great caesar’s ghost! what the hell is that noise?
dear god, please make it stop.
it’s your fault, god. please make it stop.
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i thought i had seen just about the longest church service i would ever encounter when i spent four and a half hours in kpando, ghana praising jesus and the national soccer team (go black stars!)…
then the prayer chanting started… at midnight sharp, last night…
…from a loudspeaker in the center of town from midnight until… well, it’s 2:30 in the afternoon, now. i’ll let you know when it stops
this town is approximately three city blocks across in any given direction, and they broadcast church service from a loudspeaker right square in the middle.
this town is approximately three city blocks across in any given direction. i don’t need a loudspeaker to hear the church service. what i need are some ear plugs, because i have another nine hour language class tomorrow and if i don’t get some sleep…
* * * *
welcome to boru, ethiopia.
we have no paved roads.
we have power outages at least once a day.
water is available for a few hours every morning.
there is no post office.
there is no internet.
there is no buna bet (coffee shop, which is very strange for ethiopia).
there is one place to buy beer. you may buy beer at the butcher shop.
the trail in is maybe three miles long, and the elevation change and terrain on that short stretch is enough to make anyone puke.
the work day starts at 6am seven days a week.
they sound something resembling a tornado warning at sunrise every time someone dies.
someone dies every day. I’m a little concerned they aren’t squeezing out enough babies to repopulate this place.
sunday is supposed to be the day of rest. it has to be. the bible says so!
* * * *
on saturday afternoon we all got to reconvene in asela, which is the nearest big town. we were receiving our final location assignments, and as a group we lobbied to spend the whole day out on the town. there are a few groups who are stuck out in the sticks, and we were ready for a little taste of civilized life.
so we had a language exam at dawn, then piled into the typical white land cruiser outfitted with roll cage, extra spare tire, sideways bench seats, and shattered windshield.
we had our site announcement ceremony at yet another building that is either in the process of being built or torn down. you never can tell around here.
i have been placed in masha (mashi, on many maps), southern nations. it’s the farthest site south, about a day’s drive from south sudan, three day’s drive from addis, and at least seven days drive from the northernmost volunteer. when i opened my envelope (yes, we did it like the oscars) i gave mekdes (my program coordinator) a big bear hug in front of the entire PC ethiopia. this was the exact city i wanted! it was time to go out on the town!
now, the town of asela looks like any other urban slum in this country, outside of a one mile stretch of well paved road with souks, hotels, bars, buna bets, and pool halls, but a week in the ‘burbs had us itching to make inappropriate jokes, drink a few beers, eat city food, dodge taxis, and haggle for snickers bars, and that is just what we did.
it was a fantastic day. i had my first shower in a week (cold, of course), aced my exam, got the site i was hoping for, had a delicious lunch, a cold beer, a hot macchiato, and we added a new member to the group (a cornell grad student, doing field research in the area. never underestimate the power of yelling “ferenji!” at every white person you see…). on the ride home, we got to watch the sunset over the lush steppes, and grass roofed huts.
there was only one thing to say…
DT, can you believe we live here?
i know, dave-o. we don’t just stay here. we live here.
when we got back to town, i walked deanna home in exchange for free candy (i ain’t paying no 16 birrh for a snickers). then i unfolded my map of ethiopia (thanks, sadick), unwrapped my snickers, and plotted how far it was to just about everything from my future home while i chatted into the night with my future site mate.
i went to bed with a smile on my face.
it sure ain’t green acres, but this farm living was the life for me. i think i’ll sleep in ‘til 6:30…
…great caesar’s ghost. what the hell is that noise?!
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stay tuned for our next episode:
in other words. tales of language lessons and lessons learned.
easy listening: florence + the machine : between two lungs