Six down, 18 to go. I’m officially 25% of the way there. Woah!
I realized a couple weeks ago that we’ve been in Ethiopia now for over eight months, almost nine. I remember when I used to think that time was flying by… right now it feels like it’s absolutely crawling. Looking forward, I know that soon enough I will be saying, “Where did all the time go??” Well, read on to see what my life has been consumed by…
Big news… I’m moving!
Yep, you read that right. I’m moving! Luckily, I am staying in the same town and even in my same kebele (district), but this time next week I’ll be in the process of moving into my new house. Thanks to some drama with my landlord that Peace Corps happened to walk in during a site visit, it was decided that it was time for me to find a new house. Almost two months later—I’ll be moving in!
Sadly, my new house is only one room (albeit a huge room) but the compound is amazing. It’s brand new, has only three other residents (the landlord, his wife and their servant), has a cold shower (!!) and is HUGE. I am optimistic they will let me garden as there is a lot of room they don’t seem to be really using and the trees are all very young so there is plenty of sun for now. It is also in a newer part of town so it will be very quiet. The only thing I heard while we were out there negotiating was the chickens they own, then heading back to my current house there were sounds of traffic, kids playing, electric saws sawing and just all the people milling around. My current area also has two shops in the compound and four or five tella betoc (local beer houses) that keep the compound hopping form dawn to dusk. My new area is pretty much residential so I am happy that I might actually get some decent sleep once in awhile.
It’s a little bit farther out of town, on the other side of the church that is near my current house. And aside from never going out at night (which of course, I don’t really do anyway… ever), I think it might finally be time to buy that bicycle I’ve been avoiding so that I can get into town a little easier!
Committee Meetings & Other Travel
This past week I was in Addis for a Cross Culture Committee meeting/training and am happily the new Secretary for the CCC. After camp is finished, I can’t wait to dive in completely to this committee and make it a part of the remainder of my Peace Corps life! Although I’ve only been a member for a short time, I feel really passionate about the mission and objectives of the committee, and truly hope we can grow and build on what the previous groups have done already. There is so much potential out there and I’m really excited about the possiblities!
Also, this coming weekend I’ll be in Gondar for a Camp GLOW planning meeting. It’s hard to believe we’re about a month out from that! I am taking an awesome counterpart and four girls from different schools in town. I’ll be at site for at least three weeks before it’s back to Gondar for camp! There are a couple awesome things in the works from there that I’ll provide updates for when the details become more concrete.
My site mate and I have been working hard to get the land prepped in order to plant a garden in the early fall when school starts back up. We’ve been digging trenches for a water catchment system, tilling up the grass so it’ll be easier to work with come September, and refurbishing an old shint bet (toilet) that the school no longer uses and repurposing it into a gazebo for the garden area. Many students have wandered over to help us for a couple of minutes and it’s definitely made the work go a LOT faster. We were worried it’d take two-three months just to prep the area, but within a few days we had a huge amount of work done.
There are BIG plans for this garden. We are hoping the vegetable area will be able to eventually become an IGA (income generating activity) for orphans and some of the more vulnerable students (eg poor), a small tree nursery to raise seedlings to distribute to the students families, a gazebo and garden area for students to study, as well as container gardens, a composting pit and the water catchment system.
Last week the kids held a “end of year” party. There was coffee (of course), habesha libs (clothes) and lots of dancing. They’ve been a great group of kids and I’m hoping that most of them—if not all—will be back next year to work on their English and participate in fun projects with me and my site mate. Hopefully we can do some fun things like paint a world map on a wall somewhere and do more American/Ethiopian holiday celebrations. These lijoc (children) have been the lifeblood of my six months in Bure so far and I can’t wait to do more fun things with them next year!
It’s officially rainy season here in south Amhara with hours of rain every day. Sometimes it’ll be fairly gentle and people still go about their business, but other times in is an absolute downpour, banging on the steel roofs and sometimes even hailing pea-size hail. My current (soon to be old) house has a major leak in the bedroom from even the slightest bit of rain—something that has not been fun to deal with (especially before I realized it was there and my clothes got all wet!).
The biggest surprise of rainy season is the mud. There is mud EVERYWHERE. While digging out the garden, I think I gained two inches from mud caked on my shoes. Luckily, I am the happy new owner of some bright yellow farmer rain boots (read cheap plastic) that I tromp around town in. People laugh at me, but whatever, the practicality is awesome. So future PC/Ethiopia PCVs—seriously, the mud is ridiculous!
More good news about rainy season is that the water is BACK. It’s been on almost every day for a couple weeks. I’m relieved that I survived the dry season with minimal break downs (one major one to be exact). Also, since the epic five day power outage, the town’s power has been mostly on or only been out for a couple hours here or there. I’m optimistic this means good things for our future of consistent power.
Last month I was all excited about my new stove, this month it’s my new oven that I got from a COSing PCV in a town nearby! (COS=leaving at the end of one’s service) I haven’t gotten to try it out yet, but I hear rumors of brown sugar and baking powder in Addis, so am optimistic soon I’ll be baking cakes and muffins like a madwoman. Note to all people with access to a supermarket: please send cake and/or muffins in a box!! I have easy access to eggs, oil and water and am at the point where I might tackle someone for a decent piece of cake. Or any pastry for that matter.
Anyway, that’s about it for the first six months at site. Looking at recent developments I am beyond excited for what the future might hold for me here in Peace Corps/Ethiopia and can’t wait to dive into all that awaits my time here. You know, one thing that experience has definitely taught me is that if you allow and give your life the opportunity to give you amazing things… it does. So “get in.” It’s only life after all.