It’s almost midnight as I sit here in the dark, unable to sleep. I’ve been trying for hours, but for some reason, sleep evades me, slipping from my grasp.
Thirty-one days ago, I swore in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Thirty days ago, I left Addis for my new home—the one I sit in now listening to the sounds of the West Gojam night. Mostly I hear the insects singing, with occasional interruptions of an Isuzu that managed to find it’s way off the main road and onto the one that runs near my house, or of dogs barking somewhere in the distance.
It’s difficult to believe I’ve already been here a month, and have already managed to create some semblance of a routine, despite the many holiday interruptions—both American and Ethiopian—that have marked my short time here. Last Monday, I missed Ethiopian Christmas (called Genna) in my town, because I spent the better part of the week travelling to and from Addis Ababa for a medical appointment. Today, when I went to my office, many people told me, “T’ahfash!” (Amharic for “You were lost!”). I told them, “Ahoon azi nain!” (“I am here now!”).
Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are market days in my town, with the importance of the market growing the later in the week it takes place. Saturday, my site mate and I met for breakfast at Paradise Café—a place that happens to have the best special ful in town (and I’d venture to say the region since I have yet to taste a better one)—before heading to the market to stock up on fresh veggies. Somehow, we always make a beeline for the tomato lady, who also happens to have good carrots, even though tomatoes are usually the last purchase. Somewhere to the left (or right, depending on which way you’re facing), are the onion ladies… some of whom might have the bigger onions like I am used to back home.
Before the vegetables and fruit section, you walk past a honey and beeswax candles, clothing, tailors, home/kitchen goods and a solid miscellaneous section of what might include jewelry and buna ceremony pieces on any given day. On the left are the spice vendors, with a variety of spices for which I don’t even know the English name. Further to the left, you can find more fresh spices, things like rosemary or lemongrass popping up every once while, if you know what you’re looking for. Past that, wrapping down around the bottom of the market, there’s a butter section, a basket section and an eggs and doro (chicken) section.
I’ve been on the hunt to find a decent jebena (traditional Ethiopian coffee pot) to use as a candle holder, but couldn’t bring myself to purchase a tiny one for 17 birr, approximately $1 USD. In the pottery section, I found a large, very basic one for 5 birr, about 30 cents. Today it sits precariously on my coffee table, covered in white and blue wax… immensely helpful the past two days when the power went out right at sunset.
The days seem long, yet already they are flying by at a pace much too rapid, and the fear that I will miss something sits quietly in the back of my mind. So I sit still, enjoy the moment and listen to the sounds of the this Ethiopian night.