Friday, December 26, 2014

The Trip to Hailu's House

Now that we've been here a while, our coworkers are starting to invite us to their houses for coffee and snacks. It's really awesome because I feel like the community is really welcoming us to Durame and accepting us into their lives and culture. Yay, for integration! :)

A few weeks ago, we went with my coworker, Hailu, to the place where he grew up out in the country. After walking about 45 minutes out of town, we turned down a narrow road lined with plants and shaded by towering eucalyptus trees. It was beautiful already.

We met his brother and his family and his mother at the house where he grew up. His mother is very old and missing quite a few teeth, but very friendly and kind. She was very impressed with my limited Kambatissa (local language) skills and laughed deeply as I greeted her, showing all of the few teeth she has left.

Hailu was eager to show us around the whole place and we were happy to see how an Ethiopian farm works. First, we saw the barn, where the cows, goats, sheep, chickens, and his mother sleeps. See the picture below to see her bed, tucked into a back room of the barn. The corn hanging from the ceiling are seeds for next year. The cows are just to the right of the frame. Under where the corn is, is the pen for the goats and sheep to sleep at night.

As we toured the farm, we saw all kinds of fruit, vegetables, and grains. There were big avocado trees and swooping gishta trees, clumps of banana trees and single incet (false banana), small, sprightly coffee trees and thick mango trees, alight with blooms. We saw cabbage, sugar cane, bush beans and fields of golden tef, the grain they use to make the national dish, injera. It was absolutely amazing how many foods they were growing and how healthy everything looked, including the plump babies running around the house. :)

After the tour, we tried some sugar cane. It was our first time eating it and I must say, that stuff it tough!! First you have to whack a piece off with a knife. Then you have to take off the outsides with your teeth and spit it on the ground, you don't eat the purple part. Then finally, you have to gnaw a piece of the inside off, chew it a bit, suck the sweet juice out and spit it out. You don't actually swallow any of it but the juice. It is seriously hard work. My teeth were getting a work out! As you can see from the picture below, the kids were highly amused at my suffering.

Of course, no trip to an Ethiopian's house would be complete without having coffee and some snacks. We had bread, some delicious red beans, too many bananas to count, avocados and tiny cups of deliciously strong coffee. It's amazing that every single thing we had was probably grown within a mile (or closer!) of where we were sitting enjoying it.
On the walk home, in the afternoon sun, we caught a great view of Ambericho Mountain (the same one we can see from our living room window!).

Then we met up with a group of boys going to the market to sell matches. They were very friendly and wanted to speak with us. We used all the Amharic we could and then some. We asked them some simple English questions and a few could answer. They were a lot of fun!

It was a really great day. Ethiopian hospitality never ceases to amaze me. The kindness and love shown to us does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Durame and its people have found a place in my heart.

Buna Blossoms

I spotted these coffee blossoms in my compound a couple weeks ago. Aren't they lovely?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

On IST and Heading Home

Last week we traveled to Addis for a week long training, called IST (In Service Training) or Reconnect. It was a chance for our training group to get back together and talk about how everything is going at site. We shared experiences, specifically about what is working and not working at school, and we all left with some good ideas of things we can implement at our own sites. We also got to learn some more things from Peace Corps staff and learn about how we will report our work to them throughout our service.

At night, we explored Addis and it was so much fun! I can not even express how much we enjoyed it. We ate as much food as we possibly could and drank fancy cocktails and cold beers to our hearts' content. It was magical and such a great time to hang out with our fellow G11s, who are some of the coolest, best people I know. We are all going through this service together and that instantly bonds us. We received the same training, are all teaching English to high school students at our sites, and we are all trying to improve our students' abilities so that they can receive a higher education and make their country and this world a better place. I felt like I was with family and there is nothing one misses most this time of year than family.

And then the week ended, leaving all of us hungover, dehydrated, and extremely sad to be leaving it all behind. We won't have another whole group get together like this until October—10 months away. Leaving was very difficult. I didn't want to go back to my site away from all the friends and food I had enjoyed over the past week. As I hugged everyone goodbye, I never wanted to let go.

On the morning we were headed back to Durame, Spencer and I were eating breakfast and talking about what kinds of things we want to do at our school, beyond our primary project of direct teaching. We were making plans and bouncing ideas off each other. It was exciting to think about what kinds of activities we could do, but I was still sad. I told Spencer this and he agreed. Then he started talking about how lucky we were just have the training at all and how lucky we are to have such amazing people sharing this experience with us all over Ethiopia. Leave it to Spencer to think of the bright side.  He was right and it helped me some, but I was still a bit down.

We left breakfast and headed to the bus station. When we found our bus to Durame and boarded a guy at the front asked me, “Kambatgnyayichallal?” Which is Amharic for “Can you speak Kambatissa?” (the local language in our town). I replied by greeting him in Kambatissa, and the whole bus erupted in whoops and cheers. In that moment, I felt love. I felt all the welcoming handshakes and invites to coffee we get in town. I felt the pride that the Kambatissa people have concerning their language and culture. I felt all the kindness coworkers, students, and neighbors have shown to me and Spencer over the past three months. All the negativity vanished. We were going home.

Sunrise on the Road

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ambericho Mountain During Harvest

Ambericho Mountain during harvest time, all the golden squares are fields. This is the view from our house. How lucky are we??! :)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas in Durame

I love Christmas but it's the hardest time of year to be away from all my family and friends back home. I try to stay as jolly as I can and decorating for Christmas really helps. I love crafting, and making decorations while watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music really gets me in the spirit. This year, I made a Christmas and tree and ornaments out of paper and hung it on the wall. Even though it doesn't live up to the beauty of a real Christmas tree, I love it all the same. Merry Christmas everyone!!!