I was finally able to access the wordpress site to do a new post. Hooray! Of course, now that I’ve been in Ethiopia for a month I have no idea where to begin. The first 9 days or so of the trip were spent traveling around to different cities in Ethiopia, visiting historical sites and seeing some truly incredible, breathtaking places. I’ve uploaded some pictures on Facebook, but the connection I have now is pretty slow and, as I’m sure you all know, patience isn’t my strong suit so I figure I’ll wait until I get back to post the rest. Anyhow, we got to Aksum in mid-June and settled into our apartments. I had a rough few days of having no running water other than a tap outside the door, being insanely ill, and getting swarmed by crazy bugs. We started classes (history, anthropology, and Amharic), which helped – the routine has made it feel a bit more like home. Amharic is crazy hard, though! Not only are we learning a new language, but a new alphabet in symbols, as well. The first week made me want to make a run for it, but I’m actually starting to get it and I’m enjoying it. Needless to say, I’ve had no time to study my French for Peace Corps. Every free moment in August will be devoted to it! Which, for those of you who haven’t heard, my invitation is to Cameroon, departing in mid-September!
Overall the first month was good. There were, and still are, some very challenging moments. The group dynamic is difficult and this program is packed full so we have little free time. I try to steal away a few moments for myself every day to maintain at least a minimal level of sanity. Most days, those moments are merely listening to Other Lives and Death Cab on the bus rides to and from meals and class or drinking a beer at dinner, but it’s better than nothing. We’ve all made friends with the local kids who are there to greet us every morning and evening – they are eager to spend time with us at the cafés to drink sodas and play ping pong. They are our local tour guides and price negotiators. I love having them around.
I’ve actually had a surprisingly hard time adjusting to life here, though. I’d say it’s a safe bet that it wouldn’t be so hard if I knew I was coming back to the US to stay. However, knowing that my departure date for Cameroon is fast approaching and using this time as a bit of a testing time for myself makes it all the more difficult. I’m learning that I’m not as tough as I thought I was, which is fine. Refined by fire, right? I have to step it up at some point. I had also forgotten how much I take for granted the ease of life in the US. I’m not sure that I’m ready to give it up for 27 months, but now is as good of a time as any, I suppose. I know that Cameroon will be a totally different experience than Ethiopia… I will be by myself, for the most part… there will be no big group, no university administrators scheduling my days. There will be more isolation, though, which probably scares me most of all. I will make friends, but I won’t have as much contact with home as I do now. It’s been a tough decision, and I’m still not sure I’ve totally settled on going. You know when you want something so bad and then you get it and you start to question if it’s really what you wanted? Le sigh. I’ve got a few more weeks to be sure. I change my mind at least 4 times a day. Ha! Either way, I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity that has been given to me!
Right now, though, I am sitting in my bungalow and a cow outside my door keeps mooing really loud and scaring the crap out of me. This is the most peaceful I have felt since arriving and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We’ve got another 4 weeks until returning to Denver and I think we were all a little burned out. We hiked for about 4 hours today, up to a church at the top of a mountain. It was a really wonderful day. Despite the challenges, I am so thankful for my time here. I am really looking forward to this week, too, because we have a whole day off for the 4th of July and a few of us are starting a regular volunteer rotation at the hospital in Aksum. I’ll hopefully be working in the HIV/AIDS clinic which would be an invaluable experience! I suppose I’ll stop the ramblings, now, and get ready for dinner. I love and miss you all!