So much has happened in the past few days, although I haven’t actually done anything. Today is Wednesday May 5, 2010. Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Yesterday I made it to the Gladney office and got a taste of Ethiopian reality. I spent the morning with my new best friend/taxi guide/translator/life-line, Yemamu. He has an incredible story! I am going to ask him if it’s okay to share it here. Anyway, after getting to know one another, we go to the tourist shop where I get incredible feedback regarding the necklaces. Although I was scarce on details, the woman running the shop was really excited. The other girls? They were missing because today was the opening of a Bazaar on the other side of Addis, and they were preparing things to sell at the fair.
So in typical Ethiopian fashion, Yemamu needs to get something from his home, on the walk there, literally the length of 3 NYC short blocks, we stop in 2 hair salons and an office looking place, just to sit and chat. Then we get to the home, the gate is locked and Yemamu left the key at Gladney. Ok so we start to walk back, but no, let’s just stop in here for a Macchiato (the coffee beverage of choice). Needless to say, we never go the key, never got the something, but we did accomplish a lovely leisurely stroll and an espresso boost.
Afterward I went over to the foster care home for babies and toddlers and where I will be reading shortly. I arrived after lunch, at what I assumed was nap time. I am very excited to get the kids out and reading.
Today, I started learning the taxi system. Should be easy, considering there is a person calling out all the stops, however they say this so fast and combine all the words that it sounds to me like a bunch of jibber-jabber. The only place I can accurately identify is Mexico. Yes, there is a sub-city in Addis named Mexico. We practiced the taxis by taking them to the Bazaar, which was only being set up when we got there. But I learned that the government gifts the booths to micro-enterprises as an incentive to keep them motivated, it seems like a good plan, except that they close the actually business in favor of a booth for 5 days.
After which I had my first traditional Ethiopian lunch. For the first time can’t say I love the food. Personally I thought the injera tasted and looked like a moldy sponge. I suppose I should get used to it, it is served with everything! The meat was okay, however I was distracted by the tables around us eating it totally, utterly and completely raw. I don’t think it’s called carpaccio either when you are cutting off hunks of fat and it’s definitely not cured, this is going to be a new one for me stomach (pun intended). Love the wine though. It’s called tudge and it a little bubbly, made with honey and has this fermented sweetness to it. It is the color of orange juice and served in a science beaker, so delicious.
Later, we drove over to one of the Government orphanages to drop off a care package from an eager family. Never have I seen a little girl so excited by bubbles and bouncy balls and Reece’s peanut-butter eggs. Then she so generously shared her M&M’s with the other children flocking the door even though “they were mean to her sometimes.” She put on the flip-flops from the package, and immediately thought to give her sneakers to one of her friends because she no longer needed them. In the package was a letter with a picture of all her new siblings, and she repeatedly kissed each one of them in the picture with such enthusiasm I thought she might rip the paper. And while I have a mouthful to say about the orphanage, for the moment, I want to enjoy that moment and the tremendous smile on this little girls face and in her eyes.
So that’s life on this side of the Atlantic (and almost to the Indian).