Finding a Routine

As the three-month mark at site creeps up, I find I’ve fallen into a bit of a routine here in Woreta. I wake up every day knowing I could do anything I want, or nothing at all. However, since I am still working on my CENA I have a bit of research to do. The school I’m assigned to has two shifts, one group of kids go to school in the morning (8:30-12) and another group go in the afternoon (2-5:30). Since a full day at school would be exhausting, I usually spend half my day at the school. I try to observe English classes when I’m there, but some of the English teachers have a habit of mysteriously disappearing whenever I walk into compound. When I do get into the classroom, I find the students are more interested at staring at me then listening to their teacher. When observations fail, I sit in the small outdoor café and drink tea with various teachers and talk to them in English as they give me lessons in Amharic (they’re all convinced I’ll be fluent in 3 months, I seriously doubt that). I talk to the kids that inevitably form a circle around me whenever I’m there, trying to learn some of their names.

Since I’m only at the school for about half a day, you might wonder what else I do to occupy my time. I go to the town education office for information and data for my report, where I usually spend more time waiting for the person I need to talk to that I actually do talking to them. I spend quite a bit of time at various cafes in town reading and drinking tea or coffee. Lunch break here is 2 hours long (12-2) and there’s no point in even attempting to get work done then. When I tell Ethiopians that in America our lunch break is usually only 30 minutes, sometimes less, they are mind-blown. I usually eat lunch in town, and Wednesdays and Fridays are my favorite because they are fasting days (in the Ethiopian Orthodox religion they eat vegan on fasting days). Fasting days are the only day that you can get a bayanet, which is a vegetable variety platter with various wats (stews, kind of) of potatoes, lentils, cabbage, peppers, and other delicious goodness. My site mate and I have found what might be the best bayanet place in town (granted, we only tried two restaurants), and have become regular customers.

Then there’s the funny things in town that make me smile. There’s the white horse who stands in one spot in town unless he’s with his friend, the brown horse, that he runs around town with. There’s the lady that walks up and down the main road in a mu-mu every day at the same time. There’s the cow donkey, as I’ve named it, a white-ish donkey with black spots like a cow. There was the 6,000 birr bed that looked like something belonging in a palace that was sitting outside a carpenter’s shop on the main road that drew a crowd for a week (to put things into perspective, my bed cost 2,000 birr). There’s the crazy guy that always seems to find me when I’m in town who yells “America!” at me (although he’s actually more of an annoyance than a point of humor). There’s the bajaj driver who always pulls over his bajaj to say hi to me and find out where I’m going.

My life is undoubtedly slower-paced than it was in America. I can spend an entire afternoon reading or watching 5 episodes of Dexter and not feel bad about it. Some days, I don’t feel like leaving my house, so I don’t. But I’m quite happy with my little semi-routine that I’ve created.

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3 Responses to Finding a Routine

  1. Matt Munnell says:

    I loved reading your post. I read them to my wife who is from Woreta and who’s family still lives there. I visited 2 years ago and experienced many of the things you wrote about. I was the tallest, biggest, whitest human in town and attracted a lot of attention! I heard many, “you…you!”

    • I can’t believe your wife is from Woreta! What a coincidence! I’m glad you enjoy my posts, and if you ever come back to visit in the next two years, I would love to meet you and your wife.

      • Matt Munnell says:

        We were hoping to visit but now we are expecting a new baby so we won’t. We told her family in Woreta about you and they think they have seen you. Tesfa is her dad’s name and her brother in law runs a gas station – not the BP but the other one. I hope you’re enjoying your time there. I know I did!

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