Thursday, December 10, 2009


This is a week of feasts in our small town.  It is the final week that we are here before we move on to our permanent sites and all the host families seem to want us over for a meal.  Last night we had a huge meal of doro (chicken), injera, gomen (various greens), dabo (bread), rice, carrots, misr wat (a spicy sauce), quinoa wat (I'm not really sure what this is, but it's similar to couscous), soft drinks, muz (bananas), and bunna (coffee).  It was a fantastic meal and the chicken was the best meat I've had here in country outside of a restaurant.
Saturday, Peace Corp is holding an appreciation dinner for the host families and volunteers.  Sunday, another host family is having us over for lunch and we are having pasta and some arabian dish.  For supper we are going to another house, then for supper on Monday night we are going to one other house.  It's crazy, but it makes me feel so good that they want to do something so nice for us.  We will definitely miss this place that we have lived for the last 8 weeks, but we are looking forward to our next location.


Today was the best day I've had here in country so far.  I woke up at 4:45 this morning because our group was going on a hike to see the sunrise.  At 5, when I was still brushing my teeth, my family called me to tell me that Alabama beat the daylights out of Florida to win the SEC Championship and put them in the National Championship game.  After that I was literally floating on cloud nine all day long.
Our hike was a success and we had quite a bit of fun, even though it was pretty chilly.  Later that day, we went with our entire group to an area that has several lakes for a field trip that PC treated us to.  We had lunch and just hung out by the lake, it was a very nice day.
Also, this week I typed up my first entry into the PC Ethiopia newsletter.  It's a sports column as many could have guessed.  I'm not much of a writer, but I really enjoyed it and I hope I can continue to do it.  Well that's all for now, hopefully I'll have more to write later.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Today, in the muslim community, is a big holiday called Arafa. Basically, the muslims celebrate the obedience of Abraham in taking Isaac up to the mountaintop to sacrifice him. As a Christian, I'm a little confused by this, but I plan on finding out a little more about it. Either way, it's a big celebration with lots of food. Our host family is muslim, so almost the entire family was here for the feast. They had bought a cow 2 weeks ago specifically for this celebration and even offered to show Kimberly when they slaughtered it. She very quickly declined that invitation. She said if she saw that, she probably would never be able to eat beef again.

Our host mother invited our entire group over for some food from the celebration. Unfortunately, we were not able to eat much of the beef. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this yet in my posts, but a very popular dish here is called kitfo. It's basically raw beef, finely
chopped and soaked in butter. When we were going around the table, my host brother from out of town said, "this is beef, do not be scared of it." I asked him, "cooked or not cooked" because the lights were off. Right at that moment someone cut the lights on and I could see the
pinkness...sadly, I had to pass. The rest of the food was delicious though, including some beef in which they had cut it into small chunks and charred it. I've come to the conclusion that they eat meat in two forms...raw and charred beyond recognition. The beef though was really good, it had the taste of unsalted fatback, hmmmmm.

This has been quite the week for feasts here in Ethiopia.

**Update 11/29/2009
It has been raining quite a bit since yesterday. We are very thankful
for this. hopefully, it will cause the river to swell and bring water
to the whole community.


So, everything Thursday the entire group of PCT's all get together at
a hotel in a nearby town for what is called hub day. Basically, we
have training sessions all day long on our job or health or saftey and
security. It was perfect then that we were all together on
Thanksgiving day. Every week the Peace Corp assigns 2 current PCV's
to come to our training sessions and help out. This week these 2
girls wanted to make sure that we got a good Thanksgiving meal to have
since we were away from home...they succeeded.

We had garlic mashed potatoes, roasted chicken, corn on the cob,
chicken gravy, 3 kinds of jello, chocolate cake, and funfetti cake.
Granted the food still had the taste of Ethiopian food and it wasn't
exactly the feast we would have at home, but it was still incredible.

Also, the PCT's are divided up into 4 towns and so we had 2 of the
towns dress up as Indians and 2 of the towns dress up as pilgrims.
Our town drew the pilgram town and we went crazy with that, complete
with hats, belt buckles, aprons, ties, and muskets. If you get my
emails maybe I can send some pictures of the event. I'm sorry that I
couldn't be with my family in Tennessee watching Alabama beat up on
Auburn, but this was the absolute best alternative.


So there's a drought in our town right now...sort of. It's not that
it hasn't rained in forever or anything, but even a short period
without rain causes problems here, and they don't exactly have water
resevoirs like we do in the states. The power is hydroelectric, so it
goes off and on when there's little rain. If there's little rain then
the pump at the river doesn't work as often and the families in the
town can't get very much water. This means that Kimberly and I can't
wash clothes here at the compound, so today we trekked down to the
river to do that. It was a long walk, and it was a little difficult
because people were staring at us the entire time, but it was actually
faster than washing them at the compound. I never thought I'd say
this, but I like washing my clothes at the river. It was an
interesting experience.

Later today we went to a party that we were invited to at a fellow
PCT's host family's house. So apparently, the heads of the households
from the town all get together at someone's house once a month for a
feast. It's on a rotating basis, and this month it happened to be at
this family's house. We were invited because the family wanted to do
something for Thanksgiving for us, since it was coming up. It was
quite the feast, complete with injera, bag (sheep) wat, dinnich
(potato) wat, misr wat, talla (a homemade alcoholic drink), and arake
(another homemade alcoholic drink).

A quick note about talla and arake and also tej (another homemade
alcoholic drink). These are very popular almost everywhere you go in
Ethiopia, but our small little town has its fair share of tallabets
(basically houses where they just sell talla). It's kind of like
Canon, GA with their liquor stores and bars. I'm not sure exactly
what's in talla, but it looks the color of sludge and the consistency
of murky water. I've been told by people who like alcohol that it's
pretty disgusting. Tej is some mix of alcohol and honey and I've
heard from some it's awful and from some that it's pretty good. I
think it probably depends on where it's made. Arake I haven't heard
much about the taste. It looks like vodka and I've been told it has
close to the alcoholic content of vodka.

Well, that's all for now, but we are looking forward to Thanksgiving
here as we have a big feast planned.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Tonight, I was noticing the stars here in our small town. It's kind
of hard not to notice them here, they are so brilliant. You just find
yourself staring and you look very strange. One of the volunteers has
been asked on multiple occaisions if we have stars in America. In
America, it always fascinates me to look at the stars because it's
pretty stunning how many there are. Here in our small town in
Ethiopia, you can probably see twice as many as you can in most places
in America. Even out in rural Georgia, where Kimberly and I went to
school, there was more light pollution than here.

In my town, when the sun goes down, it's dark. There are no street
lights in our town, the shops and restaurants aren't open after dark,
so it is really dark here. It's one of those things that I wish I
could take a picture of it and send it back to my family and friends,
but it wouldn't do it justice. It reminds me of the John Mayer song
"3x5" where he's singing about how he didn't take any pictures because
he would rather tell the person about what he saw rather than just
show a picture. Maybe one day I can bring someone back to Ethiopia
with me and I can show them what I've seen. It's one of the most
gorgeous things I have ever seen.


Today, we spent the day at our training site and actually got back to
our town pretty late (around 7). It started off bad because we
couldn't use the internet at lunch because the power was out in the
city, and then we hadn't gotten our mail yet. But then we got our
mail and Kimberly and I had not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 pieces of mail.
A card from her family, a card from her grandmother, a package from
her family, and a package from my family. The packages were filled
with soap, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, summer sausage, cheese, candy,
peanut butter, Relevant Magazine, a puzzle book, Cheez-Its, beef
jerky, Vicks Vaporub, and a few other things. The soap and hand
sanitizer couldn't have come at a better time as we ran out today.
Also, Kimberly has a cold now so the Vicks is extremely beneficial as

Also, after we got back to our site, we went over the house of a
fellow trainee to celebrate her 23rd birthday. It was probably the
best birthday party I have ever been to. Her host family had
literally gone all out and made cake, juice, french fries, and
cookies. They even had these flare looking fireworks for her to hold
while we sang Happy Birthday. For all of this to be accomplished in
some small town in Ethiopia literally shows how awesome her family is
and how much effort they put into it. I know if I were spending my
birthday on the other side of the world without any family or close
friends it would be incredibly hard, but they really went above and
beyond to make her feel like part of their family.