Hey guys, remember me?
The last two weeks have been a blur, and I can finally say, time is starting to pass quickly. I’ve officially moved into my house in Bonga, my new home.
My days have been spent working on making my life comfortable and my room livable. Those of you who know me well, know how carefully I will decorate and organize my room. It can become almost obsessive but the rewards are worth it. Life is a lot easier when Home feels like Home. So I’ve replaced the dirt floors with a plastic covering, made a nice bed, painted and covered my walls and set up a small kitchen. I even bought a spare mattress for when you visit me.
My last days in Addis Alem were full of tears and anxiety. My host family cried every night for the week leading up to my departure. Fetsom, the 9 year old, ran away the day I left because he didn’t want to say goodbye. They were as emotional as I was anxious. Personally, I was ready for some alone time. Ready for some sleep! Ready to become a volunteer and start doing something. We had been cooped up for almost 3 months training and learning the language and were about to be released into the wild. We headed to our swearing in ceremony, where we had the privelage of meeting the President of Ethiopia. He shook our hands, handed us a certificate, and with that, we were off.
Last summer, the concept of being alone in a remote African town seemed daunting. Now, I couldn’t wait.
Spending the past months with 33 Peace Corps Volunteers was incredibly fun. I made close friends, fast. These were the kinds of guys who brought out the best, and worst, in me. It was like being back in college, constantly joking and having a blast. But a large part of me was aching to get away.
I would say the biggest personal reason for coming here was to figure out more about myself and become a better person. Being with awesome people brought out my social and extroverted self, but that’s not who I came here to be.
Secondly, I was very excited at the idea of becoming entirely independent. And I can honestly say the process of relying on myself has been very therapeutic. I cook, clean, and do my laundry.
Yes Mom, you read that. I know, hard to believe.
For example, yesterday afternoon was a busy day for me: I cooked and I did the dishes.
Yet, this was an all day event. I walked through the jungle for 40 minutes to the store that sells eggs. Then I headed to another store for some onions and garlic. Finally I bought a pound of potatoes.
By the time I got home, peeled the potatoes, roasted them until slightly burnt, and fried the eggs on top, the sun was setting. I washed the dishes while listening to some Otis Redding and called it a day. A very productive day I’d say.
So this is life in the Peace Corps. I am in the process of working with an orphanage, honey farmers, a coffee co-op, and the tourism office. However, just as with cooking, working here takes a great amount of patience. Everything moves slowly here, and worrying over fast results is counter-productive. I have big dreams but letting these develop rather than forcing them is likely the better strategy.
This has been the lesson so far: So much of the Peace Corps is about slowing down. I’m losing my obsession with time, losing this American obligation to the clock. Back home, we are all so connected to the seconds and minutes. We display the time on our watches, cell phones, ipods, alarm clocks, microwaves, radios, and computers. Being on time is being late.
Here in Ethiopia, showing up is being early. Here, we have the sun.
In some ways this lifestyle is better, and in some ways it is worse. However it is certainly more relaxing.
Thoughts of the week:
- The music that I have to listen to during my walk into town is hilarious. Out of a mud hut, a boom box will blast either: Avril Lavigne, Jay-Z or Celine Dion. The Ethiopian obsession with Celine Dion is hilarious. Even funnier is listening to them rap Jay-Z songs in their African accents.
- I’ve gotten 5 marriage proposals so far. When I declined, all 5 asked me if I had a brother. Luke, you have some prospects down here. One even handed me a picture and a letter in broken English asking to become your wife. Something to think about I guess.
- The best proposal came from my neighbor, Sedenya, age 5. She came over with her photo album, a plastic ring, and told me she loves me. She is painfully cute.
- Like I said, I will likely be coming home the father of an adopted child.
- The most homesick you’ll ever get is when you are sick. And far from home.
- Its just not Christmas when its 80 degrees out. I’ve always loved summer, and thought living in San Diego would be wonderful. But I think the best part of home is the seasons.
- That being said, wouldn’t it be nice to get a break from the cold and come here for a week? Think about it…
- So far here is what I’ve gathered about what is on the mind of any given Ethiopian on any given day.
7. I can’t help but think my Peace Corps experience isn’t quite authentic. However I won’t complain. Having the ability to video chat with Carly has been absolutely amazing. I often think about those in the Military who leave their wives behind– and how what I’m doing pales in comparison to them. That takes balls.