Pearls of Waidmann

• I hate goodbyes. There is something maddeningly depressing about a final goodbye. I won’t see Carly for months – months of bad communication and a pretty big dose of loneliness. Seeing her walk away is REALLY hard.

• It’s really depressing being a DC sports fan.

• I’m reading an awesome book, Moonwalking with Einstein. It’s all about the power of memory, and how the art of remembering has been lost over time. It is the true account of a journalist who studies for one year and wins the U.S. Memory Championship. One man he studies with can look at a deck of cards for 32 seconds, and remember the exact order of the entire deck.

• Text of the week: “CARLY HAVE A NICE JORNY. WE LOVE BOTH OF U. THANK U ABOUT ALL GOD BLESS” — from the amazing soul of Yohanes Bekele

• Finding Forrester is an incredible film.

• I’m starting to give serious thought to what I want to do when I get home. I’m not anxious or worried, more so curious. I feel as though I have so many options. I’ve thought about trying to find a job on the Hill, writing for a magazine or publication, or going to Grad School. Then I hear of volunteer opportunities in Tanzania and Sri Lanka and my mind starts to wander…If you have any ideas, let me know!

• I love learning languages. I was happy to realize the other day that I haven’t lost my ability to understand Spanish. My Amharic has gotten to the point where I can teach a lesson or hold a meeting in the language. So I’ve turned my efforts to the local language, Kaffa Nono.

• My first Kaffa Nono lesson: At a restaurant, I often ask waiters for “Shiro.” Shiro is the word for a chickpea-like bean that is cooked with garlic and spices, and served over Injera. Often times the waiter laughs.  The way I pronounce Shiro, (with an unrolled R) translates to me saying something entirely different. “Do you have Penis today? Great, I’ll have the Penis.” “Wait! excuse me sir, I like my penis spicy with extra garlic”

• In my opinion, the Diversity Lottery, or DV for short, is the greatest foreign policy tool . It’s responsible for the diversity of life in America and why we get to eat at amazing Ethiopian restaurants or enjoy Peruvian roast chicken. (Shout out to Crisp and Juicy). It also has done so much to increase investment and bring wealth to developing nations. If they ever try and end the DV, I will be out on the Independence Avenue with a sign, some friends and some fried Yucca.

• My blog tells me what folks search for before clicking on my link. Here’s a great Google search:

“Ethio big boobs Konjo.” (Konjo means beautiful in Amharic.) I have a feeling the searcher did not find what they were looking for.

• Some kids here say hilarious things as you pass them on the street. They will say, “WHATS HUP, MI-Keel JACKSON!” or something strange. My favorite though has to be the kid, who said matter-of-factly as he walked by me, “Hello Yes! Horse. GREEN! Circle. Good MORNING. Thank You!” A nice tour of every English word he knew


Friends Forever

In the third or fourth grade, a friend of mine gave me a magnet that still sits on my refrigerator at home. It was a picture of a Labrador and it said, “May I always be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.”

The contrast to how Americans and Ethiopians view dogs could not be more different. In America, dogs are part of the family. They are our friends and companions. We can tell them secrets and they develop distinct personalities. They begin to understand us, and know when we are sad or happy. We spoil them rotten, and in turn they give us unconditional love.

In Ethiopia, Dogs get in the way. They serve little purpose, outside of securing a home and are often killed in the hundreds by way of poisoned meat. Anyone who is thinking of Joining the Peace Corps and loves animals should be prepared to see some tough things.

I was prepared, I thought.

My compound family is a rare family that treats dogs with respect. We have had a total of 7 dogs throughout my time here. Upon my arrival, I fell for one of them.

Her name was Jibby (Translation: My Hyena) and she was beautiful. She would respond to my whistle by running as fast as she could until she crashed into my legs. She learned shake and sit down in an afternoon and had a terrific disposition. She was certainly mischievous but loved to love. We were smitten.

What does a mischeivous nature and a love of love lead to?  She got pregnant. A few months after I arrived she gave birth to nine (NINE) puppies.

She was a great mother and super protective. She cried really hard the day we gave the puppies away.

She was such a good mother, she decided she wanted to give it a second try! A year into my service, my puppy had given birth to 16 dogs. Sorry Bob Barker.

Carly was here with me and we had an amazing time watching the little things grow up. One day, Jibby was relaxing when we played a clip of one of her puppies crying. She panicked, and went to the puppy house, grabbed one in her mouth and brought it back to where she was previously resting. Then we played the clip again. She ran to get another puppy. We kept the whimpering sound going and she kept retrieving her pups one by one. Carly and I marveled at how hilarious it was, and how endearing. She was a great Mom. Eventually, I felt bad and brought the other pups to her.

One night, Jibby went crazy. She started to act really aloof. We wondered if it was Rabies, but she seemed to snap out of it. At night, she was back to her role as mother, selflessly giving up her milk.

Carly opened the window the next morning to a truly depressing sight. It will probably live with us forever. Our landlords nephew was killing Jibby, slowly, with a large stick. She was crying.

Jibby had bitten three people, and instead of tying her up to see if it was Rabies, they decided to kill her. I told Carly to stay as I checked on the pups. They had all been killed by their mother, save for two. It’s hard in times like this not to blame yourself. I wish I had done something.

The two three-week old survivors were shaking in a corner, surrounded by their dead brothers and sisters. It was very painful for a dog lover to go through. I thought about not sharing this story, but it would be like telling a lie. The Peace Corps experience is full of tough lessons, and sad realities.

In the coming weeks, we have been taking care of the survivors who neither developed rabies nor seemed too shaken by their rough beginnings. They are just normal puppies who love exploring, drinking powdered milk, and reciprocating our love. They are a good lesson in how life goes on, even after tragedy.

The joy of dog ownership comes at a cost that almost negates years of happinesss. For those of us who love dogs, their deaths are tragic. Dogs are pure and innocent; their sole job is doling out affection. So losing a dog is like losing a perfect friend. If there is solace in this pain, it is in the realization that we gave them a good life. It is a reminder to love others as much as we loved them and to be the kind of people our dogs think we are.

RIP Jibby

Everything you need to know about Ethiopia, you can learn on the bus.

Feel free to add some more! 

  1. Everything is shared. If your neighbor has fruit or peanuts, he will offer you most of it. Likewise, if you have some, you better offer it to your peers.
  2. Space is also shared. There is no concept of personal space.
  3. There is no concept of time. A destination is either near (Kirb) or far (Ruuk). Mostly it is near, regardless of the distance.
  4. Greetings last 5 minutes.
  5. Ethiopian music is the only music in the world.
  6. Except of course, for Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, and Eminem
  7. Religion is everything. More so, Religion is everywhere.
  8. Wind is evil.
  9. There is a distinct smell everywhere you go. It is a combination of three of any of the following things:
  10. Burning trash. Roasting Coffee. Body sweat mixed with an old woolen three-piece suit. Burning Incense. Dirt. Orange Peel. Cow manure. Mix three and enjoy!
  11. Two to a seat.
  12. If there is an extended silence, you are expected to talk.
  13. Closing all the windows and creating a sauna like environment will reduce the spread of disease 🙂
  14. Khat, a widely used drug: “It will make you STRONG in the MIND!!!” (It won’t)
  15. When boarding a bus, Ethiopian hospitality goes out the window. First come, first serve.
  16. Anything worth doing, gets done early. Daylight is for coffee breaks.
  17. Style beats substance. The dashboard of the bus will look more comfortable than your seat.
  18. Only guys pee
  19. You don’t talk on your cell phone. You scream on your cell phone.
  20. Sure I broke the law, but how dare you punish me for it!
  21. Wait, sorry about that — Three to a seat.
  22. Tailbones are for pussies.
  23. So are knees.
  24. It wasn’t awkward until you asked me to ‘play with you’… Now it’s awkward.
  25. Being hot is welcome.
  26. Being cold is the worst imaginable punishment.
  27. Ethiopia is incredibly diverse.
  28. Ethiopia has 84 languages. If you don’t know the local one however, you suck.
  29. However if you know three words of the local language, you are the most brilliant person in the world.
  30. Coffee is life.
  31. But don’t you dare bring it on the bus. Customs checks will nab you.
  32. Ethiopians will often walk 20 miles to get to the market. But the bus better stop directly in front of their house.
  33. I mean DIRECTLY
  34. Towns have specialties. You stop in one town so everyone can buy discounted onions. 30 km down the road you can get good, cheap Khat. The next town down has the best oranges.
  35. There are no trashcans, save for the bus floors and gutters.
  36. Ethiopians get sick from the bus more often than foreigners get sick from the food.
  37. Everything here breaks.
  38. Then everything is somehow put back together. Often times by splashing water on it.
  39. Ethiopia has some amazing landscapes.
  40. The pecking order of domesticated animals: Cow > Horse > Donkey > Sheep > Goat > Chickens > Cats > anything else with four legs > every other known animal that could may one day be domesticated > Dogs
  41. Yeah it’s sad, but a bus will swerve for a chicken but not a dog.
  42. there is no concept of the individual. Only the community.
  43. For example: You don’t say, “This is MY stop” You say, “there IS a stop.”
  44. You can never underestimate the value of a paved road.
  45. The ride is bumpy. There are ups and downs. It is cramped and uncomfortable. People are sick and throwing up and we all smell terrible. But, hey we’re all on this ride together.

A handful of photos

Here are some photos I grabbed from Carly before she left. It’s only from her last roll, and they are kind of random — but I hope you enjoy!


This is my amazing landlord and his wife for more on the Hope Academy

My Amharic tutor, and basketball friendThe two survivors from the rabies outbreakPotentially the future site of a school/orphanageMy wonderful Ethiopian Family, Yohanes, Alemua and FreoThis is an embarassing photoThe Chiri Orphanage runs a sheep farm. Here are the latest additionsEthiopians have the nicest eyesMy backyard