Africa Wins Again

Written 5/15/2008

It’s been a few days since my last post. It’s been a good week thus far. Monday and Wednesday’s classes went better than I thought they would. My grade five and six classes are writing letters to America. They couldn’t be more excited about anything in the world. My little brothers’ classes are going to act as pen pals for my classes here in Ethiopia by writing letters back to us before the school year is finished. Jack (9) is in third grade and is really excited to be doing this letter project. He’s missed me a lot over this past year and I think this makes him feel a lot more connected to me. I’m glad he’s excited about it. Andrew (12) is in sixth grade and hopefully his teacher will be excited as well. I haven’t got an email back from him, but I’m optimistic that it’ll work out. Other than that, life has been pretty normal…well, as normal as it gets here in Addis.

Oh! One cool thing that I’ve gotten together at school is “The HOPE School Championship.” I’m organizing a soccer match between the HOPE Grade School teachers and the HOPE Vocational School teachers this next Friday. Everyone is pitching in 10 Birr so we can buy a sheep or two and slaughter it after the game is finished. Then we’ll have a feast to celebrate! Nothing like fresh meat.

Speaking of meat, Jarrett and I are going out in about an hour to hang out with Befekadu (brother…see post, “An All-Star Cast”). We’re going to this place called Elsa Bar. Basically it’s a bar, but they sell food also. The catch is…all they have is various forms of beef. You can get tibs, chekena tibs (same as tibs, just extra tender meat), kittfo (raw, seasoned ground beef) and tere sega (huge slabs of raw steak meat that they eat with burning hot pepper powder called mit mita…take a knife and dig in!). Also, they have pretty good draft beer there as well…half liter for 3 Birr, about .30 USD! We should have a good time. Bef really likes to hang out with the guys, so whenever he gets to hang out with me, he’s really excited and I am too because he’s pretty hilarious. Especially when we teach him words like, “Boo!” or “Give him an Oscar!” (used when Ronaldo flops in the box without being touched and then cries like a little girl to get a call). My personal favorite however, is “Duh!”

So… why is the title of this post, “Africa Wins Again”? Well, it’s become a new saying of mine. A friend of ours uses it with his son whenever things just don’t go their way here in Ethiopia. It helps to continue being patient through really frustrating things just to say, “Well…Africa wins again.” And it’s not like I’m keeping score or anything because that might get depressing considering I use the phrase about three times a day. So the question is…when do you use this handy phrase? I’ll give you some examples…

You’re taking a nice warm shower and you’ve just soaped up your entire body in an effort to get all the dust, diesel, and sweat off. You set the bar of soap in the soap holder and drip…drip…drip…drip. Out of nowhere, the city of Addis Ababa thinks it would be a great idea to shut your water off. How exactly do you get soap off your body without water? I guess you’ll have to find out. It might involve a bucket, a pitcher and 50 degrees of decrease in temperature. Well…Africa wins again.

You spend hours spraying the house with Raid to get rid of the thousand mosquitoes and other crawling things, go to bed happy and feeling successful only to wake up with 45 bug bites over the entirety of your body. Well…Africa wins again.

You’re walking along an hour and a half from home thinking everything is right in the world only to have something in your digestive system instantly drop from esophagus to colon and demand exit. You run to the nearest shop and ask if they have a bathroom. Nope. Next. Nope. Ten shops later you find a kind gentleman who escorts you to the restroom. However, his idea of a restroom is outside, and merely a ledge, which you are supposed to hang yourself over and let it drop. The catch is…there is a bustling market full of people just down the hill from where your hind end is pointing. They have a great view of your privacy. Well…Africa wins again.

So you’re at a bar having dinner. It’s only a five-minute taxi ride back home, so it’s no big deal when it’s time to leave. However, the largest rain, thunder and lightening storm you’ve ever seen just began and you have to stand and fight for taxi while getting sopping wet (normal occurrence). So a half hour goes by and finally all five of you fight your way onto a mini-bus. Finally. Safety from the elements and a ride back to a cozy home. So you pull off the curb having a good time continuing the conversation from dinner and WHAM HONK SRAPE HONK CRASH HONK BANG HONK SKID!!!!!!!! Your driver fails to look at all where he’s going before he pulls out and your side of the mini-bus gets hit by a Winnebago-sized bus and you get thrown into another car on your right hand side, scrape down the length of it, and come to a skidding stop. Everyone, thank God, is okay…but the taxi isn’t and you’re forced to get back out into the rain and fight for another taxi…but no taxi comes. So…you walk home the mile and a half in the pouring rain. Well…Africa wins again.

I think you guys get the picture. It’s just a way to brush things off that normally would make you extremely frustrated. What I’ve learned here is that there are so many more things that are outside of my control in Ethiopia than in the States. If I don’t come up with ways to be creatively patient, life gets to me. I start getting frustrated and intolerant of daily things that shouldn’t upset me. So…I use this phrase.

So, I hope that gave you a little insight into my life here in Ethiopia. I miss you all a ton.

59 Days left!

A Winner for Today,


2 Responses to Africa Wins Again

  1. Linda Parisi says:


    You crack me up! I love reading what you have to say and though I know that it’s not fun, all of this you are going through, I know that you are growing in ways that I could have never taught you. As a mom, it breaks my heart to know that any of my children have to suffer. Even with mosquito bites and down pours, but with you, I’ve had to really let go. I am getting better at not worrying and just praying for you. So I guess I am growing to through your trials. The closer it gets to you all coming home, the more anxious I get. I miss you so much and am counting the days. Thanks for making your daily trials a little more comical so that it is easier for me grow.

    I love you!!!

  2. Dave Parsi says:

    Hi Josh,

    All I can say is may God continue to guide you, direct you, protect you, and carry you each step of the way.

    Also, how much beer are you drinking these days?


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