Today we started the day with breakfast at 8 (which seems to be one of the few things that happens fairly consistently on time). Since we weren’t planning on leaving for Bright Hope until 10, we decided to make some more barle(bar-ee-la)(think stretchers) to use at the school. Joe and I walked down the street to the local “lumber yard” and bought some eucalyptus wood(from a tree that was apparently imported from Australia). 160 bier (about $9.50) bought enough wood for 3 solid barles. When we showed up at Bright Hope the workers praised our work by saying, “Ariefno! Gobez!” “Nice! Smart work!” Then it was digging up rocks from the ‘playground’ and hailing them to the trench with the barles until bunna (coffee) break just before lunch.
After a lunch of beans and rice, it was back to hauling rocks. Soon ofter the zinabe(zi-nob) (rain) started to fall. From there on it was a mix of working when the zinabe let up, playing in the rain, and sitting under the eve of the classrooms when the zinabe let up. The games ranged from throwing rocks at various things on the playground to puddle stomping. At one point when the rain was light enough to work in, I accidentally broke a pick ax to which Michali replied, “Gobez, abbess” (Smart work, lion!) They handed me a different pick and it was back to work.
Besides the rain, which was a welcome break from the heat of the last few days, it was also different because the students were taking a bunch of end of the year tests. There weren’t a lot of students around when we arrived at 10:30 and practically all the students were gone after we finished lunch. It was so strange to be the only people at the school. Usually we are swarmed with kids until the teachers or other Habeshe (ha-ba-sha)(Ethiopians) literally drive them away. It’s a hard balance to keep because you want to meet the kids and not ignore them, but sooner or later, someone is going to shoo them away. In a way, it was nice to get a little rest from the constant “What is your name?” “How old are you?” “Wife? Kids? Girlfriend?” “YOU! YOU! YOU!” “Camera?!”(please take my picture!), hand holding, and thumb wrestling. Even though it is really cool to meet the kids, it can become overwhelming in large groups. It didn’t take long to figure out that the garden was off-limits to the kids and that it was a sort of safe haven if need be.
Sitting down with a few kids or talking to the Habeshe workers can be very rewarding. They are always curious about who you are, what you like, what you do, etc. And practicing saying things in Amharic is almost guaranteed to bring some good laughter. In devotions one night we talked about leaving behind pride and embracing humility. Being willing to humble yourself and try and learn things from the people opens so many doors. You can’t come a a cross-cultural project thinking that you know everything and have all the resources. You have to come at it thinking that one culture isn’t better than the other, just different. The Habeshe are very good at getting things done with limited resources, my favorite example being an ax one guy was using. It was made from the end of a truck leaf spring with a forged edge. And all the pick, rake, and shovel handles were made from eucalyptus wood.
Back at the Amazing Grace Guest Home, the staff had prepared a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony in honor of Trecie, a sort of goodbye party as she was leaving to go back to the States that night.Before we left for dinner, Kate T. found a 6 week old puppy that looked like a golden retriever. There are stray dogs everywhere around Addis so the locals usually want nothing to do with them. They all have fleas and some have rabies, so it is best to avoid them. The puppy, which Kate promptly named Wusha (‘dog’ in Amharic), was covered with fleas so Kate and Trecie gave him a bath before they had to let him go again.
Dinner was pizza at Chocolate with the whole bunch, the team, Joe, Aki, Yasen, Tare, Lajara, and Yoeseph. By the time we got our pizzas, it was almost time to head to the airport so we downed the pizza in a record 7 minutes and were off. It was sad for the team to say goodbye to Trecie at the airport, but we have thoroughly enjoyed the time with her. She always had a smile on her face and was usually one of the first to laugh.
On the way back from the airport someone decided that they needed donuts, so of course we went looking for some. We stopped a at a cafe and all 10 Americans piled in just to find they don’t serve donuts at 8 PM on a Thursday. This process was repeated several times until we gave up after “Real Coffee and Donuts” failed us too. Oh, well. As usual you just have to roll with things as they come because they rarely go according to plan.