Tuesday, April 27, 2010

We're Home at Last!

The following six posts were put on today.  If you want to read them in order, go down to April 11- April 17 and read up.  Sorry I was so interrupted in my blogging by a broken satellite modem, and the volcano in Iceland.  I did keep writing on my computer so that I could post as soon as I got home.  We flew into Denver on Sunday afternoon and I actually cried when I walked into the restroom at the airport because it was so clean and I dared to use it.  It's always confusing to go to another country and figure out how to flush their toilets, but here in America I know how to FLUSH!  We flew into IF Sunday night and were met by Morgan and Leah.  Alan has left for Mesa Arizona to visit with his mom and dad.  He's very relieved that he can go and be there with them for a few days.  He'll be back on Saturday. 

April 23, 2010

We think we’re flying out of here tonight. Our travel agency is working on our flight plan to take us to Frankfurt overnight arriving there on Saturday morning. We’ll stay Saturday in Frankfurt and then fly out of there on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 and arrive in Denver on Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. Then fly to IF and get there late at night. I hope this happens!

I went out today by myself (amazing) and wandered around the area here close at the guest houses. I went over to Passion burger to eat lunch. It’s about the most American food that you can get here in Ethiopia. They have good French fries, but the burgers and sandwiches taste just a little different. I think they might have extra spices in them. The beef burgers are just a thin little meatloaf like thing that they put on a roll and then add tomato, onion, and lettuce. No pickles here. No mustard either. I took some pictures of the Ethiopian Orthodox church just across the street from the guest houses, the one that starts the chanting business about 5:00 am every morning continuing for several hours. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is an Oriental Orthodox Christian church in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Church was part of the Coptic Orthodox Church until 1959, when it was granted its own Patriarch by Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa, Cyril VI. It should not be confused with the Ethiopian Catholic Church, which split from it in 1930.  One of the few pre-colonial Christian churches of Sub-Saharan Africa, it has a membership of about 40 million people (45 million claimed by the Patriarch), mainly in Ethiopia, and is thus the largest of all Oriental Orthodox churches.

It is a beautiful church and I wandered around the block to get some better pictures. Just around the corner, but on the same block I found the area to be run down and trashy. The church is beautiful on the side that faces the nice rich area and then run down and trashy on the other side. There were people sleeping on the street there. There are so many beggars here in Addis – well everywhere in Ethiopia really. Alan is usually compassionate and will give most people a little something. I’m usually not carrying money, so I don’t. I did buy two DVD’s off the street today for around $2.00 each. I bought Planet Earth and then some other African movie, and Alan bought Avatar and the Blind Side. I know, some of you people are going to have a problem with me doing this, but I wanted to do it just once and see if the quality is bad or good. As forejees in Ethiopia, we know that we’re getting overcharged left and right for goods. Our foreigness is something we can’t hide and the cost of things automatically goes up when we are the purchasers, so it makes me feel good when I get something for less than it should normally cost. I feel like I have triumphed in the market place. One day Nadi and I were looking for bananas. We stopped at a road side stand and I asked first how much for the bananas/kilo. Then Nadi asked and they told him. When we compared prices, he was quoted something like 40 birr less per kilo than I was. It makes me mad that I can’t get the normal, average, everyday price for things because I am a forenjee. So that’s why I’m not going to lose any sleep over purchasing something I know darn well was bootlegged and I’m getting it for almost nothing.

I hope we’re out of here tonight!

We just got word we are approved to leave at 10:30 on Lufthaansa to Frankfurt! Oh my word, I’m so relieved!

My Philosophy of American vs. Ethiopian Work Ethics, Spa Day, and that Darn Volcano

April 20, 2010

Alan was busy all day today, trying to get things organized and put together before we leave for the US. Nadi stayed out in Nazaret again last night, but he will be back tomorrow with the van and will start for Beltu either tomorrow or the next day. Alan had planned to go out looking for an air compressor that he wants to have purchased for Beltu. He got to the place, but couldn’t buy it, because the company rule is that you have to have a request to buy it. Then you go back and get a quote from the business and put it in a sealed envelope, then you have to go get two more quotes in sealed envelopes, then you have to bring the three quotes back to the office and put them in front of the purchasing officer, then he opens the quotes and tells you which one he thinks is best. Then, if you’re lucky you can go back and purchase the air compressor, and hope that it has not been purchased by someone else while you were running around. The problems at the office are many and it is really making Alan crazy. Let’s just say that Ethiopians don’t get uptight or worried about too much. They’re pretty content to just take their time about everything and they don’t understand why we Americans have time schedules and want things to be efficient. It’s a constant battle.

Today I met with Chombe’s wife who took me to the Hilton spa for a spa treatment. They had wanted to get together with Alan and I last night, but we couldn’t. So Chombe volunteered his wife to come get me and go spa together. Actually she ended up leaving me at the spa, after she showed me around. I had access to a steam bath, a hot shower, a sauna room, a massage, and a tea room, oh, and ice cold water with fresh limes. I admit, I really enjoyed it. However, because I don’t speak the language, I didn’t understand that I needed a swimsuit to enjoy all the amenities, so I couldn’t go into the Jacuzzi, because the only suit I had was my birthday suit. Darn it, I was looking forward to the Jacuzzi. But I did get a massage – a habesha massage. That means all over, legs, feet, toes, arms, chest, buttocks, back, neck, fingers, and forehead. It took about an hour and I enjoyed it! Particularly, because she didn’t actually massage my chest, just all around my chest area, if you get what I mean. She put on some relaxing zen-like music, lowered the lights, and went to work. It was pretty fun, and I’m sure they get lots of forenjees there who need to be pampered after roughing it out in the bush. I was totally convinced afterward that we need to send some maids up here to learn to massage and then bring them back to the farm so that I can have a massage every week.

Chombe’s wife came back at 4:00 and took me to the guest house where I got packed and ready to go to the airport. Alan came, got ready and at 9:30 Joe came and took us to the airport. All day long Alan had been checking the internet to see if our flight was scheduled or had been canceled. All indications said we were going. When we got there, we were told by an employee that the Frankfurt flight would bypass Frankfurt and go to Brussels. They only gave us a few minutes to make up our mind what would be best to do. Alan called Christopherson travel, not Char, but some other person, who advised us to stay in the country and work with Ethiopian airlines to get us out. We decided to stay put and try to get out on a later flight, but now in retrospect, we should have left and taken our chances in getting from Brussels to Frankfurt for our flight home to Denver and IF. I’m kicking myself for not pushing Alan harder to get out of here and I’m mad that I’m not on that flight to Brussels. Craaaapy Volcano!!!! I feel a meltdown coming!

April 21, 2010

I should have been home today, but I’m still here in Addis, and not in the best of moods. We have gone over to Ethiopian Airlines office and told them to schedule us for getting to Frankfurt as soon as possible. They have put us on the list of people to call in case they can finally land in Frankfurt. We know that Frankfurt has opened up to let flights in and out, but they are overcrowded and are only letting in flights from their most important customers. Ethiopian Airlines doesn’t rate so high on the list is my opinion, and so they don’t get to fly into that busy airport. This is only what I think.

Today a worker, Adam, was at the office when I was there. He came over and sat down by me and told me how much he likes Alan. He said Alan is very serious and likes to work. Yes, I knew that. He said Alan works works, works, and wants everyone around him to work hard too. Hmmmm, imagine that. He definitely wanted me to know that he likes Alan and thinks highly of him.
OK enough about working – we’re not going home today or tomorrow! I'm depressed.

Monday in Addis - Bracken is leaving no matter how many countries he has to go through!

Today the weather is mostly cloudy and I expect it to rain. Alan has been in meetings all day today with financial officers and purchasing departments. He is getting frustrated at how this operation gets bogged down, because of our miscommunications mostly. Everything is so green and beautiful here in Addis and the temperatures are very mild. Even though it is gray outside, it is still warm enough for me. However, I do see that a lot of the local people here get very cold if it is cloudy and rainy. They're not used to dealing with harsh weather conditions.

Today I went out with Tedi, a driver for the company and Nadi, a finance clerk and teacher who works with us on the farm in Beltu. We went out to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables to send back to the farm with Nadi when he goes. I first went to Bambi and then to Friendship which are more American type grocery stores. After that, we went and found some souvenirs to take home with us. I shopped for Bracken, because he says he has no idea what to buy for his little girls. I just think Bracken does not like to shop. As we wove in and out of traffic I felt that several times we were going to collide with another car or mow down a pedestrian. Amazingly we got to the stores and back without any mishap. I had to just sit in the back and try not to gasp or scream as we tore down the streets and darted in front of other drivers. The driver told me there is no electricity for the lights to operate. I asked him if this was common, and he said “yes, they never work.” Too funny! You honestly don’t stop at any intersection, you just go through honking.

Last night when we got here I had a hot shower! I’ve not had one in over a month. We all felt happy to go to bed clean. When I awakened in the morning I felt like I had been unconscious for 10 hours.

Bracken’s flight was canceled out of Addis to Frankfurt due to the valcano eruption in Iceland, so he has been sending emails to our travel agency haranguing them for any itinerary he can get to go home. Finally at about 7:30 p.m.here, he got an itinerary. He leaves Addis at 9:35 headed for Khartoum Sudan, then to Cairo Egypt, then to Rome Italy, then to Madrid Spain, then to Atlanta Georgia and then finally on to SLC, Utah. He was very excited, but then realized how difficult it was going to be to make all of his flights and he got somewhat worried. He decided to pack one carry-on just because he knew with so many flights, that his luggage would be lost for sure. He got ready in about 20 minutes, and he took off tonight for Sudan. Bye for now to Bracken. I hope he makes it OK. We are hoping all will be well for our flight tomorrow to Frankfurt.

The Craziest Adventure I've Ever Had!

April 18, 2010

We started out early this morning from the farm and headed south to Ginir but only went about 3 or 4 kilometers before we had to turn back because of the bad road conditions. So went back to the farm and then decided that we could take an alternative route that went North up to Beltu and then southwest to Sheik Husein and then back down to Ginir over to Robe Shashamene and then upto Addis. We knew there was a more direct route from Sheik Husein to Addis which would cut off about 4-5 hours but we heard that it was perilous and there would be no place to get help if we needed it. We decided that when we got to Sheik Husein we would ask the local people about it, and if they said it was passable, then we would take that route in order to shorten our trip and make it to Addis is one day. The driver did not want to take the direct route, but we settled between us Americans that we would make it happen if we could. So we set out once again from the farm. I saw hut after hut, camel after camel, donkey after donkey, and one little dirty urchin after another, everything that I’m used to after living here for a month. We made the ride in a filthy van that had a driver and his assistant who looked like he was about 14. The assistant’s job was to hang out the window periodically and look to see how the tires were holding up. I felt sorry for him and as the day went along, I gave him cookies, chocolate, watermelon gum, and pepsi. The driver stole my orange soda pop and so I was mad and gave his assistant treats and him nothing. The driver would only go about 30 kilometers/hour and so we knew it was going to be a long arduous journey.

 Beehives in a tree.
There are very few paved roads here in Ethiopia. The road we traveled was a dirt road sometimes graded, but usually not. It reminded me of roads out on the desert in Emery County or the reclamation road that crosses over to Wyoming only worse.
         We bounced along for about two hours when we came to a truck at the side of the road. To our surprise it was one of our loader drivers on his way back to the farm from Ginir with a loader tire. The truck he was traveling in had a flat tire and so they had stayed on the side of the road over night. He told us that during the night, two lions had come and walked around the area and scared him. He did not want to stay overnight there again and wanted us to turn around and take him to Beltu. We said no because we had to make it to Addis tonight to catch flights to America. So we left him there with the lions nearby and we went on to Sheik Hussein. This town is a pilgrimage town for the Muslims here in Ethiopia. I believe it is important because 100s of years ago this Sheik Husein man was instrumental in converting many of the southern tribes of people to Islam. So they honored him by building an all white mosque in his little town where he lived.

Many people during the months of May and September make the journey to Sheik Husein and I don’t know what they do there once they get there. Probably they face Mecca and pray. After driving there, I don’t know why anyone would want to make the trip. It is absolutely NOT worth the torture. I got some pics of the mosque, and it was interesting in a very muslim Ethiopian kind of way. The town itself was made of rocks. Really, the houses, fences, roads were all rocks, and I know why; because I have never seen a rockier place in my life. I thought Utah was rocky, but it is not close to Sheik Husein and the surrounding area. The area was dry and arid with lots of cactus like plants covering the terrain.

We talked to the people in Sheik Husein and asked them if the route north to Addis Ababa was a good route and if there were bridges across the rivers at the bottom of the canyons. We were assured that it was a very good route, but it would be very steep and scary for the driver who was already getting to be a pain because of his tortoise like pace. We picked up a man there who said he would guide us, if we would take him to another village on the way. At this point Bracken took over driving and we headed out of Sheik Husein. I don’t have the desire to go back to that flea bitten town.

We soon came to the first of the deep canyons that we had to travel.  Our little road wound down the sides of the canyons farther and father. I took some pictures, but I know they won’t do it justice. It was probably 45 minutes down to the bottom where there was a large dirty river churning through some farmland and immense green canopy-like trees covering the banks. It wasn’t like a rain forest, but it was very green considering what we had left up on top. We soon came to the first of the bridges and then we were climbing up the canyon back to the top. The views were spectacular and the road was narrow, rocky, and without any guardrails. If you lost your brakes going down you would be toast. However, there were copious amounts of huge boulders in the road, that had obviously fallen from the cliffs overhead into the road that could be used to stop a truck from plummeting over the side of the cliff, but a smashed grill and radiator would be the very least of the damage.

So we went up and down two more times adding on three more hours and finally came out on top into a very dry area with many people herding cattle on the road. I had to ask myself, where in the heck are these people going? It just didn’t look like they could be headed anywhere except off into the rocks and dirt. And they did not look too friendly. I realized, because they were a little different looking that these were Somali people. They wore different clothes, have a different language and were not used at all to a vehicle traveling through their dusty land. They really stared at us. I enjoyed looking out the window and trying to get some good pictures of the endless trail of women and children driving the cattle along the sides of the road.

 After a while we came to a place with a little more fertile ground and we saw some small fields and some gardens next to the huts. I saw squash plants, yams, something that looked like radishes and some corn. And all of the people have to haul water from the local watering hole. There is no such thing as a well out there. I saw watering holes by the side of the road and women and children dunking there containers in the murky dirty water to haul it home again. I believe that these women have to spend most of their time hauling water and firewood to sustain their families. Then we came to an area where they were building a lot of cell towers. Ethiopia has contracted with some Chinese company to build cell towers all over the country. Not very many of them work. There is even a phone tower being built in Beltu, but it isn’t finished either. The land started looking a little greener and more fertile as we traveled northwest.

 Alan talking on the phone to Marty.  Good grief, when he gets a signal he has to talk.
 This is Nadi or Natnael Haile.  He is hired as a financial bookkeeping type of employee.  He also is teaching the kids science and math.  He is a computer science major and his story is really cool.  I love this boy.  Such a wonderful person.  He laughs at us because we can't pronounce certain words lik "tibs" correctly, but we laugh at hime because he can't say "thistle." 

The driver's assistant saw that one of the tires was getting low so we had to stop and change it here in a very beautiful spot.  So picturesque. 
This was what I was looking at as the tire was being changed.  I said it was picturesque!  Beautiful land, beautiful colors, beautiful people, beautiful little wood-carrying donkeys.  Soooooo cool.

We stopped in a very raucous looking town, because the assistant had spied one of the tires was getting low. We found a tire changing business and Nadi and the driver ran to get some lunch. There was no way I was going to get any good food in that town, but we did buy some very dry hard bread, and a box of nasty Ethiopian cookies to munch on. This town, out of all the towns I’ve traveled through here in this country absolutely shocked me. So many chat chewers, naughty boys, and filthy children; more than usual. Bracken said it was much nicer than Ginir. If that is the case, I never want to go to Ginir.

 Looking up the main road of the town
 Looking in the opposite direction. 

Looking down a side road off the main road.         

Bracken can always entertain the locals.  Here he is with a crowd of rowdy boys in a chat-chewing town.
As we were departing I saw a naked man walking down the road. I yelled, “Hey, hey, hey, there’s a naked man over there! I need to get a picture!” But Alan laughed and just kept driving. He explained that he had seen some too while here and that it is OK. There are some tribes here that do not wear clothing, and so they just go naked. Everyone understands that it is OK and they don’t get worked up about it. Only white forenjee women get worked up about a naked man strolling through town frequenting the local businesses. I just really thought it would have been cool if I had got a picture of him.

Next we came into an area that had lots of fields of coffee beans, chat, and corn. It was a very busy area and almost every field was being worked by women weeding and men plowing with oxen and a wooden plow. I got some pictures of all this agricultural display. It was pretty cool. Alan kept saying that we needed to cross some mountains that were to our left in order to get up to Addis. Remember, there are no road signs or maps of this area out here. For that fact, there are no road signs in Addis Ababa which is the capital. You just have to know they way to get there. We stopped when we came to a T in the road which led off to the left. We stopped and asked the locals and they said we should take that road to get to Addis and I thought they said about 56 kilometers to the paved road. Hello! They must have said 256 kilometers and I just didn’t pick up on the first part. At the T in the road, Alan took his turn driving and I swear we drove and drove and drove with me thinking we were going to get on the paved road any minute. This was the most interesting part of the drive, but because I was a nervous wreck from thinking we had taken the wrong road, I couldn’t enjoy it. I was convinced that Alan and Bracken were taking us off into western Ethiopia and I kept asking, “Are you sure you know where you’re going?” Alan and Bracken weren’t worried at all and just kept talking and laughing and bumping along in our crazy van.

Every once in awhile, Bracken or Nadi would look back at me and ask if I was alright and I just kept praying that we were not headed off into some no man’s land. The area was amazing because we were in some beautiful highlands which were green and wet looking. Even as we would climb up and around the mountains we would look down and there would be clouds below us and off to the side. Half naked children would run down to the road to shout at us as we went by, jumping up and down and waving their hands, screaming and laughing. You know how in the states there are dogs that chase cars down the roads; here the cars get chased by naked dirty children. It’s funny to see little children without pants running toward you because their little bare bottoms are just out there for all to see. I think they go without pants because they’re easier to potty train. It was the longest part of the ride for me. We saw men farming on the sides of mountains growing their meager amounts of coffee and whatever else. The people looked like they were just worn out, but they did have a beautiful view. I wonder if it comforts them to know that they can wake up every morning and see that amazing view from their dung caked hut. Somehow I doubt it.

This is the best map I could make work to show you our route.  We started at the farm 90 kilometers just north east of Ginir which is in the bottom right hand corner of this map.  We headed north east toward Shek Husen on the dotted line. Then we followed the red line mostly north and came out at the place near Awash, then headed south west toward Nazeret, then northwest toward Debre Zeit and Addis.  I know it doesn't look very far, but it took us a good 14 -16 hours.  
It started getting dark as we were winding our way down out of the highlands, and we could see off in the distance some lights of a community, which is an extraordinary sight here in Ethiopia.into a city called Mechara or something like that. And then we came to Awash which was where we finally got onto the paved road that comes from the northeast area of Somalia and Djbouti. The roads are not nearly as good as you would expect them to be because they are rutted and crowded with large trucks coming and going to the ports. There are no highway weight limits here, hence you get badly rutted roads from the heavy overloaded trucks driving in the heat. Alan says that the road is possibly worse in the daylight, because people are walking on the sides of the road with animals, carts, children, etc., and you have to slow down to a crawl.

The driver wanted to drive at this point but he was terrible. He would not go faster than about 30 kilometers/ hour and he would almost pull off the side of the road when a truck passed us going the opposite direction. . Our driver decided to announce at this time that he would not drive us to Addis. He told us that he could not drive in the dark, because his van was not insured to drive after 6:00 p.m. or darkness. Holy cow! We had been driving a couple of hours in the dark. He said he would only drive as far as Nazaret, which is about 150 kilometers from Addis. Nadi had to translate all of this to us and I could tell he felt bad telling us what our crazy driver said. We had a while to get to Nazaret still, and so Alan said, “Stop this van now! We’re not going any farther until we get some things straight.” Alan was really ticked and he told him that we weren’t going to go any farther in his van unless Bracken drove. He told him that he was a terrible driver and that we didn’t trust him to get us to Nazaret. The driver was ticked off and told us that he and his van would not go past Nazaret because it was broken. So Bracken drove, while Alan made arrangements to get us from Nazret to Addis. Alan called Marty from the office and told him our predicament; Marty recommended that we call Joe for help, and Joe recommended Ashabur to us to get some help. Ashabur to the rescue! (BTW Ashabur is the branch president of a one of the branches here in Ethiopia) Ashabur arranged with a friend of his to meet us in Nazaret with a van and then to convey us to Addis. By the time we met Ashabur and his friend in Nazret, we were exhausted from our trip. In Nazret we left our van driver, his assistant, and Nadi. Nadi is from Nazret and was going to see his mom and dad whome he hadn’t seen for over a year. He was very happy and so were they. His mom jumped in the van and kissed us all because she was so happy to see Nadi.
     It was about 9:30 and we still had to get to Addis. The ride was uneventful because I couldn’t see anything because of darkness. I just want to say now at this time that I really dislike Ethiopian music. When I was in Argentina, I developed a dislike for Argentinian music. It’s just a thing that happens to me. As we were traveling, the new van driver turned up the volume on his radio and Alan, Bracken and I endured blaring, beating music that eventually gave me a terrific headache. And now I dislike Ethiopian music. We dropped Ashabur off in Debra Ziet and continued on to Addis and got here about 10:30 – 11:00 p.m. We were so relieved to have made it safely. It is the most adventurous ride I’ve ever undertaken. Half the time I didn’t know what was happening, so if we were in danger or peril, I didn’t know about it. I just tried to sit back and take it all in. We were taken to one of the guest houses – very nice – and I had a hot shower, Bracken made ramen noodles, and Alan just sat back looking stunned and exhausted. We had run the gamut of terrain and emotions and lived to tell about it.

April 11 - April 17, 2010 and Saying Goodbye

Sunday April 11, 2010

Today Alyssa’s children came by van from Shashamene. They have been traveling since Friday, I believe. Also with them, came Thicary, a nurse from the Village of Hope. He has come to assess our needs and do a little first aid training with us. He will be very surprised by all of the patients we have lined up for him.

 Thicary our nurse for two weeks

 A little girl who had a badly burned leg, a little boy with a swollen abdomen and limbs, a baby who had ulcers all over her body, and a little baby who had a scabby encrusted head and was balding from it.

Alyssas’ children are Mesafint, Mumbarek, Dambitu, Tofik and Gutama. I’m sure they were excited to be here. They seem very nice and I hope they will enjoy getting to know the farm and the people here. Thursday is Mesafint’s birthday, and he’s turning 15!

We had church today. Clair gave a talk and I led the gospel discussion and was helped by Mufasint, who seemed to have an answer for everything. We discussed the children of Israel leaving Egypt, the parting of the red sea, etc. Everyone was tired and we surely need to get a better rest on Sunday. There is too much working on the Sabbath day.

Monday April 12, 2010 and My Second Meltdown, a Parade, and a Motorbike Ride

Today is sweet Lily’s first birthday. Happy Birthday sweetie, we love and miss you so much. Today they finally fixed the stove in this house so it would work. I had been waiting for over two weeks. It was so nice to be able to cook something – anything. Our food choices are not wide or deep. We have to eat a lot of starchy foods; potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, etc. And meat is not plentiful. There is very little in the way of fresh produce. I got so ticked off on Monday morning when I still had no stove, that I had to start threatening. To cool off, I went for a walk north toward the village of Goro RaaYaa. It’s about three miles away, and I was determined to get there and look at the school. As I was walking up the road, I started collecting some company. First, just two children, a boy and a girl, started following me. I heard them talking and laughing now and then. As I continued walking, I could tell more and more people were following me. I would look back to see how many I had gathered and I had about ten and then a little farther on I probably had 20. I knew they were all curious about why the white "forenji" came to walk up their road. I wondered if they were too afraid to walk by me so I stopped to admire some cactus and a corn field hoping that they would all continue walking, but no. They all came to a stop with me and watched me look at the cactus and corn. I turned around and smiled at them and continued walking. Finally after about one mileI couldn’t stand it anymore, and I turned around and faced them and said, “Are you following me?” There was surprise on all their faces and the two children ran off into the cactus. I asked them again if they were following me, and still no reply. Then one of them got courageous and asked, “How old are you?” I said, “Fifty two, How old are you?” “What ees your name?” asked the same man. I said, “Shelley, What ees your name?” Suddenly I got several responses. It seems like they know this one phrase. So, I talked to them a little about how beautiful the cactus was and how the man who farmed the corn should be congratulated for raising such a nice crop of corn - they had no idea what I was talking about. They were so interested in looking at me, they could have cared less what was coming out of my mouth. So I carried on a little more small talk as they watched and then I just turned around and walked back the way I had come. They were very surprised that I turned and walked the other way and just stood there watching me leave. I hope they soon get used to the few Americans that are here, and I don’t have to have a parade when I walk up to Goro RaaYaa. When I came back to the farm, two farm guards came hurrying up to me and motioned that I should not be out on the road. They wanted me to go back to the house, but I tried to tell them I wasn’t finished walking and I was going to walk some more. I could tell they wanted me to go to the house, but I kept saying no. Suddenly a little phrase that Ashreka taught me came to my mind. I blurted out, “ Walkie dema jira,” and I pointed very determinedly down the road to the south. Then the guards smiled and motioned for me to go walking. Lucky I knew how to say, “I am going walking” in Oromifa. When I finally did finish my walk, which was not for another two hours, Alan and Haile joined me and we got rained on. They had come upon me as they were driving from the fields and they got out and walked home with me leaving Bracken to drive the pickup land cruiser home.

This afternoon as the stove was getting hooked up, Alan wanted to check GPS hectare information and had to ride one of the motorbikes out to the east fields where they have been clearing and plowing, and I went with him. It’s probably about three miles out. On the way we saw camels, cows, turtles, goats, filthy children and a village I had never seen. Children came running out and then there came women running out. Alan said, “Oh, that looks like one of your patients, and sure enough, one woman was carrying a little girl with a bandaged knee.

I immediately recognized the woman running toward us and told Alan to stop. She wanted us to look at the little girl who had just been down to the farm earlier that day having her leg doctored by Thicary. Soon we were surrounded by women and children who wanted to look at us and talk. Too bad Alan is such a bad conversationalist. I, on the other hand, can talk to the village women about anything. And they also don’t understand anything I say, but I can still talk a lot. We smiled and talked and then we waved good-bye and drove on. We soon came upon some of our workers (about 8 of them), far out in a field changing a tractor tire. The men in charge were the mechanics, Wubishet and a man whom Clair calls Elvis, I don’t know why.

   Wubishet is the one in Clair's coveralls.  Clair gave them to him and he thinks he's all that now. 
Elvis speaks pretty good English and has offered Clair one of his daughters for a wife if he will take her to America. The tire got changed and then they had to push the tractor to get it started. They couldn’t get it going fast enough, so they all left, leaving the tractor driver, Alan and me. Alan checked some more information, and then we tried to leave but we couldn’t, because the motorbike wouldn’t start. Alan tried and tried. I got tired of watching so I decided to walk back the way we came so I could go back to the village. When the children saw me coming up through the field, they started shouting to each other and I was soon surrounded by women and children. I really enjoy seeing these mothers and their children. This time they were much friendlier, maybe because I was without Alan. Alan too intimidating? Who knew? I sat down on a broken tree trunk because I needed a rest after walking uphill about ½ mile. They soon started to chatter and kept asking me questions. I gathered after much chatter, that they thought Alan was making me walk back to the farm by myself. They decided I needed a ride home. We could hear the roar of one of the loaders from the farm coming along the road and the oldest lady in the village, who looks like a crone because she has only two teeth and one eye, went out in the road and flagged it down. She's in the picture below and you can sort of tell how old she is.  Very spirited however.

The loader driver was going to go by her, but she wouldn’t let him pass. She made him drive down to where I was perched on my tree trunk and talk to me. He jumped down from the loader and politely asked, “may I help you?” I was happy that he spoke pretty good English and I told him I was only waiting for Alan to come and pick me up. I told him to tell them that I wanted to come and see their village and children again. He turned to the women and children and explained that I was waiting for Alan here at their village and I was happy to be there. That got a lot of smiles, and chatter. As I looked around at the good mothers and their offspring, I was suddenly filled with a very strong love for these people here in this part of Ethiopia. Many of them are so beautiful it almost takes my breath away. For the most part, the children are healthy, but very very dirty. I realize that it takes a lot of courage and faith on the part of the parents to come to the farm and ask for help from someone so strange and different. Much must be done to teach these mothers and children better hygiene. Hygiene starts with a reliable source of clean water. Something these people here in this are do not have.

Thursday April 15, 2010

Today I arose and made breakfast, oatmeal again, but yesterday I made French toast with the bread I made on Tuesday Yummy!. Thicary has been seeing all the sick and afflicted since Sunday evening. Many people have come here for us to help and now we have a qualified nurse here for two weeks to see them and teach them some better ways of coping with their health issues. Thicary says that most of the problems that he is seeing are due to bad hygiene. I believe it. He has been very upset about the water or, I should say lack of clean water, here and in the surrounding areas. He visited Gora RaaYaa on Monday and then went up to the village on the hill and reported that neither village has an acceptable drinking source. This is a big problem for this area. Both villages have dug a pond where the water can run when it rains. Of course, the ponds get used by animals and humans alike. He says they are drinking and defecating in the same water. Is it any wonder that these people have so many health problems? The wonder is that any of them are still alive. There are so many problems related to the lack of good clean water.

On the subject of water; some time in the past, the LDS church was contacted and agreed to drill a well in the area of Shashamene. The church drilled the well and put in some water lines and pumps for people living in outlying areas not close by the well. It was agreed that after the well was dug, the church would turn over the well and all pumps to the government who would then take responsibility for the well. Soon the government built fences around the pumps, locked them up, and will not let the people freely use the water. Instead the people have to pay for the water that comes out of the well. So much for trying to do good deeds. This government is keeping the people from receiving what was a gift for their villages.

Linda, Alyssa, the children and I rode down to Goro RaaYaa to go to the school and visit the teachers and children there. As we came into the school yard, the children gathered from all corners to stare and giggle. I explained to Mesafint that these children are very scared of me. The children all stood in front of their school and the teachers came out and greeted us warmly. Especially the third grade teacher. He was very friendly and spoke some good English. This school has 178 students and about 130 of those are boys. Girls are getting left behind. I told him that we wanted to come and visit the children of this village and their teachers. We asked how many grades and how many children.

Once again we gathered lots of people around who are so curious about us. Out in the school yard, surrounded by the children Linda read a story, which was translated into Oromi by the teacher for the children. Then we asked if we could visit a classroom and watch the teachers. I was so impressed by the respect the children showed at the school for their school and their teachers. They were well disciplined and quiet during teaching, maybe our presence had something to do with that, but I don’t think so. Two of the rooms were built by an NGO, and two rooms were built by the villager themselves. By US standards none of the rooms were acceptable, but here in Ehiopia, the children are just lucky that there is any kind of roofed structure they can meet in. Their work books are kept in plastic bags and each is covered in a plastic bag. Very few of the children had writing materials. There were three to four children at a desk, and no desks at all in the grades three and four which were meeting in a small manger like structure. At least, I thought it was a manger, until I peered inside and found that there were children sitting and listening to a lesson. I asked if I could go in and take pictures and I was given permission. When I went outside I found a gathering of men from the village. Quite an elderly gentleman had come to see what all the noise was about and he found Everett and me, so obviously out of place in his village school yard. I wondered if he would not talk to me, most men do not like to talk to me because I don’t wear a scarf. However, one man was daring and started to chat and ask me some questions. We had a nice conversation about why we were at the school, where I was from, what was my job, and who was my husband , and who was Everett. They really liked Everett. I told them I lived at the farm, I was going to America in a few days, I would come back, and I would visit the school again. I told them Alan was the farm director and that I had gone to a university and could be a teacher. The man asked what was the name of the university I went to, and I said Utah State University. “Ahhh, that university Utah ees very good university, yes, I know.” I got a kick out of that. I asked if I might take a picture of the men outside the school and they were glad to pose for me.

That was a really good thing, to go to GoroRaaYaa and visit that school. I’m thinking humanitarian school kits! When we got back into the van to go to the farm, Mesafint, who had been wondering why the children were so scared of me said, “Shelley, maybe the children are scared of you because they think you are a vampire.” What?  Do I look like a Vampire?  Apparently Mesafint thinks so.

Saturday April 17, 2010

Today the little plane was supposed to come to pick us up and take us to Addis. No plane. I’m so irritated and no one has a good excuse as to why the plane didn’t come. We heard that it was raining in Addis so the plane wouldn’t fly, and we heard that it was too late to fly down here and back up to Addis. And several other excuses. This has hit us hard, and we’re all feeling really upset. I had everything packed and ready to go and then they told us the news. I left and went walking because I was so mad and then I came back to the house and made some French fries with Heidi. I kept peeling and cutting and she kept frying them up. So that’s what we made for dinner. I had said good bye to everyone, and now we’re going to do it all over again. The little plane can fly down on Monday, but if it rains it won’t come. I really want to get out of here and Bracken’s flight out of Addis is on Monday night and so he doesn’t trust that the little plane will come on Monday. Bracken is for driving up to Addis, though everyone says it will take two days with a stop in either Robe or Shashamene. I can tell alan would rather wait for the plane on Monday. I think Bracken and I have just out voted him.

Wes has offered to send us out of here on the van (van and driver brought Wes and Alyssa’s children Sunday), tomorrow morning at 4:00 am. I guess that’s what we’ll do. I went down to the tents to my pretty girls and tell them I was leaving so they wouldn’t be sad when they found I had gone already. They get a little offended if I don’t do things their way sometimes. It was so cute when I said good-bye. They all hugged me and Ysriba started to cry and wouldn’t let go. She just kept saying “I luf you Shelley, I luf you Shelley.” She even came up to the house by herself in the dark to sit with me one more time and tell us goodbye. She said “I luf you Shelley and Alin. I luf Alin and Shelley.” She’s such a sweetie. So we’re leaving and Bracken and Nadi are going with us in the morning.

Saying Goodbye to the Maids and Zakir

Zakir, Birka, me, Ysriba and Ashreka kneeling.  Zakir and Birka are siblings.  Zaakir only has one change of clothing.  I'm taking some clothes for him next trip.  Probably something of Zacks.  He is 19 years old and sends all of his money home to his parents.  Zakir takes care of all the animals here. 
 Birka and me.  Birka is 17 and bossy.  She is darn cute and is a pretty good maid.  She is from Beltu.  Birka speaks pretty good English and finished 10th grade.  I met her mother one day and she was the first lady I met here in Ethiopia that was heavy.  

Ashreka and me.  Ashreka's marents married her to a man when whe was just 15.  She is now 17.  She left her husband and I think she has a baby, but she won't admit it to me.  The other maids tell me that she does.  She said her husband wouldn't work and chewed chat all day, so she left him.  I don't know how that works in this Muslim area.  She is one of the hardest working girls here. She is good at butchering chickens.

This is Keay.  She comes from Ginir.  She is Wubishet's sister and has gone to university for two or three years.  She is a soccer coach, but has come to be our maid for a while.  She is much more knowledgeable about things than the other maids and speaks pretty good English.  She is a very good worker too. She is good at skinning chickens.
 This is Ysriba.  She is the sweetest of all the maids and she is the best laundry washer too.  She loves to pet me, as you can see.  She is 19 and comes from Beltu I think.  She has a lazy eye, but she would be a great catch, cause she is so sweet and knows how to take care of laundry well.  Ysriba also knows how to butcher chickens.

This is our shy little Misra.  She mainly works for Heidi and Mark, but will come and do things at my house too.  She is a sweetheart. 

It really is hard to say goodbye to all these people.  I have talked to Wes and Alyssa and they will have all the maids stay even though we won't be there for them to help.  I was glad to hear that, for I have grown attached to them.