Sunday, April 30, 2006

are you out there?

I met an Ethoipian guy who lives in Calgary who supposedly met a woman in Langano who is from my hometown (if he/I aren't mistaken). So if you're from PG, BC (and you know what that means), lemme know.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

bimbi manifesto

We will not stop our continuing bombardment. What do we want? Blood! Our tactics can include (but are not limited to) the inducing of auditory and visual hallucinations and sleep deprivation.

That constant hum you here is not really us. We prefer dive bombing and coming as close as possible to your ears. Swatting, flailing and rolling around are no use. We will be successful in our objective – sucking your blood.

It is useless to perform ‘checks’ before bedtime. We will emerge from hidden corners. We are one and we are many. In the precise moment you fall asleep, we abound and are persistent in our mission.

Be sure we will make our presence known whether it is that buzzing in your ear or that soft touch of our wings as we make our way past your nose. It promises to be a fitful night of sleep for you. Your state of being will swing from conscious to semi conscious but we will not allow you the pleasure of sleep. Get angry, be annoyed…it is of no use. You will not win.

And while we prefer larger expanses of skin (legs, backs, arms), we have no problem planting ourselves in between toes, on your chin, the side of your finger. We want to be remembered and thus you are left with red itchy bumps – a memento of our manifesto.

We are one and we are many. We are bimbi. Submit!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Debra Zeit

Oh that Debra. She’s not another woman but she might as well be. She’s stolen the boyfriend from me. He’s with her while I’m at home. Maybe I can plead with her like Dolly pleaded with Jolene.

He talks about you in his sleep and there’s nothing I can do to keep from crying when he calls your name “Debra”.
And I can easily understand how you could easily take my man but you don’t know what he means to me, Debra.

Or not.

It’s a glorious extra long weekend thanks to the Orthodox Christian’s devoutness to Fassika aka Easter. But with no boyfriend to enjoy it with and a serious lacking of friends, I find myself cruising the internet bitterly reading music reviews while longing for my typical weekend morning routine of a mug of tea and some downloading. Instead I’m replacing the need with burned cds my little brother sent me.

This weekend will prove to be an all weekend his-family extravaganza. Fasting is over and here comes the sheep. I’m sure there will be the running joke with his dad about me eating raw meat, which will never happen. His mom will be asking “mino?” when I don’t pile up my plate three times. Bi eubakesh, eubakesh.”

Ethiopian hospitality is beyond amazing and requires me to think up new and different ways of politely saying no. I’ve never eaten this much in my life and I’m doing it in Ethiopia of all places. Ethiopian hospitality is the equivalent of having an Italian grandmother who wonders if you’re on a diet because you only took two giant helpings. If only it was all yummy pasta.

There’s a slight breeze. Time to move this one lady party outside.

our trip to Nazaret

Akaki River, the most polluted river in Africa they tell me

Ladies selling kolo on the side of the road

Nazaret has a lot of conventions and some of these red trees

On the other side of Nazaret

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

frustrations as of late:

  1. No steady assistants in my class. The crazy one had some mysterious surgery that turned out to be an appendectomy. She’s been gone for about three weeks but came hobbling in yesterday looking for sympathy in a most pathetic way and toting her removed appendix in a baggy. Not kidding.

  1. No water at home. There’s been some revamping of the water system in our area making the water sporadic. Then just recently we’ve had no water at all from about 7 am to 7 pm. The neighbours have water though. We have to wait until 11 pm before the water reaches a somewhat decent flow level to be able to have a shower.

  1. Baby, it’s hot outside. I swear the temperature has gone up about 10 degrees. The sun burns down on your head making everything dry. My lungs feel dry. My eyes feel dry. My eyebrows are, in fact, dry.

  1. General paranoia about germs and more fungus. By the way, if you ever have a fungus, you have to keep applying the cream. It doesn’t just go away like *that*, silly people.

  1. And the ever present – what am I doing with my life? Some days you just want to bang your head against the keyboard hoping that will transport you to another time and place where happiness is easy. Forget happy, how about content. How about decided.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

post for post

Because I promised the cousin a view from my kitchen window. Which merely looks out toward the loud sisters' place. Hence the faux stained glass attempt at some privacy.

So I included a view from the front of our house. The place across the street is a haphazard monstrosity.

Wind chime a la boyfriend.

my meager kitchen

Welcome to the first installment of My Meager Kitchen. Admittedly I am in Ethiopia and terror abounds but I hope you’ll find these recipes to be terror-free. Instead, I’ll show you what you can do with a double hot plate, large-ish toaster oven, limited ingredients, limited utensils and budget au birr.

Today’s dish: Ferengi Dabbo Ferfer

Description: Essentially it’s like an odd variation of stuffing. But not cooked inside a bird. And it has tomatoes in it.

Listening suggestion: Dolly Parton

Serves two or one hungry person

one onion
zucchini (optional)
vegetable oil
three tomatoes
vegetable stock

First peel a purple onion (if there’s a slight dusting of mould, don’t worry – the inside should be fine) and chop only half of it. Also chop up a bit of zucchini while you’re at it. Next, add some cheap worrisome vegetable oil to a large pot, enough to cover the bottom. Turn your hotplate to Max. While that heats up, take out three medium sized tomatoes and cut them into pieces the size of asser sentim. Add your onions to the pot, stirring until they become vaguely translucent and not quite so purple. Then add the zucchini.

Next dump in some of that berbere your mother-in-law gave you (careful, it’s hot) and some cumin. Stir until the spices are nicely bubbling with the onion and zucchini.

It’s time for the tomatoes. Add them and watch ‘em sizzle. Stir quickly for about 10 seconds, then add some water. Not too much! Just a bit so the tomatoes can get soft. Essentially you want them to mush up and come apart from the skin. Keep the setting on Max and add more water if it’s disappearing. At some point, throw in a bit of veggie stock to make it tastier. If you don’t have any, just use some salt. Stir occasionally.

In the meantime, break apart some bread into a bowl (or two, depending on how many you’re serving). The choice of dabbo is key because if it’s too much like a baguette, it’ll go disgustingly mushy on you. I’ve found ambasha is best (like these cute ones from Fantu). If you don’t readily have ambasha on hand, try a nice heavy bread like sourdough.

In the end, you want the tomato mixture it to be slightly thick but not too lumpy because the tomatoes should have already broken apart. Some of the oil should be seen on the top. Add the bread to the mix and stir until everything’s covered nicely.

Eneu bela.

Monday, April 10, 2006

what do you do for a living?


One of the first things that struck me when I arrived here was the massive amounts of people. People walking, people standing, people sitting, people talking, people staring. And people working. There seems to be a job – no matter the task – for almost everyone.

Take the job of being a guard for instance. A lot of decent sized stores, hotels, banks restaurants, etc. have at least one guard on duty. A general job description seems to be: watch parked cars, keep out the riffraff, assist driver with parking maneuvering, do pat downs (aka searches). It’s hardly required in some instances (take Abrico on Bole for instance) but it’s mostly a courtesy to the customer. And it creates a job where otherwise there wouldn’t be one. The general age of guards tends to be on the older side and being fairly self sufficient is better than naught. The average wage for a guard is probably about 100 Birr per month which works out to a measly $14 Canadian. Even with prices on the rise, it’s probably never covered the rent but it’s something.

At the school where I work, there are assistants and assistant’s assistants. My biggest frustration comes when it’s time to photocopy. Only the photocopy lady can touch the big green button. Even though I know what I want and, in fact, I’ve operated one of those machines several times in the past, I have to stay outside the invisible perimeter that separates this woman from machine.

The jobs become too defined (i.e., the photocopy lady only photocopies) and there’s no room for someone to move ‘up’ or even ‘over’ for that matter. Jobs are also very gender specific. You would never see a man cleaning a classroom. There are female guards but they’re only employed at places where a pat down is required and only they can touch the lady customers.

Ethiopia is a country lacking options. For the average person, they don’t have the luxury to even entertain the thought of “hm, perhaps I’ll change careers”. Day in, day out they do the same mindless job. They’re stuck and I’m not even sure that if someone came along and offered them a challenging job with responsibility they would take it. It’s like they’ve been labeled by some hidden hand as “guard” and that’s all they know how to do, it’s all they can do. Being poor means you can’t afford to take risks. Until the time the government believes in the people enough to create a roomy economy, people will continue to walk. And stand. And sit. And talk. And stare. And work.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

beeeeeeeep - clear!

My roommates at one time called me 'stone face'. It was something that surprised me because I thought I was fairly transparent as far as those things called 'feelings' were concerned. I can't say I liked the name but it did make me wonder what exactly it was I projecting to the world.

I've generally thought of myself as a fairly level person. If you saw a graph of my feelings, it would look less like stock market trends and more like a dead person's cardiogram. Hm, no wonder they called me 'stone face'.

I'm not comfortable with being angry but this week I was less afraid of it. I'm not sure what it is. The more time you spend telling people what to do/not to do, the more you feel entitled to get angry. (I have to marinate on that some more.)

The boyfriend laughed when I told him I entered the classroom and they spontaneously started singing some sort of "welcome, welcome we're happy to see you" song, which I got angry about, which he found even more funny.

The kids talk and talk and talk and talk. Even if you look straight at them and tell them to stop talking, the second you turn away from them, they're back talking again. I'm still searching for a shock and awe method and have found that wearing a ring on my hand is helpful when I smack the desk (once) to get their attention. Until my hand spontaneously turned purple.

I felt myself wanting to yell "shut up!" but it came out sounding like "shbe quiet!"

It wasn't a great week and it timed itself nicely with PMS. On Friday, I asked each kid what they were doing on the weekend and getting to hear their quirky stories ("I'm going to America to eat a burger," "I'm driving to the barber, then to a cafe by myself") made me like them more.

I wanted to see what ol' stone face looked like angry so I took a peek in the mirror. It wasn't pretty. Scrunched face, wide eyes. I can't understand why the kids would be happy to see me let alone want to sing a song about it.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


The new chocolate-eating friend I made has left Addis suddenly. Her mobile is shut off. Rumour has it, it's a medical emergency and she's told the school she'll be gone for two weeks or more. Hope she's okay.