Food and Friends on Palm Sunday

It seems like I have a ton of pictures of food from this trip… Maybe because I’m enjoying it so much!

I usually don’t drink coffee, but when in Rome… Well, I certainly am having a couple of cups of buna each day. Most places, coffee is excellent. We even had a couple of meetings at Kaldi’s, which is Ethiopia’s answer to Starbucks. There, the service was probably the worst, though.

At our new guest house, which I totally recommend, by the way, we have some great choices for breakfast. And great service. I’ve been enjoying a pain au chocolat each morning, along with a yogurt from the supermarket on the corner. Then we’ve been eating mostly at restaurants two times a day, despite the kitchen at our disposal in the guest house. (This is DS Guest House, just off Haile Gebraselassie Avenue near the Axum Hotel.)

We were so excited about this trip, because we would be here before Easter and get to eat lots of fasting food (read: vegetables.) But it seems like there isn’t a practicing Orthodox in sight at most restaurants, because we’ve still had a hard time getting our veggies. The exception was today… We visited our friend M’s family down in Doukem. I’m sure M put in a good word for me, because I saw all our favourite foods, lovingly prepared by her sister. I shed a happy tear at the sight of gomen, spinach, I tell you! We had a wonderful time visiting them… It’s like visiting family. Which they are, of sorts. 🙂 After a stressful day working on Vulnerable Children stuff, it was so nice just to take an hour and relax with people we know.

I also have been introduced to a new delicious Ethiopia food.. It’s this bread with butter and spices on it. I haven’t had a chance to find out exactly how to make it yet, but it was pretty delicious. It’s also a breakfast food, which is different.

The other cool thing today was that it was Palm Sunday. It was really neat comparing the way the Orthodox celebrate the holiday compared to the Catholic approach I was brought up in. Enjoy the pictures!

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Success for VCS in Adama/Wonji

We had a really successful day in Adama today. READ MORE…

Aside from Vulnerable Children stuff, I’ve also been busy arranging family visits, organizing drivers and meetings, and sending off a research proposal to Canada. Seriously, there are long days here! You know when you are typing on an ipad along a bumpy red dusty highway that you have work to do! Lol

We had some great down time today though too. We ate twice in Debre Zeit, back and forth from Adama, and we also stopped in at Babogaya resort. Why? The art gallery of course! Nicole and Tawnya got lovely paintings… And we even got Nicole’s all rolled up to go on the plane with her tonight.

To send Nicole off in proper style, the three of us younger ladies went to Elsa bar for tibs and tej tonight. Pretty basic surroundings, but Nicole really enjoyed it and it was nice to sip even slightly horrible tej at the end of a very long day. I was so glad I got to know her this trip… Maxing that we’ve been working together for a couple of years on Vulnerable Children, but this is the first time we met. What is it that you say in PEI? A kindred spirit!

Tomorrow is more meetings… For Vulnerable Children and for my research project. I will be thankful when I get some time just to wander around and shop! Maybe the day we leave? Lol

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Guder, and meetings interrupted by monkeys!

Well our first two days in Ethiopia have been jam packed. Today we went out to Guder, where the largest number of our House 2 House kids are. I’ll write more about our meetings tomorrow, but in summary, they were very successful.

It’s a 2-3 hour drive out to Guder, depending on the traffic. I really enjoy the trip, since the countryside is so fascinating, and different from the urban life of Addis. We also had refreshing rain, which slowed down the traffic, but also brought the temperature down and made for some pretty interested drippy pictures.

Speaking of Addis though, we tried a new guest house this trip. Although friendly and clean and priced right, it is way too out-of-the-way. We also have Maryam, our eldest trip member, running up and down stairs every day, so all of us need a bit of a change. So we are moving form the Norr to another small guest house on Haile Salasse Gabriel Street on Saturday.

After we checked out the new guest house tonight, we stayed in the neighbourhood for some pizza… And a nice bottle of Sangiovese IGP wine. Yummy! Funny enough (I have not been picking the restaurants) we have only had Ethiopia once so far. Last night, Bisrat and Birhan (Canadian Humanitarian and Vulnerable Children’s respective guys) picked Mexican. Lol. So we are off to an international start.

Tomorrow we head down to Adama. It should be interesting, because we have appointments to speak with the Wonchi government there, and also plan on paying our respects at Faya Orphanage, which we are no longer a partner with, but still want to show our appreciation for.

Otherwise, I have been fruitlessly shopping for a battery charger for my camera. (2 weeks and one battery? Yikes!) I also bought a mini 3G SIM card for my ipad and a SIM Card for my borrowed phone (thanks Mark!) at the Hilton so that I can do all this business and arranging while I’m here. Id never stay there, but they do have agreat little technology shop and fast money exchange there. Sad to say, but I’m a bit useless without these tools. When I got my technology back today, I felt so empowered! 🙂

This weekend I have meetings for a research project I am working on, an appointment to see my friend M’s family, and then many more visits and meetings next week. This working vacation stuff is hard work! It must be fun, though, because Nicole was really upset tonight that she has to leave tomorrow.

Enough a few of the gems I’ve caught on my camera and the ipad.

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Hello from Addis

It was our first day in Ethiopia, and we hit the ground running at eight am.

I was so relieved to get to the Addis Ababa airport. The flight from ?ancouver to Toronto was fine, but the Toronto Addis leg of the trip, at thirteen hours, seemed interminable! When we exited the glass doors of the building and started steering our teetering luggage down the curvy sidewalk, I inhaled the thick smog and felt immediately refreshed. I was back! The whirl of the parking lot, the bustle in the streets, the horn fuelled confrontations between drivers. It was all so exotic and familiar.

Maryam, mom and I arrived at our little guest house in the middle of nowhere. Nicole and Tawnya were there in the lobby to greet us. Awesome to meet Nicole in person for the first time. She’s been a part of Vulnerable Children’s board for a couple of years, but this was e first time we got to say hello in person.

It turns out the the super inexpensive, very friendly guest house I had booked for us all was a bit of a dud. You can’t beat $15 a night for a clean spacious room, but even taxis find this place, well, hard to find. It’s fine for the next couple of days while we are gone on day trips, but after that, well have to switch to somewhere more central, with Internet service! Lol the Internet cafe “just down the block” is way to far of a hike to be convenient, and there aren’t any restaurants around. The dog that apparently barks all night has not yet raised his voice, so hopefully we won’t have to worry about that!

After a quick shower, we were off again. To meetings, to the mercado to find a camera battery charger (which I never did fine! Durn it!! So I have only one battery life for 2 weeks…) to the bank to change money, and finally to a long supper meeting with our Vulnerable Children rep and Canadian Humanitarian’s rep too.

I’m feeling very positive, ready for sleep, and content. I know I have to get a SIM card and make a million phone calls tomorrow, but we are off to Ambo and Guder to speak with government officials about our programs and to start moving them officially forward. Exciting stuff!

Good night from Addis…

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Mom, Maryam and I in the airport.
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Excellent Ethiopian Airlines service! I have to say the socks were an awesome touch.
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Bisrat form Canadian Humanitarian chats with Tawnya, Mom and Nicole from Vulnerable Children! Planning for the next day to Ambo.
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