Monday, February 1, 2010

trip to ET Day 7

Day 7 - I’ve been in Africa for a week already. In some ways if feels longer then that and in some ways it feels like I just got here. So yesterday I was feeling a bit better and I really wanted to experience Tim Kat so I called up on of the professors and he sent a car to come pick me up to meet them to see the celebration. It was amazing! If you’ve ever seen pictures of the priests at Lalibela with their heavily decorated umbrellas and robes leading a procession then you know what I’m talking about. Honestly it reminded me a lot of Mardi Gras. EVERYONE heads downtown to first meet at one of the large churches and then they parade downtown into the piazza where they sing their prayers and celebrate. What was so neat to witness is how the different tribes and zones w/in those tribes celebrate. They each wear different traditional garments, some sing and dance, some beat huge drums, some have these really long sticks that they tap on the ground and dance with.. I LOVED it! I got some video on my camera so hopefully I’ll be able to post that when I get home. There were also some decorated horses. The kids wear either traditional muslin clothes or suits and ties and wear visors embroidered with the date and location of the celebration. Some wear little make shift crowns. They also have sashes that say Ethiopia and are like the ET flag and carry these large wooden sticks that are wrapped with thread in the colors of the ET flag. I wanted to buy a sash and stick for Ezra but the guy I was with didn’t know where to guy one and said I may be able to find them in Axum L Then after the groups celebrate together they break up and each goes their separate ways to their own church where the celebration continues. We saw some of the procession from the street then went to the balcony of a hotel (much like you would on Bourbon Street) and watched the rest from there. I hoped that they guys would bring me along for more celebrating but they just dropped me off at my hotel. I was trying to find something to do so I walked the grounds of the Castle compound a bit and then just came back to my room and watched movies. Again I was left all alone w/ no idea of where to go or where I could get some safe food so again I went hungry. I am STARVING! I like this hotel b/c it’s sort of out of the way and everyone is very nice but no one really speaks English so it’s not like I can just ask for directions or just walk somewhere. I’m trying to ration my food (cereal bars and cheese crackers) I brought since I still have over a week left here. I’m supposed to teach today at 2:30pm so until then I’m on my own again. Then tomorrow I teach again and Friday I’m on my own but Sat. and Sunday the Dean is supposed to take me to see some of the famous rock churches and sights of Mekele. So I guess I just have to look forward to being bored out of my mind for a while. I would hire a tour guide but that costs so much money. I hear there’s this depression where it’s like a sea of salt near here that’s supposed to be really amazing and at least I’d know that would take up most of the day so it would give me something to do. I can’t really complain b/c everyone here is busy working and teaching but I really feel left out to dry ya know. The 3 things I’m craving the most are salad, fruit, and chocolate J And of course my boys!!! I’m soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo lonesome. With so much downtime I can’t help but wish I was at home or that they were here with me. Everytime I start the remotely think of home I have to just immediately push that thought out of my head or I’ll start crying. Don’t get me wrong I love Africa but I miss my family and being able to eat things without worrying about getting sick. Today I feel great though I so far I have no residual abdominal pain so that’s good. In retrospect I wish I’d brought some beef jerky, dried fruit, fruit leather, and an electric one cup tea pot or something that could boil enough water to make easy mac or oatmeal.
Also a funny thing is that I have started to do the inspiratory sound that people here do to signify “yes”, or “ah I see”. I only noticed that I did it after one of the professors pointed it out. He was like… how long have you been here? Do you speak Amharic? Then I realized that I guess since I have picked up on a lot of words and their mannerisms and greetings that I’m doing pretty good. J No one in Mekele has come up to me begging for money! I mean in Addis you can’t go 100 feet w/o having someone put their hand out or follow you for money. So I think I’m going to look into my travel book and try to fill some of my down time so that I don’t spend this whole week in my room re watching Harry Potter over and over.

Day 7 afternoon - so teaching today went really well. I taught over 100 students and they seemed to be receptive but I had to cram like 6 power points into 3 ½ hours with no break. YIKES. Tomorrow I teach the professors which should be interesting and hopefully not too embarrassing. The Dean recommended that I eat some bean paste type stuff for lunch with bread and that I would be fine to eat it. It wasn’t bad but I did start to feel sick after a few minutes. Luckily I only ate a little bit of it and so far I’m doing pretty okay. I won’t be able to eat supper though since I don’t want it to get worse so that means in the past 3 days I’ve eaten 2 times I think. I met a really nice guy at the vet school that is an anatomy technician. He only graduated in 2008 and is already a lecturer, b/c they are in such dire need of teachers. He showed me their anatomy lab and the parasitology lab. They are VERY nice! Much better then what I expected honestly. I didn’t get to see the surgical suites b/c they were locked unfortunately. He has been the only person to offer to show me around the school. The reception here honestly was not what I’d expected.
On the way home from the university today I saw a lady that I met at the airport in Washington D.C on the street in Mekele! I always think it’s cool when you run into someone like that.
Mekele is really neat visually b/c it’s so mountainous and there are all these homes built into the hills with stone. There are also amazing birds here. They have the most vibrant colors. The finches are bring blue/red/and black. The only down side is that they are REALLY loud in the morning. When the prayers start so do the birds. Also in my hotel room there is a pipe that travels from the next rooms bathroom to mine and any “sounds” are like enhanced through the opening from the pipe. Well this am I was between awake and asleep and I heard this really strange noise come from my bathroom so when I went to check it out I heard a lot more “noises” and realized it was someone with obvious gastric issues J Glad to see I’m not the only one who gets sick here. On the way home from the school I saw 2 little boys doing their homework on the side of the road using big rocks to hold down their pages onto the road. I just keep wondering if they don’t have a table to do their homework or do they not have a house or is it too dark inside to see? I also saw 2 little boys today probably 6 and 7 scavenging for food wearing only long t-shirts and no shoes or shorts. So sad! Here there are almost no street kids though as compared to Addis. The university schedule is totally fluid. Many students don’t know about the location or time of a class until the day before. Also their coffee/tea break is from 10:30-12:00 and lunch is from 12:30-2:30! Not bad right J

Okay so this JUST happened to me. The anatomy tech. just randomly showed up at my hotel. I told him where I was staying and I guess he found out my room number and came by for a visit at like 7pm.. So I’m in my PJ’s ready for bed really but I invite him in and we’re making small talk. The out of no where he asks me, “are you making the exercise?” I’m like what do you mean… then he said, “your body it is too big, it is unhealthy for you.” WOW, okay, not expected. So I initially wanted to tell him that that’s not okay to say and that I am obviously AWARE of my body size and know it’s unhealthy. They he asks me , “is something wrong with you?” Wow way to really dig the knife in my back right. Of course he means well and to an Ethiopian I’m sure I’m a whale right! So I just tell him that no, I’m not sick, but that I’m under a lot of stress, etc. which means I’m not eating healthy things and have no time or energy at the end of the day to exercise and I’m just not living a healthy life style. He then proceeds to tell me how the last vet that came and her technician were both very skinny and very healthy and muscular. So sorry dude, to disappoint. He then tells me that the technician is a personal trainer and that it’s too bad I live far from Alabama b/c then she could help me and my big body!!! Hahaha I then told him I was going to sleep and that he needed to go. I wasn’t rude or anything b/c I know he doesn’t mean to be rude but enough’s enough already. I know he’s right and I need to commit to being better about what I eat and make time for a run every not and then so I can’t fault him there at all but it’s never fun being told by some random person I’ve known for all of 5 minutes that I’m going to die b/c I’m fat J.

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