘. Just to have some way to drain the thoughts in your head.

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