I’m leaving in a few months. I’m trying to come to terms with this, not worry too much about my future, and live in the present even though the future is exciting. The school project is coming along really well, reducing my stress incredibly. My thoughts have shifted to trying to not take this time for granted. Here is a list of things I will certainly miss about my adopted country:
1. How an Ethiopian can find a deep connection with someone over lunch or a bus ride. Ethiopians don’t put up social walls.
2. The things I hear every day on the street: “hello you man. What is you do?” or “YES! ZIS is ZEE FOOT BALL”
3. The ‘whistler’ a schizophrenic man who used to call me a “stoopid shit stupid blackboard” but now blows me kisses because I bought him breakfast.
4. A dinner of Injera with fresh garlic and hot pepper infused Tegabino – for 75 US cents
5. How anything you could ever need is here. Everything beyond what is locally available is a luxury. Life is simple.
6. The way people tell you exactly what they think about you. For example, people keep telling me I’ve gotten fatter – to my face.
7. Related: People constantly talking about how smart I am. I’m told I’m “gobez” about 45 times a day, and I’m getting kind of used to it.
8. Being able to make a kid bust into an uncontrollable smile.
9. Being able to make a grandmother laugh on the bus.
10. Coffee. Even though I can’t drink it often because of my disease, it’s so rich delicious.
11. Evenings in general. The sunlight is spectacular.
12. Playing catch with Jon down by the Hippo grounds. The baseball gloves were the best things I brought from America.
13. Bumping into Hippos, Antelope, Civet Cats, and monkeys on my way to work.
14. How loosely defined “work” is. Sometimes, work means playing basketball and cooking dinner for my host mom.
15. The opportunity of living in a place where $12,000 can buy a new school.
16. Seasonal food. You appreciate a tomato more when you haven’t had one in four months.
17. Two (three?) hour lunch breaks
18. My friends. They are such genuine people that I feel like I have a dirty mind when I talk to them – Folks like Gezehegn, Yidne, Milkiyas.
19. My Host Family. They treat me like a son.
20. Peace Corps Volunteers. They are generally awesome people.
21. The way people say my name: Mickey! or Mai-KIL!
22. Our rudimentary basketball court and the way the guys have become so much better at basketball in the time I’ve been here.
23. Setting my own schedule and being my own boss.
24. The way respect is given – the more uncomfortable an action, the more implied respect: a low bow is respectful. A lower bow is more respectful. Waving with two hands is better than one.
25. How hungry some of the kids are for knowledge.
26. The stars. I can’t describe how much of a planetarium I live in.
27. Dinners with my host family and Mesfin. Especially when a visitor brings some music. These nights are magical. Live music takes something great and makes it even better.
28. Being able to joke in another language.
29. Feeling like I’m making a difference, even if it is small.
30. Hanging out with the work crew at the school and learning how to lay brick.
31. My kindergarteners at the Hope Academy. They have so much love.
32. Walking to a restaurant late at night with Jon and making great jokes and terrible puns.
33. Feeling robbed when a meal costs more than 2 dollars.
34. The way the whole country stopped to cheer, and cheer more passionately than anything I’ve seen, when Tirunesh won the Gold Medal in the 10,000 meters. It was at 2am.
35. Ambo Water – the sparkling mineral water that costs 40 cents here but 5 dollars in the states. I don’t know how I’ll live without it.
36. The relationships I have with waiters and kids on the street. Our inside jokes and the mutual ability we share to brighten each other’s day.