Ethiopia

Finally, Internet! I missed you my friend.

The last few days have been a whirldwind, filled with meetings, briefings, icebreakers, and training.

We have been isolated in an incredible hotel for the past few days. With classes during the day, and interviews and inoculations at night, we hadn’t gotten the chance to venture outside. Today was our first day outside the hotel. Today was a big day.

The following are ten generalizations and smaller details that stuck out to me this first week:

1.  I’m a rockstar here. A celebrity. As I walk down the street people stop and stare. Children run up to me, shake my hand and smile. They chant, “Ferenji, Ferenji” which basically means “white boy.” They mean it in the most endearing way possible. Finally, people are starting to understand, I’m really really cool.

2. Oddly enough, the other nickname kids have for us is “CHina, China!” showing just how isolated they are. A for effort.

3. The weather here is perfect. 70 degrees, sunny, cool breeze. Year round

4. I’m a little ashamed about my first thougth on Ethiopian soil. I thought, this place looks like…Africa. Kids playing with soccer balls made in 1940, rickshacks build on top of rickshacks, people selling fried something on the street as cars pass by that have no business running. Yep, this is Africa

5. My second thought: holy shit. I’m in Africa

6. Ethiopia is beautiful. The people and the country. We have seen pictrues and videos of the places we will visit. The capital city is higher than denver. The bale and simean mountains are pretty spectacular. Elephants hang out with babboons and zebras. Lions try and eat them. Believe it or not, The movie “The Lion King” was filmed here.

7. The people have a good nature and positive disposition. The hotel staff is incredible. They understand why we are here and greeted us by placing their hands on their hearts and pounding it a couple times while doing a slow bow. Very very genuine.

8. I became friends with one younger hotel staffer. I showed him my nice soccer ball and he stared at it for several minutes. We were fast friends, and I showed him pictures of my family and girlfriend, Carly. (I know I mentioned her three times in my very short first post, so i promise to completely ignore her in this one.)

9. I miss Carly. And my family. Not being able to communicate with them has been really hard. I promise I am safe, getting fat(ter) and looking forward to your visits.

10. Fianlly, I am very excited about my potential job. Athough i’m not positive, I will likely be working with Ethiopians to create jobs and business through their natural resources. Specifically, working with honey and coffee farmers to find a market for their goods, and increase their efficiency in a sustainable way. I will also probably teach kids, adults, hold HIV awareness conferences, and do agricultural work. I will be at or near a national park. I’m excited. I have also been working with the staff to make sure I will have internet access and cell phone capabilities to the U.S.

Now, start planning your vacation for next summer. Beers are about 20 cents, the food is great, and I can put a blanket on the dird floor or something when you come.

Just kidding, I can buy a bed for the equivalent of my middle school allowance.

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T-Minus 2 days…

Tuesday, September 21st 2010

My flight leaves for Ethiopia in less than 48 hours. I think my head is going to explode. My heart is pounding. My mom is frantically trying to pack 4,000 things I will probably never need into a duffel bag the size of my car.  I brought enough deodorant and advil for the next century. Regardless, I fully anticipate being sick and smelling like curry for the better part of the next two years.

I said my first goodbye’s last night. It was tougher than I thought.

I will miss my family. I will miss my relatives as well (shout out to my cousins) . I will miss all my friends something awful– the 1161 boys, the hills crew–and definitely Jennings, Hawkins, and the Deane family.

Saying bye to my mom and dad will break their hearts. Saying bye to my girlfriend will break my heart. She’s a lot prettier than I am. (and smarter too…she designed this blog)

The craziest part of all of this is how little I know about what I will be doing. I will be working as a business adviser in the resource management and tourism sector.  I train for three months near the capital city before being placed. Hopefully, I will be in a place like this:

http://www.canyonsworldwide.com/africa/pages/simien.htm

I will finish this post with a couple of goals I have for my trip:

1. To do some good for some people who deserve it

2. To better understand whats important.

3. To grow closer to my girlfriend, even though I’m half the world away

4. To leave the places I travel to with a better understanding of myself and to leave a bit of myself in those places that I travel to  (See how I did that?)

5. To play soccer with some Africans. I’m really excited about a few particular items I packed: A soccer pump and 5 deflated soccer balls–to give as gifts to the kids in the community I live in. I will be posting my address soon…if (when) you send me a care package, include a cheap deflated soccer ball.

6. And finally, and most importantly, to share with the 3rd world the amazing talents of Justin Beiber

Now, start planning your next vacation for Ethiopia. Bring socks, soccer balls, and my girlfriend with you.