Welcome to Addis!
Eden and Aliyas met me at the Addis Airport with their favorite taxi driver, Getinet. There was a little snafu when the airport parking lot security guard tried removing Getinet’s license plates with a wrench (the airport has its own taxi drivers and they are very territorial about having somebody else’s taxi on their turf.) While Eden and Gestimet argued with the security guard, I got to meet Aliyas, whose couch I am fortunate to be crashing on. He is an Ethiopian American who has been working in Addis for the past two years. He is currently working for the Agricultural Transformation Agency. Specifically, he is creating a phone database where people can call in and get information on how/what/when to plant different crops. Think of it as 411 but for cooperative extension, and in four different regional languages. This is terrific because internet is hard to come by, but many Ethiopians do have mobile phones via satellite. While Aliyas only speaks English himself and has no academic background in agriculture, he is running this terrific project. All it takes is creativity, hard work, and patience. This is very reassuring for me.
The other thing I really like in Eden and Aliyas’ apartment is the special “Flex” stove. Two of the burners are propane gas and two are electric. This is great because if the electricity goes out (which it does) you can use the gas, or if the gas runs out, you can use electricity. I appreciate diversity and redundancy in a system. Now we’re cookin’!
Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon. Today, I went out to Chinese food with a bunch of people from the Agriculture Transformation Agency, and incredible organization that is working in all kinds of way to further sustainable development in Ethiopia. After that, I went to a French café with Eden, Amil and Barry. It felt like a Café straight out of Brooklyn. I’m using the internet at a local hotel, drinking a machiato and updating the blog. Internet is spotty, and I won’t be getting a phone until the weekend. But friends, rest assured that I am doing well in Addis. While it’s a little overwhelming to feel like I’m far away from everything and everyone I know, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.
Sending love from Addis– CZ