Africa Wins Again

16 May 2008

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,
Joshua


The Whiners Win It and Jarrett Was There to See It

13 May 2008

Written on 5/11/2008

So I think I forgot to mention that last weekend, Maren and Sarah’s brother, Jarrett, flew in to Addis and is staying with us for three weeks. Jarrett is a pretty great guy and we actually lived on the same floor in college my sophomore (his freshman) year. It’s been nice having another guy around the house. The other night, I heard the phrase, “I agree with Josh” for the first time in about nine months…it’s a refreshing feeling to have someone around that realizes that I’m right. In all honesty, it’s just nice to have a guy around to relate with in a guy way…refer to sports history and have them know what I’m talking about and just be guys…not that girls are bad, just different.

Anyway, tonight was the last round of games for the English Premier League. Going into the game, Chelsea and Manchester United were tied in points and would decide the title with the outcome of each of their games. Chelsea was at home against Bolton and came up with a sad looking draw and lost their captain and central defender, John Terry, to a broken arm in the first five minutes of the game. The outcome of their game had no bearing on the outcome of the league given the fact that Manchester United came up with a 2-0 victory away to Wigan. The game was a little questionably called by the referee (missed an obvious handball in the box on Man U and then gave a weak penalty to them on the other end, thus putting Man U up 1-0 and taking the wind out of Wigan’s sails) and Wigan sort of fell apart in the second half. They had plenty of chances to put it in the goal, but never made it happen. So…not only did Arsenal not come through this season, the Manchester Whiners took the cup. Here’s the deal…I know that they have a bunch of good players. Actually, they have a bunch of really good players. Christiano Ronaldo is one of the best players in the world, but even still, his potential is wasted on flopping and whining. He had 31 goals this season, the most in the league by any one player. But in all reality, if he stuck with his runs, sucked it up a bit, stopped whining and looking for calls, and stayed on his feet, he could have probably 50 goals! I can’t stand players that think they are so good that they should just be handed calls whenever they think they should get one. That’s not what sports are about. Suck it up. Play the game. Let the ref be the ref and you be the player. Just because you’re a pretty-boy, Portuguese all-star who scores a lot of goals, doesn’t mean you should be treated any differently on the field.

Okay…I’m done with my rant…I just need to get that off my chest. Anyway, Jarrett came with Bethany, Maren and I to watch the game. He was pretty impressed at the amount of people they could cram in a tiny room and how much the Ethiopians are into British soccer.

Blessing of the night…we got a taxi all the way from downtown back to our home. That might not sound like much to you, but to us it’s the most relieving feeling in our humble normally slow-paced lives here in Ethiopia. Sometimes getting a taxi at night is more like 50 lions fighting to get a bite of one rabbit…except with people trying to steal everything out of your pockets at the same time. So it was a great feeling.

It’s about 9:00 now, so I should get to bed soon. Wow…with that bedtime, all I would have to do is start hitting up the 4pm Denny’s dinner special and I’d be a senior citizen. I guess life’s just different here in Ethiopia.

As I sleep, all you stateside folks have a great day, and those of you closer to my time zone, sleep well.

Ready for the week,
Joshua


Mommy and Daddy Return

9 May 2008

Written on 5/6/2008

Well…in the late afternoon, Dasia’s mommy and daddy came home. That’s right, back to young adulthood without children. It was a fun time and Dasia’s actually not too bad for being two. We had a lot of fun, but will take some lasting memories from the experience.

The top five memories are as follows:

5.) “Come on vamanos! Everybody let’s go! You know there’s nothing to it! You know that we can do it! D-d-d-d-d-Dora! d-d-d-d-d-Dora! Dora, Dora, Dora the Explorer! With Boots their super cool explora loras!” Why do I know the entire intro song to Dora the Explorer? Twice a day ought to do it.

4.) Due to the fact that Dasia sees me more often, Bethany is also called Josh.

3.) SMACK! Followed by blood curdling screams as I open a door at a faster than normal speed only to find that Dasia’s forehead was positioned perfectly behind the door to absorb all of it’s impact.

2.) “Dasia! Do not touch the doggy’s poop!”

1.)    Bathtime. While I was preparing the water for Dasia’s bath, Bethany made the crucial mistake of prematurely removing Dasia’s clothes. A pint of pee later, I had to leave the room so Bethany could change her soaked shirt. Dasia just smiled and said, “Uh-oh!”

That about sums up our babysitting experience. Hope you enjoyed!

Done,
Joshua


Resurrection, Bräu, Bratwurst and a Two Year-Old Girl

9 May 2008

Written on 5/4/2008

Hey everyone! Just dropping in to let you know I’m still here. It has been a pretty eventful last couple of weeks. Maren and Sarah’s parents were in town for about a week, which was a great visit. It definitely made me miss my family a lot more. But only 70 days left! So I think I can make it.

So let’s see…what’s new? Well, I know that Easter was almost two months ago, but here in Ethiopia, the church celebrates Easter a lot later…the whole Coptic calendar thing…so we just celebrated it again last Sunday. It was pretty cool because the orthodox families we know had been fasting from all animal products (eggs, milk, meat, cheese, etc.) for 55 days…way more hardcore than lent in the US…so they really go all out with the meat on Easter Sunday. The morning began with a sunrise sheep slaughtering. Fifteen minutes and the 16 year-old butcher had that thing flayed open and pieced apart ready to hit the frying pan. We had lunch at our family’s house. Way too much food. Then the next night, we had Ethiopian food again. Then on Tuesday, we had it again. Normally, the trend would continue that Maren, Bethany and I would spend the next week laid up in bed and continuously rotating in and out of the bathroom and exceeding our monthly budget of toilet paper. But not this time. We were smart, stayed away from the “difficult” foods and made it through the holiday safely. The week went by rather quickly because the Monday after Easter is a no school day and Thursday was national laborers day. It’s now Sunday and we have another holiday tomorrow! Ethiopian Patriot’s Day! I’m not sure what it is, but it’s a day off, so I’m not complaining.

Anyway, I am compelled to tell you about an incredible discovery that I made last night. It is called, “Garden Bräu” which I’m pretty sure means “Beer Garden” in German. Drew Kreeger can correct me if I’m wrong. Regardless, I heard a rumor that they had good German beer (anything’s better than the water they call beer here in Ethiopia), bratwurst and schnitzel. I was quite skeptical at first, but upon entry, all my expectations were exceeded. The night only continued to get better when I taste tested a cold .2 litre glass of Blondy fresh from the tap. Crisp, clean, smooth, not to thin, not too thick, but just right. The group proceeded to share a three-foot tall personal beer tower (with tap) as we dined on the finest of German cuisine. Some sauerkraut, bread, authentic German mustard and two giant brats later, we headed home to get a good night’s rest. The next three days would be fun ones.

Our friends, Damon and Heidi, have a beautiful two year-old daughter named Dasia (like the continent “Asia” with a  “D” in front). They haven’t had much alone time in about…a year, so Bethany and I volunteered to watch Dasia for three days at their house while they went to a resort about an hour outside of Addis. This morning, we picked up Dasia from the house and took her to church with us. That was a fun time and we had no hiccups along the way. It’s about 8pm now and to say the least…I’m tired. Turns out two year-olds need you to do EVERYTHING for them. They’re so dependent. But I guess that’s what they all are like. Bethany and I came to one conclusion. If you know someone who’s thinking about having sex, let ‘em take care of a two year-old for three days. That’ll change their minds. Someone could even market it to teenagers. Like, “Hey you! Thinking about having sex in high school? Think again. Baby’s are like leeches! Take care of this one for three days and see how it feels! It’ll suck all your life away!” Now don’t get me wrong on this, babies are incredible gifts from God. But as a twenty three year old…let alone as a high schooler…two year-olds are not all they’re cracked up to be. They basically, eat, sleep, poop and whine constantly about all three. You really can’t win. And the worst thing is…they’re still cute, so you can’t get mad at them. Especially when you’re trying to scold them for throwing their food all around the house and they look at you and repeat your playful words from earlier, “I’m donna det you!” with that cute baby face, that cute baby smile, and that devilish little grin that follows you failing in the scolding department. It’s great fun.

Only two more days. Then we can be childless again…for a long, long time.

Not ready to be a daddy,
Joshua


A Note to Self and Seahawks WIN!!!!

23 April 2008

Written 4/23/2008

Well, it’s been about a week since my last post. I figured I should give people a little time to catch up on my recent post explosion, and given my recent lack of Internet connectivity, even if I had written something, it wouldn’t have made it up. So let’s see…what’s new?

Over the weekend, a friend came to the house and spent the night. His name is Nodair. “Nod” like when you nod your head. And “Air” like the stuff you breathe. He is a friend that is from Seattle, but I never knew him until we met here through a mutual friend. He’s a really cool guy and he likes a lot of the same stuff I do…climbing, sports, card games, etc. On Saturday, we spent the afternoon watching the Arsenal-v-Reading game with Getu along with us. If you don’t remember Getu, look back to the post entitled “An All-Star Cast.” Arsenal won 2-0 with goals by Adebayor and Gilberto. Then it was back across the city to our house to watch the Manchester United-v-Blackburn game. Ending in a 1-1 tie, Blackburn almost pulled it out and made me the happiest individual in Addis Ababa. I’ll take the tie though. It was great to hang out with Nod and he and I got to talk about my faith and what I believe. Growing up in an eastern religious family, he never learned much about western religion, and therefore Christianity. He is really interested.

Monday was…a day to remember. I’m not sure if you know this, but the sun in Africa is just a tad bit hotter than the sun in Seattle. I knew this, so I applied a generous coating of SPF 30 sunscreen before I got out into the open air. We lay by the pool at the Ghion hotel ($2 entrance fee for a whole day at an Olympic size pool) for a couple hours, did some reading and then hopped in. Here comes the good part. When I got out of the pool, I didn’t reapply. Then we sat out for another couple hours. When I got home, I was fine, but that night…I was in pain. To say the least, I looked like a lobster all over my back. Not my front…just the back. Oh, and the back of my knees. Oh, and the tops of my feet. I’m still reaping what I sowed, but it’s slowly getting better. Note to self…the sun is hot…especially in Africa. Check.

I forgot to mention this last week, but I figured I’d let you all know the most amazing thing that has happened in all of my time here. So I was walking down the street and saw a man wearing an American NFL t-shirt. The script read, “Seahawks Superbowl XL Champions!!!!!!” I was pumped. I was almost positive that the Steelers won that game, but according to this man’s shirt, I, along with millions of other Americans, was wrong. The Seahawks had in fact won the Superbowl! Well, once I got online, my hopes were shattered when I found out that I was correct in the first place in that the Steelers did win, but it was fun while it lasted. For each sports championship, they print up both sets of t-shirts and other apparel and whichever team wins, they just sell those right after the game. Apparently the losing teams shirts get sent to Ethiopia. So…in Addis Ababa, the Seahawks reign as Superbowl XL Champs. GO HAWKS!!!!

Hope you all are doing well.

Crispy,
Joshua


Oops!!!

18 April 2008

Written on 2/18/2008

This is a post I wrote the day before we were leaving on our vacation to the north, but do to the poor dial-up connection at the café I was using, I guess it never got posted. So here it is…

Ethiopians for Eli
Written on 2/4/2008

Well, I don’t know that anyone in Ethiopia who isn’t from the U.S. has any idea who Eli Manning, but they should. If they can virtually worship a sissy like Christiano Ronaldo who refuses to walk onto the pitch without his hair gelled, then they should be governmentally required to have an understanding of what it means to put together a 2 minute drive in the last minutes of the Super Bowl that would consequently win the game and place the best team in all of football in the seat of defeat. I am planning on implementing this educational caveat at the school where I work at the beginning of the next semester. I hope it takes.

I am a little tired as I type here in a cafe near Addis Ababa’s ever popular Bole Rd. I woke up this morning at 2am to walk about a mile in the pitch black night watch a live broadcast of Super Bowl XLII on ESPN International. My friend Damon, his wife Heidi, their 2 year-old daughter Dasia, Bethany, and I went over to the house of a guy Damon knew and had a mini Super Bowl party with chips, queso dip, and coffee (it was tough to start the engines after only 2 hours of sleep). It was pretty incredible and we were glad we watched it. But I am now reaping the consequences of my actions and am predicting an 8pm bedtime tonight.

Tomorrow, we head out early to begin our nine-day vacation to the Northern regions of Ethiopia. Our destinations include, Axum, Lalibela, the Simien Mountains, Gonder, Barhir Dar, and the Blue Nile Falls. Axum is known for it’s massive single rock obelisk that stands over 100 feet tall and is over a thousand years old. Lalibella is home to hundreds of rock-hewn churches that lie within the earth. They have existed for more than 1500 years and were built to resist persecution during Muslim invasions. Gonder is known for its castles and Barhir Dar is home to the Blue Nile falls. Quick fact, the Blue Nile Falls make up 80% of the source waters for the Nile River. Pretty interesting, eh?  I’m excited for the trip and can’t wait to see such incredible history first hand.  Pray for safe travel through all the mountain ranges.

In other news, Arsenal FC is back atop the leader board as they not only massacred Westham United 3-0, but also the pretty boy, whom I mentioned earlier, and his Manchester United squad dropped two crucial points in a sad draw to Tottenham. With Emmanuel Addebayor’s scoring habit and the artsy passing game of the Arsenal back four and midfielders, they look poised to continue their winning ways here in the near future. The test will come however, when they face their nemeses Man. U in the fifth round of the FA Cup (Feb. 16) and then the incredible AC Milan in the next round of the UEFA Champions league (Feb. 20). Thankfully neither will influence the Premier League standings.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope you all are continuing to do well in life and aren’t slacking on your New Year’s resolutions.

So…that was a blast from the past. Hope you enjoyed. Miss you all a ton and can’t wait to hear from you.

Posting almost daily.
Joshua


Success!

17 April 2008

Written 4/17/2008

Today, Bethany and I went to the store to pick up some essential groceries for the house. That’s my chore for the week, but I don’t make lists very well, so Bethany helps. We got top ramen from Dubai, green peppers ($1.50/lb), goat milk yoghurt, cheese, Raid “All Insect” killer, couscous, and Poppy’s (Ethiopian version of Smacks…amazing). Why was this a successful adventure? No…not because we got these groceries. That happens often enough to call it normal. The reason this venture was successful was becuause Bethany had the bright idea of asking the other white person (whom she sort of recognized) if they could give us a ride since our house was in the same neighborhood as hers. She obliged and we were on our way! This may not seem to be such a big deal to you, but to us, getting on two different minibuses with armloads of groceries and backpacks is not our idea of a fun afternoon. Simple pleasures. That’s what life is all about here in Addis.

Hope you all are well. It’s almost my bedtime. Gotta catch a taxi!

Accomplished in Life,

Joshua