Shifting the Burden of Shame: Justice for Survivors of Sexual Violence in the DRC (via ICMHD)

Shifting the Burden of Shame: Justice for Survivors of Sexual Violence in the DRC "If they hadn't arrested me I wouldn't have known it was a crime” ~Chance, a soldier in the DRC currently serving a 25 year sentence for rape “I was hospitalized at the health centre. I was receiving an IV infusion one night when the soldiers came to pillage. They pulled out the IV catheters and then they started to rape the patients, including myself. By July, I had not had my period for seven months. I gave birth to twins. As a result of this i … Read More


I’ve moved

Link to my other, far more active, blog….

I now live in a place that looks mostly like the photos shown below. It’s slightly different than Ethiopia. Slightly.

Back in the States, but I have photos!

Okay, so I don’t know if anyone is still reading this. I have about 2 weeks worth of posts that still need to be looked over, and that may or may not ever get posted…. To make up for this, I plan to finally put up some of the photos I couldn’t upload via Ethiopia’s internet. Hopefully someone looks at them and finds them interesting. This first set is from my trip to Arba Minch. I have like 1000 more where these came from…

Day 54

23 August/Day 54

Today isn’t really worth mentioning. I spent the day bored out of my mind. All prior plans with Habtamu were off (despite the fact that I woke up early so that I could do them), because he wasn’t able to meet up. I mostly think he was hung over. He sounded terrible on the phone when I finally talked to him, and his text messages didn’t make any sense.

So mostly, I just spent most of my day relaxing, and craving trash food. It’s like a disease and I just can’t stop. For instance, I currently would really love some Doritos. I also want pizza, chocolate covered gummy bears, a veggie burrito, sushi, x-chic’s…. Sigh. I think that knowing I’m going home soon is causing me to crave all this stuff. I didn’t really miss food before the last few days, besides the rare twinge now and then. I think I may spend my first couple of days in New Orleans in a state of acclimation, whereby I will be eating everything in sight. I hope that this is okay with everyone.

So, while I spent all day bored, and not really doing anything, once I woke up, I was awake. This means that I really didn’t get enough sleep. Or maybe not good enough sleep. I’ve really wanted to write all sorts of stories and random things all day, but my eyes hurt for some reason and I can’t get them to stop. It makes writing a horrible thing. Blah. This is all you’re going to get.


What I learned today:

  1. TV shows repeat themselves far too often here
  2. Gay is apparently a profane word in the Muslim world (not really that surprisingly), as it is bleeped out (mildly more surprising) on all the Arabic broadcast, English language stations that we get here.
  3. No matter how hard the staff here tries to make the BBC work in my room, it never will. Sigh.

Day 53

22 August/Day 53

            Why do the maids insist on knocking on my door even earlier on the weekends? Is it not normal for people to sleep in later when they don’t have to go to work (its not like I wake up that late, even on the weekends. Especially this weekend. I am supposed to be meeting Habtamu at 9…)? And furthermore, why do they knock again when they know that I’ve not left the room yet? Grrr. I’m glad they want to clean so badly, but it’s not as though I make a mess of things anyway. Sigh… Annoying morning thus far.

I met up with Habtamu around 9 though, and we went to an amazing café around the corner from my hotel. They have delicious delicious juices there, and I got a fresh squeezed layered mixture of mango, strawberry, and pear. Who knew they grew pears in Ethiopia? Habtamu had spoken with Mengistab (a co-worker, who’s very nice) the day before about going to Harar. He said that he and one of his friends we’re planning on going to Haremaya University anyway for lunch. Haremaya University is only about 20 km from Harar. So we made plans to go with them, and then afterwards we’d go into Harar, because they were taking Yared (the driver) to get to the university.

It took longer than originally thought to get the day started, because Yared was busy with Lusaget in the morning later than he’d planned to be. Me and Habtamu met up with the others who were already indulging in their first beers of the day. I stuck to water myself. While waiting though, I did get to look around at a few shops that sold traditional crafts.

Finally Yared came, and we were off. We took the long, winding road up into the hills, and I enjoyed the lively conversation and spectacular view. I was given the history along the way of many different lakes which have since dried up. Basically these lakes are/were the only real water source for Harar, but because of increased agriculture, and population of the area, they were over-used. Only 1 or 2 still have any water in them. The rest are just these green depressed spots in the land. I asked lots of questions about where people were getting their water from now. Apparently, this was quite a crisis for awhile, but now water is piped in from Dire Dawa.

When we got to the university, I was super impressed. I was told (whether it is actually true or not, I have no idea) that Americans built the university, and modelled it after a university in the US. I’m not sure which university that may have been, but the whole compound that it sat on was beautiful nonetheless. Also, it was constructed during Haile Sallasi’s rule. He apparently built quite a few different universities. Up in the mountains, as we were, the air was crisp, cool, and smelled deliciously clean. I loved it.

Today was the official day for the breaking of the fast for those of orthodox Christian persuasion, and so everybody was all about consuming meat, and there was celebrating everywhere. I was told it was a mini holiday, as Ethiopians do love their meat. Even as we walked down the steps to the restaurant, we were stopped by traditional Tigray dancers, dressed and singing for the occasion.

I knew before I even got to the restaurant that today I would have no choice about eating meat. I’d been enjoying the fasting period, because even those who don’t keep the fast (i.e. my friends), meat is scarce, because most people do. I’d been enjoying a wide variety of veggie foods that I didn’t want to end. Oh well, when in Rome… Acutally, that’s not true. I did not consume the same foods as everyone else. Apparently it is quite normal to eat raw meat here. I mean, I already knew that kitfo (a raw, seasoned, mince-meat) is a common dish, and I even tried the raw version once, while in Arba Minch, but I guess I didn’t fully realise the extent of the raw-ness.

Having been forewarned about the foods that would be ordered for lunch, I declared that I would not be eating it myself, but would photograph the occasion. So they also ordered some Tibbs for me. This is, as I’ve probably already explained at some point, fried goats meat (probably the most eaten meat here). I acquiesced to the carnivores, and ate it. I actually do like tibbs, and this particular restaurant prepared it well, although there was a difference in the manner it was served that I hadn’t seen before. They served it with fried fat pieces. I declared I would only eat what was termed ‘the red meat.’ I can only be so Ethiopian with my eating habits. I really couldn’t manage the pure fat. The raw dish arrived soon after we had dug into the tibbs. And when I say ‘raw dish,’ I mean exactly that. They were given a plate full of huge slabs of completely uncooked and unseasoned beef, as well as slabs of raw fat. I was told that the fat was from the hump that the cows here have distal from the neck. Yum. They ate their meal by cutting off slices and dipping it into the bowls of pepper sauce that were provided. Sometimes they also ate it with bread or injera. Yeah, I was definitely not going to try it. I was impressed with the amount that they consumed though, and took both before and after photos. They were amazed to learn that other cultures also ate raw meat (I referenced both the Japanese and French as examples), and seemed unsurprised that I also made it a rule to consume these dishes. We also talked about typical types of meat in different areas, and they seemed flabbergasted that it is uncommon to eat goat, for example, in the U.S. They also didn’t understand why anyone would want to eat tofu. It was an amusing conversation, especially as I was mostly trying to distract myself as they consumed the raw fat. I might admit that it freaked me out slightly.

After lunch we had planned to see the leopards that were apparently there, but as it was already 1 pm and people (notably my good friend Habtamu) were starting to get the chat shakes, I was forced to forgo this experience in order to take care of their addiction. I should mention, that while it appears to me that the day for chat is actually every single day in this part of Ethiopia, I have been assured many times that the day for chat is actually on Saturday. It is customary to have lunch and then indulge in chewing chat with friends for the rest of the day, and then go out at night. Why this is different from every other day of the week, I am unsure, but people get more than a little upset if they miss out on their fix.

Anyway, we all piled back into the truck and headed out towards Harar. I may have mentioned before that the town for buying the best chat (in all of Ethiopia, and therefore the world), is on the way to Harar. The town is called Aweday, and they apparently make millions of birr each day there, and therefore the taxes from this town alone end up making a huge contribution to the federal governement’s expenses. So we stopped there, and I was amused by the nogotiations that began to take place. Basically all we had to do was stop the car on the side of the main road that ran through the town, and roll down the windows. Women selling chat started running up to us from every side and shoving their wares through the windows. It was mostly hilarious. Negotiations then ensued, and finally they bought a bundle. It appeared like a mass amount to me, and apparently, not only was it the top quality, but it was sold to them for half the price it would be in Dire. I took photos as best I could during the madness, in hopes of documenting the process.

As we started off again, Habtamu started nibbling at the leaves, as we were clearly taking far too long to get to a chat house, for proper chewing sessions. I immediately started making fun of him. We reached the outskirts of Harar, and stopped at a hotel. In this country many hotels, as well as other establishments, tend to have rooms reserved solely for the consumption of chat. You basically rent them for the afternoon (or night, if that is your persuasion) in order to have the chat there. You usually get drinks (coca-cola or water) with the room, so that you can drink while chewing and not get dry mouth. In many places, you can also pay for a hookah, and smoke shisha while there. The rent of the space is also different depending on how you want to rent it. You can either pay per head, or per room. If you pay per head, it is cheaper, but it means that others (strangers, generally) can come in and share the room with you. If you pay per room it is expensive, but the space will be private. In the case of this particular hotel, the space ended up being deemed too expensive, so we ended up going to the house of one of Mengistab’s friends after about 5 minutes in the place. It was a complicated process, all of which I found amazingly amusing.

When we got to the friend’s house, at the back of a hotel, there were many people there other than just the family. I sat with all the men in the main room. The women all sat together in an adjoining room. The first thing that happened there was that I was proudly shown some English pence that they had been given. Why this was shown to me, I am unclear, especially as they all tried to tell Habtamu that I was clearly Italian (they apparently have some Italian relatives from when Italians occupied the country, and I looked like them). It was funny, but since I had some Euro cents in my bag, I gave them some to add to their collection. I also made good friends with one of the children there. She was probably about 5 or 6, and was apparently in awe of my presence. She had only met a few other farenge before, and she liked to stare at me whenever she thought I wasn’t looking. She was quite adorable and so I played random games with her, while she chatted non-stop at me in Amharic. I clearly had little to no idea what she was saying, but we talked a lot anyway. All the adults in the room thought this was hilarious. It was good for me though, because the conversation around me was mostly in Amharic, so it gave me something to do, and I had fun playing with her. Sometimes I’d be told something to say in response, and she was always delighted by this. The most memorable moments of this came when she kept insisting on telling me ‘secrets’ in my ear. I have no idea what she said but it was adorable. She was hoping I would have a slumber party at her house. I was sorry to let her down.

We left the house later than was planned, because of the chat session, and met back up with Yared. The plan from here was to see some of the city, including the 5 historical gates, and when the sun went down we would feed the hyenas. We had already had to rule out the market because of the hour. We went to pick up Mengistab’s friend, who had left a bit earlier to go to the Harari beer brewery because he works part time as a rep for them. Yared told us on the way that we had to leave the city before it got dark. This was news to us. Apparently he had some prior commitment that he had forgotten to tell us about and wouldn’t stay in the city much longer. We were all disappointed by this news. I did get to see a few of the gates, from the truck, before we left, but it wasn’t the tour I had been hoping for. I’m quite sad that I won’t get to really see the city before my departure, even if I did pass an enjoyable day in a new friend’s house.

The road back was long, and Yared’s careful driving meant that we took the sharp turns slow. I was alternately happy at his cautiousness, and ready to get out of the car. I started to feel a bit ill because I hadn’t eaten in awhile, and despite the probable cleanliness of my travelling companions, sharing a car with 4 good sized men after a hot day in the city, doesn’t make anyone smell their best. I think I was feeling a little claustrophobic towards the end of the drive back.

The drive was mostly in companionable silence, with quick bursts of conversation. It was mostly in Amharic, so I contented myself with daydreaming. I thought most about the things I would have to do in New Orleans before leaving for Switzerland, and what I’d do when I got there. The thoughts alone of the tasks I would soon face were enough to make me tired. I also spent some time reflecting on my experiences here. I realised that despite all the frustrations and difficulties, I was really liking the country. This was especially true after I gave up on my Bulletin project. I’m glad I’m finally truly just enjoying myself, but sad that it will be over so soon.

I was relieved when we finally arrived in Dire. I think Habtamu was too, as he said that he wasn’t feeling well for most of the journey back. Yared dropped us all off at a restaurant, not too far from my hotel, and left us for his other obligations. This restaurant, which I believe is also a hotel, served the food with their own little fire pits. Basically, after you order, the waiters bring around these cast iron things that have burning coals in the bottom with a sort of pot thing over it, which contains your food. They had ordered tibbs, which I wasn’t super excited about due to the fact that I felt as though I’d already consumed far too much meat for one day, but tonight was a celebration. Plus they ordered without my knowledge, so it’s not like I could argue, and it was better than raw meat.

When the food came, it smelled delicious, and tasted even better. Despite wishing for a veggie option, I was impressed by the taste. It was definitely the best tibbs I had had in Ethiopia, and I was hungry anyway. I ate a lot, and my stomach would probably exact its punishment on me later. Oh well.

After supper, I went back to mine for a bit of a rest, despite the fact that we already had plans to go out later. The food had restored me, but it was still too early to go out, and I welcomed a rest. Plus, I was carrying too many things with me, and it wouldn’t be fun to do that out. I had planned to do some writing at the hotel before Habtamu called me to head back out, but I was tired enough that I basically just laid on my bed and stared blankly at the television. I have no idea what I watched.

I was mostly hoping that Habtamu would call me and tell me that since he was tired and had not been feeling well, that he just wanted to stay in for the night. He called me, but it was just to meet him down the road at Bistro. He was already there. I almost thought about just telling him I was staying in, but I knew that it was likely my last weekend in the city, and as I had spent the weekend before laying in bed, and wishing my stomach would stop trying to turn itself out, I knew I’d kick myself later if I didn’t go.

I met Habtamu and one of his long time friends he’d grown up with in Jigjiga. His friend still lived there most of the week, as it was more profitable for him in his profession as a driver, but came back every weekend because his wife and son lived in Dire. He was a fun addition to our little group, and we went to a few different places with him. Eventually he said that his wife was calling him to go home, so he left. Me and Habtamu decided to head on to Mer Maid, because it was supposed to be a good night there.

Mer Maid was packed when we arrived. There were people spilling out the doors, but no one seemed bothered. Habtamu recognised a few of Musfen’s friends (who unfortunately couldn’t come out because of other obligations) outside the door. They were nice, but clearly extremely drunk. I didn’t know how I felt about them. We went in, and got a beer, and headed towards the dance floor. We ran into Musfen’s friends again, and we all hung out in a group there. The music was good, but I couldn’t get quite comfortable. I was the only farenge there in a dance floor mostly packed with unfamiliar men, who liked to stare at me. Habtamu and a few of the guys we were with (who’s names I never really caught, despite introductions) tried to sort of pen me in against the back wall so we could all dance without having problems, but that didn’t really help because Musfen’s friends stared at me in the way that I hated as well. I shot them a lot of glares and probably said a few things I shouldn’t have, but I can’t help it, it’s my nature. Eventually we left the place. Habtamu said we should go somewhere where it’d be more comfortable to dance.

We ended up at Desire, which was a little better. Habtamu was still drinking but I had stopped awhile before, contenting myself with water. The dance floor here was still packed, but it was a better mix of guys and girls, and there were also a number of farenge guys there. I still eventually had to be fenced in a corner in order to dance without incident, and was not happy that Musfen’s friends had ended up back next to us. I’m sure that they were nice guys, but once again, leering= super annoying. At least this time they seemed to at least get the hint a little bit, and were more friendly seeming. Well, it was either that, or they were just too drunk to leer. I’m not going to bet on which one I thought it was.

Eventually, Habtamu and me had to go outside for air if we ever wanted to breathe again. The walls had literally begun sweating inside, and I was pretty sure a long, long shower would be in order before I made it to my bed. Outside, there were some farenge guys who had been staring at me in the club. I was not really interested in meeting them, as it appeared that they were exactly the type of farenge guys I really hate. You know, the ones who use being in a foreign country to exploit all the young girls that were currently falling all over them. Gross. A couple of them eventually came over to us. It turns out that most of them were American (one was American/Costa Rican). The two that came over surprised me by ending up being cooler than I expected, so we had a quick chat, and talked about meeting up another time.

Soon after, it was time to go home. It was late and all the driving around had us both quite tired. We walked back towards our houses, commenting on the fact that it had been a good morning, a good afternoon, and a good night. It was a great way to spend what will probably be my last weekend in the city.


Things I learned today:

  1. I guess I just never really fully thought this through before- Here, hotels are some of the social hotspots of the city. You go to them for drinks, meals, to watch sport, and even sometimes for dancing.
  2. Maybe feeding the hyenas was just not meant to be. Doesn’t mean I won’t try again next time I’m here!
  3. On a Saturday night in Dire, Desire is the least leer-y of all the dance clubs.

Day 52

21 August/Day 52

Today was Friday. This means that people on work half a day. It also means I didn’t work at all. Well, not on purpose, and not really. Basically there just wasn’t much for me to do, so I got some emails out, and went through the info that Lusaget had given me for the classes on Monday. It was all in all an oh so exciting morning.

At lunch, I went to Habtamu’s with Musfen. We had a delicious lunch, and then headed quickly over to Musfen’s. It somehow sort of became  party situation over there. When we arrived, Raphael was already waiting for us, and soon after our arrival, Haptamu’s brother, Soloman, Yonas, and another friend of Musfen’s showed up. Me Habtamu and his brother had a Deposit tournament. It was an enjoyable afternoon, and as I walked back to the hotel after supper to drop off my bag, I watched the birds circle outside. I don’t know what kind of birds they are (they are black), but they circle the skies in seemingly growing numbers, every day at dusk. I think they’re originating out of this one adobe-like building that I can see situated in the hills above the city. I watch the birds often from my tiny little balcony outside my hotel room. I usually sit down so no one outside can see me. In this manner, I have my own little world, designed just for me and the birds. They remind me of the swallows that come out of some chimney in this school in Portland. People show up every evening to sit on this hill next to the school and watch during the time of the year that they do that. I like the birds here. It relaxes me to watch them, and reminds me of good memories of years passed.

I went back to Musfen’s after stopping at the hotel in order to meet up with everyone. He was eating leftovers from lunch, and insisted that I eat. The three guys I hang out with almost everyday: Musfen, Habtamu, and Suraphael, are sort of like surrogate parents in the way that they care for me. They are forever telling me to eat, and making sure that I am thoroughly fed, watered, and generally taken care of. I sort of love them for it. So Musfen made me eat, even though I was nowhere near hungry at that point. In fact, he did the traditional feeding me thing because he didn’t feel like I was eating enough.

Here, it is a sign of respect to feed people from your own hand. This means that you wrap up whatever wat or meat with the injera and actually stick the food into someone else’s mouth. It is traditional that you do this exactly 3 times. I’m not sure why. I sort of hate it when people do this. I always accept, of course, but I have a hard enough times eating with my hands (although to be fair, I’m actually quite used to it at this point), and it’s hard to think I should eat out of someone else’s. Musfen was so sincere and so motherly when he fed me though, that not only did I of course graciously accept, but it made me laugh at his concern. I’m going to miss my friends here, that’s for sure.

After eating, it was time to go out, even though it was relatively early for such things. Musfen was going to come, but then had to meet with someone. He said he’d try to catch up with us later. So, it ended up being just me and Habtamu out on the town. I like going out with him, because he’s generally a relaxing person to be around, and he always shows me somewhere new. Tonight we started at the Bridge bar. Bridge is part of a hotel that is on the way to the Sabian area. It is actually on a bridge. I hadn’t been there before, and it was a really nice place. We went from there onto a few other places. I’ve never really understood why we constantly have to move from bar to bar, even when we’re enjoying the one we’re at. I’m not super against it though. The movement allows me to see more of the city.

Surraphael met us at this really awesome rooftop place in another hotel. He doesn’t really drink, so he doesn’t like to stay out for too long. It was good to see him even for a short time though, especially since he’s been so busy lately with the political meetings he’s been in. We all sat around and chatted for awhile, until Raphael needed to go home, it became clear that Habtamu’s friends who were supposed to meet us weren’t coming, and we decided it was time to move on.

At this point, I really was ready to be done with the whole being out and drinking thing, but decided that I should enjoy my last weekend here and to stop being such a baby. Also, I was plied with whiskey. Habtamu knows me well. Evenutually we ended up at the Mer Maid nightclub. I had been wanting to go there forever because of the cool looking paintings on the outside of the walls there. It was a fun place, although because it was a Friday and still relatively early, there weren’t too many people there. There was this really comedy girl dancing there. She was wearing this lycra two piece body suit thing and dancing around, handing off various guys. She had this amazing floor move (which she probably learned watching American films that have stripper scenes), where she sort of spread her legs, and did some sort of weird dip onto the floor that was vaguely reminiscent of ‘the worm.’ All in all, she only managed it very awkwardly, and with jerky movements. I’m not sure if this was because she was drunk, or just not good at it, but me and Habtamu broke out in fits of giggles every time she did it. Hebtamu kept saying, ‘she’s not going home alone tonight.’ I thought this was hilarious, and told him that not only would she likely not being going home alone, but she might be going home with multiple guys. After awhile, I got annoyed with the attention that I was receiving there. Me and Habtamu had danced around a bit, but the way I get looked at makes me really uncomfortable, so I stopped. This was probably due to the fact that I was the only farenge there, and the club was not full, but still…

After the Mer Maid, I got dragged to one last place, but it was next to the hotel and we didn’t stay long. I didn’t want to drink anymore, and I was getting tired. Plus, we had decided that we would go to Harar tomorrow, so I wanted to be awake and alert for that. I should mention that we started drinking at like 7. I was back at like 11:30. What’s happened to me that I think 11:30 is late? I must really be getting old…

When I got back to my hotel, I was surprised to find people sleeping in cots in the corridors next to my room. I’d returned back later than this before, but had never seen people sleeping in the hallways, so I was a bit surprised by this. It was clearly the maids that were sleeping there. I wondered if they did this because a.) they have to start working so early in the morning, b.) they don’t have their own home and in fact live here, or c.) they are the night staff. I’m betting on a or b.

Today was a good day, I can’t wait for tomorrow. I feel like I really don’t have enough time left. I haven’t seen enough of this city, and I still haven’t really seen Harar. I also haven’t taken nearly enough photos here. I took some photos tonight, and I’m hoping to continue to remedy this situation starting tomorrow.


Things I learned today:

1. I don’t have enough time left to possibly see everything.

2. I’m really going to miss everyone here. I’ve realised that I finally feel quite comfortable in Dire (especially after letting go of my failing project), and it’ll be sad to leave.

3. This may be too much information, but I really avoid pooping in latrines at all costs. Even though I am quite comfortable with the use of latrines, going number 2 is just sort of awkward, and weird. Plus I always forget to bring toilet paper with me, and as it is quite the commodity here, I don’t’ like to ask for a lot of it. I often have to think up excuses to return to my hotel room, because it has the nicest toilets I’ve seen in this city.

4. People here are sort of obsessed with the idea of latino things. I’ve promised a samba lesson and a brazilian food night before I go. How am I going to pull that together?

5. I looked like an alien in the photos I took tonight.

6. I was told today that I looked much younger in my photos from my recent trip to Europe. That made me feel bad, although I think it’s likely due to the fact that I didn’t look like a concentration camp victim when I was in Europe. Sigh…

Day 51

20 August/Day 51

            Fifty one days in Ethiopia. That just sounds crazy to me. I feel alternatively like I’ve been here forever and forever, and like I just arrived. Although I guess when you look at it and say well, I’ve only been here for like 2 months, it doesn’t sound nearly as impressive. I guess it’s really the perspective that you look at it with.

So, in an attempt to resurrect my former blogging glory, I am once again sitting at my computer, getting ready to recount the amazingly fabulous exploits of my life in Ethiopia. For instance, today, in fact, has started reasonably well, if not at all productive in the work sense. It is like 10 am and I am sitting at some random person’s desk in the only office in the health bureau that appears to be open and unlocked. There is one other person in here with me. I’ve met him before, briefly (on one of my whirlwind introduction tours), but I’ve forgotten his name or what his job is. As far as I can tell, he spends his work days sitting at his laptop and singing along to Ethiopian music. I mean, if today is any indication of other work days. He doesn’t even have some sort of document open on his desktop in order to make it look as though he’s actually doing something work-related. I admire this rebellious, anti-establishment, not going against his principles, type of mentality that he’s portraying (although in reality, I doubt that this manner or thinking has ever crossed his mind). Then again, I’m spending my work time writing a blog entry, so it’s not like I’m actually judging.

The office is nice today. We have power, and the windows are open, letting a refreshing breeze flow through. I have also officially decided I’m giving up on working on this god forsaken bulletin, so a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It feels fabulous! Basically, yesterday evening I made run for the hotel from Habtamu’s during a break in what was a spectacular display of lighting, thunder, and monsoon-style rains, in order to talk to people in the office back in New Orleans via skype. I’ve been super stressed and worried that people were going to be upset at me when I returned to the U.S., not actually having completed anything in Ethiopia. I also had to talk to them about my return date. Basically, I was told that no one’s upset, that they will find something for me to complete for my practicum when I get back, that it sounds like the work set-up/situation was a nightmare and it was not my fault that everything just didn’t work out, and that I should just return as scheduled (I think that would mean leaving here on the 30th?). Imagine here, if you will, that my shoulders have heaved a huge sigh of relief, and that I can now sleep easier at night. So, after my extremely long, ranting, blog entry of yesterday, in which I blamed myself and all my myriad faults for failing in my internship, as well as whinging on and on about everything for what probably seemed like the length of a book (a big, fat, heavy one), but was really only like 5,000 words (yep, I checked, it’s true), I have decided it’s not my fault, and I’m not going to care about something if the people I’m supposed to be doing this for don’t care, and so  I’ve washed my hands of it. I now feel guilt free!!! Sound the trumpets and let the celebrations begin. It’s a miracle!

What makes last night even better, is that I hung out with some of the people who own the hotel (well the son of the owner and his wife, to be more precise). They are a really sweet couple. They’re both originally from India, but the son spent a good portion of his life in Ethiopia, even going to high school here. She moved here around 4 months ago. It was nice to hang out with some people close to my age, and who speak English fluently for a change (my Ethiopian friends here speak well, of course, but it’s somehow different when you speak to another foreigner. It’s like a special understanding).

Anyway, as I suddenly felt better about the world, I decided to take Habtamu up on his offer of going out for drinks. He was out with his brother and his brother’s friend when I rang him, but they were getting ready to go home anyway, so Habtamu said he could meet up with me. We then went to Efficient, which is a cute, quieter bar (with a amazingly ironic name for any commercial establishment in this country), not too far from my hotel, and which is one of the best bars here in my opinion.

The thunder and lightning were still playing tag across the sky, and while rain threatened, it was only a ruse to keep the less adventurous souls indoors, so we sat outside and enjoyed the rare, cool night breeze, even as I pulled on my hoodie for warmth. We had a couple of beers there, and philosophised about life, the universe, and everything, until the bar closed it’s doors.

Habtamu wanted to stay out, so I let myself be pulled along to the nightclub around the corner. I can’t remember what it was called, I’d not been there before, but I would definitely go back. It wasn’t large, and while there were people there, it wasn’t packed (I mean it was a Wednesday night, and all), but the music was a good mix of hip hop and standard Ethiopian club mix, and I loved watching the small group of dancers on the dance floor. I wanted to get up and dance myself, but decided to hold back and just take it all in. After our beer there, I thought we were going back to our respective homes for the night, but Habtamu wanted to try one last place, so I grudgingly agreed to go.

I’m sort of a 3 beer limit type of person. This is not particularly because I generally get drunk off three beers, but more because I rarely am in the mood for beer, and it’s just so filling that I can only handle so much. The guys here that I hang out with can drink though, and seem to be under the impression that ‘I’m just going to have one beer tonight,’ and ‘I don’t want to drink anything’ actually means ‘sure I’ll match you drink for drink, even though you probably weigh at least 100 pounds more than me.’ I’ve tried refusing, but it’s a losing battle.

So when we arrived at Desire, another nightclub and our final destination for the evening, I allowed another beer to be placed in front of me with only a small internal sigh. Once again, I enjoyed the music and the people on the dance floor, and thought about dancing, but didn’t act upon it. This time though, it was mostly because I thought it was more fun to point out the differences between the ways the sex workers and the female patrons danced with the guys they were with. There was one particular sex worker who was actually a super amazing dancer. There were even a couple (non-creepy/sexual) moves that she did, that I may want to try out next time I go dancing.

Anyway, we didn’t stay too long at the final place, but it was late enough, and Habtamu walked me back to the hotel before going home himself. This was the first time that I arrived at the hotel and the gates were locked (I’ve come home later, but maybe it was on weekend nights or something). The gate was quickly opened for me by the guards (who, by the way, search every Ethiopian that comes through their doors, and have never searched me), I retrieved my key from the front desk, and fell into bed.

It was apparent, upon waking this morning, that I may have drank a wee bit too much the night before. After years of hanging out with army guys, rockstars, and other such rabble, I’ve learned (Quick note: If you are reading this and happen to be paternally/maternally related to me, I apologise in advance if the following statement shatters any sadly misplaced illusions you may have of me) that I can hold my own in terms of alcohol. This is especially true, in fact, if the alcohol in question happens to be whiskey. What I didn’t figure into last night’s equation, however, was that I recently have been ill, have lost weight, haven’t been eating much/well, and I haven’t had anything alcoholic to drink in a while. While I wasn’t piss-drunk or anything, it’s possible that I may have woken up feeling like I had been hit over the head with a shovel. A really, really big shovel. If it weren’t for the fact that I knew that the maids would soon come to my door and demand to clean my room (never mind that they start knocking on my door by like 7 am everyday. Who does that? ), I might not have gotten out of bed at all. I also knew that food and coffee would make me feel like a person again, so I stumbled through my morning routine and went downstairs to order breakfast.

Happily, the food helped tremendously, and my new friends came and sat with me for breakfast. Yay to not eating alone! I ended up having a very enjoyable early morning, and as I didn’t care anymore about the bulletin, and because nobody I rang at the office was answering their phones, I made the executive decision not to show up here until I felt like it. Sigh, giving up all hope and just washing myself clean of things has really done wonders to my outlook on life! Furthermore, since I’ve been here, I’ve talked to Lusaget, and, starting tomorrow, I will just follow him around and help him out. He’s happy I gave up on the bulletin thing too. In fact, I’m going to help teach this ‘how to be productive’ course (or something like that, hilarious, I know) next week until I go back to Addis. I’m really excited to have something to do, and I like teaching, so best of both worlds I suppose.

All in all, this day appears to be an ‘up’ day for me, and I’m just going to do my best to enjoy the rest of my stay here, have a good time, do some writing (I have lots of story ideas), and hang out with friends. I do have a French exam tonight that I’m mostly terrified about, as it’s over everything we should have learned up until this point, never mind the fact that I’ve just started and I have no idea about most things they’ve already learned, but it’s not as though it counts for anything. I’m fully prepared to extend my new philosophy on life to this exam and just take it as it comes, and not stress about it. Sigh, I think today will be a good day, and I plan to do my best to beat Habtamu at our now daily game of Deposit. It’s a card game that he taught me. It’s really fun, but so far I’ve only won once (out of like a million rematches), and even I’ll admit that it was a really lucky win.


What I’ve learned today/recently:

  1. Deposit is like the most fun card game ever.
  2. People think it’s strange that when I use a fork, I use it in my left hand. I’ve explained that while I’m happy to respect the ‘when eating with one’s hands, one must use one’s right hand only’ rule, but I refuse to let this extend to my utilisation of cutlery. My dirty, disgusting, culturally incorrect left hand is not in any way touching my food or my mouth, and I don’t think its unworthiness could possibly transfer to the fork that my hand is holding, so I refuse to make awkward attempts at using the fork with my right hand. They think this is hi-larious.
  3. If you are a Christian, but don’t keep fasting law (as in all of my friends here), you still can’t buy your meat/animal products from a Muslim vendor, even though people only eat fresh food here (how are you going to rely on refrigeration to keep things fresh when there’s not a reliable power supply?), and the majority of Christian vendors don’t sell such things on fasting days.
  4. We are still (I think) in a fasting period here, which lasts for a 14 day (or so) stretch of time. Yay to more shiro wat being available!
  5. Habtamu’s course fees (i.e. this is a correction from a statement in my previous post) are not roughly 5,000 birr (i.e. the 500 USD that was mentioned), but actually 5,000 dollars. I think this is still a way doable goal if I can find donations, or ways to help him out with this.
  6. My Somali tattoos may have faded away, but my arm hair appears to be permanently painted black in the areas where the tattoos were. It is sort of funny looking, especially because it is in the shape of the tattoo that was once there. I’ve thought about shaving my arms to counteract this Dalmatian effect, but then I thought a bit more about it, and realised that I was actually thinking of shaving my arm hair, which is a completely ridiculous thing to do, in my book. So I will have spots for awhile it seems. I’m trying to make up a good story to go with it.
  7. Apparently people in this country are relatively hairless. I mean, I guess this should not be a revelation. I see most of my friends naked from the waist up on a daily basis, but I guess it just didn’t hit me until recently. This is because recently, my friend Raphael told me that I’m very hairy. Awesome, thanks. What a charmer he is sometimes. This statement of his was actually precipitated by statement number 6.
  8. I’m extremely happy with myself for picking up my writing again. Even if all I’m writing is self-indulgent trash that may or may not be interesting to anyone else, I feel much better about the world when I write. It’s sort of like a relief as well as my balance point.
  9. I really miss chocolate chip cookies

Day 50

19 August/Day 50 (yeah, it’s ridiculous, I know)

So, in case this was not obvious, I’ve not written in my blog in awhile. Quite awhile it seems. I thought about catching up on all the days I missed, a daunting task, but one which wouldn’t be too difficult as I already started and I also have notes on the things that occurred in my life since I stopped with the updates. However, I decided that I didn’t want to do it. Instead, I will just give a general run-down, and maybe mention whatever else pops into my mind. So anyway, as it stands, my life in the last couple weeks has taken on a sheen which bears a slight resemblance so what some may call ‘routine,’ although maybe not quite. It all started the day after my last entry when I, as I recall, had prepared to storm the offices of the Health Bureau, demanding I be given an actual job to do. I felt like a somewhat deflated crusader as I walked into work that day. My fiery determination of the day before had become somewhat withered, but I decided that something had to be done, so I was going to do, well, something. I have, in fact, made many mistakes since I’ve been here, which had led to this particular point, and I was ready to make some changes for myself. Aside from the mistakes however, I’ve also learned some very valuable lessons. A particularly pertinent lesson on my true nature was made quite apparent in fact, even as I to this day (you know oh so many weeks later, I have become so much wiser), still haven’t found a way to take the lesson and with it create change (which strangely enough, the moral of many of my research papers). The lesson (which may actually be more of a personal acknowledgment) is that I am an inherently shy person, and this can affect my professional performance level. It’s true. I think I hide this fact rather well, although one can never be sure how one is perceived by others, but yes, I’m quite shy. Well, at least until I feel comfortable in a situation anyways. People have always commented to me that I am someone who speaks up, fights for what I believe in or think is right, and who demands what they want. I’m often an altogether too blunt a person, some might say, one who is maybe too aware of the fact that it is an easy thing to bring forth the charisma and charm that can command a room or bend a will to their own. Yeah, I know that, and I’m not always proud at how I use that ability. I’m usually good at getting what I want, and it seems that when I flick that ‘switch’ inside me, I can get people to stumble over themselves to help me in whatever my current quest might be. I also know that I’m selfish, temperamental, fickle, unstable (at times), sometimes more serious than is good for me, have a huge temper, hates being made to look a fool more than anything, loves to be the person in the middle of the room that everyone wants to talk to, and am utterly shy (Gee, I love when I make myself sound like a winner). All this is really beside the point. What it comes down to in the end, is that it isn’t that I lack confidence (at least not generally), but even as it seems like I may recklessly leap from one thing to another, not thinking things through, and am unable to stick with anything for long (no, I have not thought this through as thoroughly as it seems, I’ve just been called on it one too many times, not to grudgingly be able to admit to it), I am utterly shy. Ask my parents, I was an alternately meek, quiet child, and a whirlwind force to be reckoned with. Opposite ends of the spectrum on everything. Yep, that’s me. I never wanted to be afraid though, and I definitely never wanted others to know it when I was, so I tried to keep that side of me from ever being visible. In retrospect, I imagine I was likely not as thorough in this matter as I may have wished, but it is what it is. It is, in fact, my nature, despite all my self-inflicted training to the contrary, to shrink back into my head and just hang out there until I feel comfortable enough in the situation to step in and try and be an exemplary specimen of humankind, or just to throw a really good tantrum. Basically, what all this introspective babble comes down to is that the gist of my time in Ethiopia has been no exception to the generalities of my life. It’s just that here I never really had a chance to get comfortable (whatever that means). I think I’ve been too passive about everything, really. Although, when I think about it, I guess it’s not passivity in a way, but more of an inability to show up every day and demand that someone do something. I mean, so okay, I’ve made some demands (usually at the point when my patience completely died out, or when I got too frustrated to try and continue to be diplomatic, but whatever), and I’ve tried to get things to happen, but maybe I just didn’t try hard enough or often enough. Since arriving in Dire (and to a lesser extent in Ethiopia), I’ve felt like I have no foothold. I’m by myself here, I don’t even have a desk in an office (well that a lie, I do have a desk, but the person with the keys has been in a political meeting since I’ve arrived, which means the door to the office is always locked. So, henceforth and hitherto, no desk), or someone to supervise my work here. Let’s be frank, I don’t really even have work here, which is the reason for this long, self-deprecating soliloquy in the first place! But basically, I think I’ve done the wrong thing by trying to accept it when people have told me that I have to wait, that things are being delayed, that I can’t work on the project that I was going to work on for whatever lame myriad of reasons, and that I have to wait to talk to someone else who’ll never be around before things will get sorted. I accepted this at first quite easily, especially since I was new and had no idea what was going on. Well, the thing is, I’m still new and I still don’t really have any better idea of what is going on, and now I’ll be leaving soon. So where did my brilliant strategy get me? Hmmm, that would be nowhere. I mean don’t get me wrong, I threw some perfectly magnificent tantrums, and for the rest of the day following them, things seemed like they might be changing for the better. There was hope. But nothing really actually happened or changed. Its weird, it’s like I’m afraid to do anything here, like I don’t know what to ask, or when I think I do, I have some strange aversion to just asking it, until I absolutely have to. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I think I hate it, and I think it’s been a mistake on my part. Sigh. And here I go again with the excuses (they’re not really that good, so don’t hold your breath): I’m here alone, and there is clearly no precedent set up to deal with a person (i.e. foreign student on an internship) coming to help out like I am, so there is nothing pre-arranged for me, no opening in staffing that needed to be filled with my presence, and people don’t know what to do with me. I don’t fit in to the general hierarchy of things, so I’m just left out. I’m also the only foreigner in this office, so it’s hard to do things, when the day’s business is conducted completely in Amharic (which I really wouldn’t mind, if I knew on arrival what was going on and what exactly was expected of me). I also hate trying to do things by myself here, because I don’t know where to go, who to talk to, what I’m doing, who to ask, and hate dealing with people calling out to me on the street or commenting on how I’m a foreigner every waking minute of my goddamned life. You mean I really don’t blend in?! This whole time I thought I looked at least half Ethiopian! There’s strength in numbers. I miss those numbers. I don’t even have a desk to sit at, so where do I go when I get to the bureau, much less have no idea what to do. I’m fresh out of a master’s in public health course, with no practical experience (this was supposed to be ground zero on that), and even less of an idea what public health people actually do (somehow the details seemed a bit hazy), so how can I come up with things to do on my own? Blah, blah blah, blah, blah. I have a long laundry list of reasons why I’ve acted the way I did (most of them likely quite redundant), but in the end it was still probably the wrong way to go about things. I should have been more proactive than I was. I merely played the part of being proactive without the follow-through, and without the force needed behind it. I’m fairly sure I can recall a number of times I’ve been in this position before. I shouldn’t be making mistakes twice, now should I? Anyway, back to the point of this story, which would actually involve talking about things that have gone on since I’ve last written, in case you’ve forgotten what I was on about in the first place (I’d hate for you to have to scan back through all of this drivel just to find it again), is that I thought everything was finally changing for the better, because I was introduced to a guy named Suraphael. When I walked into the office that morning, trying to steel my courage to talk to people I didn’t know, about things that I knew nothing about (but would of course proceed to talk about them like I did), Africa told me there was someone I should meet. I was introduced to Suraphael. Something about him, immediately made me feel on the one hand like he was an immediate friend, someone I could treat like a brother even, and on the other hand, someone who was going to get on my last nerve (so you know, basically exactly like a brother). I didn’t really know initially what was going on or why I was being introduced to him (big surprise there), but it turned out that he was also on the team to write the bulletin. He told me that I could in fact start working on it, and that he would help me. Hooray! It’s was a breakthrough! My tattered spirits began collecting themselves in order to attempt to rise. Soon after meeting, the two of us left the health bureau, got coffee, talked about the bulletin, and then I met up with his friends, Habtamu, and Musfun (along with another friend named Musfun who was just in town visiting for the day). This was the start of what may have not turned into the most perfect or productive of working relationships, but what did start to get me into a more routine rhythm of life here, and gave me some great friends. Basically since meeting this crew, my daily life has pretty much been more or less as follows: Wake-up try to do some work in the morning (if there’s power, if I feel so inclined, if there’s something to do, if people are at their office, etc), meet at Habtamu’s for lunch, partake in a delicious coffee ceremony, hang out in the afternoon while they chew chat at either Musfun’s or Haptamu’s (during which time, I feel like I should mention, boys all wear skirts, and take their shirts off. The first time people started to get naked in front me I was slightly concerned, but have since found this tradition amazing yet slightly hilarious.), get into major political/religious/Ethiopian culture discussions and/or watch the news if there’s power, fight with Suraphael because we’re both stubborn in regards to absolutely everything, try to get some work done in the afternoon, and then either go home, go to French class, or have a couple beers with the crew, before going back to the hotel and going to sleep. Having friends has been wonderful, and has improved my stay here significantly. Suraphael has really tried to help me, even as we alternately fight and are great friends, and I’ve especially become close with Habtamu. In fact, it has been strange how quickly I feel like hanging out with them is just a daily given. They have really helped to make my time here less lonely, and I’ve learned a lot about Ethiopia, the culture, and the language through them. I’ve definitely still had my ups and downs though. For awhile I had a hard time with Suraphael because he wouldn’t listen to me when I said no (i.e. when I didn’t want to go out because I wasn’t feeling well, didn’t feel like going, or had other things to do). I basically got a little overwhelmed for awhile by him, even if he’s done everything with the best intentions. I also have still gotten lonely. They’re great, and I’m definitely glad to have proper Ethiopian friends instead of only foreigners during my stay here, but every once in a while I need the foreigner contact, just to feel at home. Also, while me and Suraphael have planned to do lots of different projects, including the bulletin, things just haven’t come to fruition. He has tried to help me, but I don’t really know what I’m doing, and he doesn’t always understand why I’m asking for the different information that I’m asking for, or what I’m trying to accomplish. I’m not always sure I know either. We’ve both been super frustrated at times. Additionally, I’ve had a hard time figuring out when it is that people actually work in this city, due to the fact that most people seem to spend the majority of their day chewing chat, and thus I’ve found it hard to be productive. Emotionally, I’ve also been super up and down since my arriving in Dire (which has really be a first since I started my travels): alternately feeling frustrated, hopeless, super motivated, happy, angry, tired of it all, lonely, excited, and annoyed, among many other things, sometimes in the space of just a few hours. I don’t know why I’ve been so up and down here, but it’s been tiring to say the least, and I don’t like it, but I can’t seem to help it or myself. Some of it is fully justified, and some of it feels irrational. I think, when it comes down to it, I’m happy that I’ve come to Dire because of the city itself, and because of the friends I’ve made, but I’ve just become so frustrated and jaded by trying to work since my arrival in this country, that it’s affected everything I say, do, or feel. It’s hard and strange to feel like I wish I could leave as soon as possible one minute, and stay much longer the next. Honestly, to sound hopelessly optimistic, I think my arrival here just coincided with some really bad timing. I mean EVERY project that I was supposed to work on has been delayed indefinitely and/or cancelled due to various reasons, most of the work force in the health bureau is at the political meetings which last for more than the duration of my entire stay (which, I should also add, are of course in Amharic, so not useful for me to attend), the head of the bureau is in America until right before I’m scheduled to leave the country, and I was told today that the Brazilians won’t be here until October now (although, I’m not holding my breath that they will actually been arriving then/ever). I guess I’m just trying to pretend that things would be different if the timing was different, but one probably shouldn’t postulate on such matters. As it currently stands, I have been told at this point that the bulletin is not a priority, that they are not ready to outline what they want from it, give me current information, or help me in any way. They’ve told me I should not be working on it. No one has given me a different job. I’ve asked. I’ve also asked to help out with other people’s work. Most people are not in the office, but I’ve asked the people I’ve met who I know are. Basically, I know the interior of my hotel room better than anywhere else in Ethiopia. No wonder I’ve been getting down. There is just no organisation here, or any kind of structure set up for me to work within. People withhold information from me all the time. It’s like pulling teeth to get anything from people, and I don’t always know the right questions to ask (and by not always, I mean, probably very rarely). Recently, another setback that’s occured is that I’ve also been ill. I don’t know what it was. At first I just felt slightly feverish and flu-like. I thought maybe it was the flu or even malaria (I was quite scared that this was the case, actually), and I sort of felt like I didn’t want to move out of bed for awhile, which, I should mention, is not a typical Ethiopian reaction to feeling ill. People were very confused and sort of upset seeming that I just wanted to stay in bed. My friends didn’t understand why I didn’t want to come over and hang out, or go out with them. They also didn’t understand why I didn’t want to go to the hospital. Basically, they told me that if I didn’t feel well, that’s the first thing I should do. Being that I was in no way convinced I was actually malarial, or dying from some terrible disease, I didn’t feel like going to the hospital was necessary. I knew that I’d been having a hard time sleeping since I arrived in Dire (as in I fall asleep as well as can be expected from me, but would, without fail, wake up a few hours later, and not sleep for the rest of the night), and I figured that if I just got a good night’s sleep, rested a bit during the day, drank a lot of water, didn’t have any beers in the evening, and you know, was generally being healthy and taking care of myself, that I would feel better. They did not in any way understand this approach. I quickly realised that I had two options: go see a doctor, or hang out even when I felt like absolute hell, and pretend to be civil. I weighed these options, and chose to hang out. I don’t like doctors (sorry friends, I don’t mean you). Continuing to hang out, even in a seriously truncated fashion may have not been a good life choice. I managed to feel ill for over a week. Sigh. Basically, the fever and flu-like symptoms went away within a few days, and I experience a temporary feeling of wonderful wellness, which lasted like a day. Soon after, I started having stomach issues. I probably don’t have to describe the graphic symptoms I was having. They were pretty much like you would imagine foreigners in African countries would experience…. It sucked. A lot. I also sort of wanted to die at least a little bit. No, I did not go to see a doctor at this point, I am mostly bull-headed and once I’ve decided something is going to be a certain way, it takes practically a biblical-style miracle to change my mind. Surprised? Yeah, thought not. Anyway, this illness (which I am not finally symptom free from!) has basically made me completely lose my appetite, and I have not yet gained it back. This is actually a current worry of some significance. Since arriving in Dire I have started to lose the weight I gained in Switzerland, France, and Addis. I’m fairly sure I didn’t gain much weight to begin with (I wasn’t actually bothered by it, and it’s not like I weighed myself or anything), but I noticed that it was seeming to go away. This weight loss was probably originally due to the fact that I was no longer consuming the rich foods I’d eaten in Europe, or the mass amounts of food I happily consumed at other people’s houses in Addis. With the onset of illness in Dire, however, I started to realise that my face was getting a bit too thin. Compounded with the fact that my appetite has completely disappeared and the thought of food makes me feel immediately repulsed and disgusted (I know, not my normal M.O.), I have started to get worried. Yes, I’m still eating (although not as much as I should be, despite my best efforts). Yes, I kept hydrated as best I could throughout. Yes, I also sometimes feel dizzy and lightheaded. I still have no idea what I weigh, but I’m perhaps slightly concerned that I’m starting to resemble a more angle-y, skeletal version of my usual self. I do not like this possibility. I’m generally angle-y enough. To counteract this, and because I’m feeling alright now, I’ve been giving myself strict eating guidelines at every meal, that I’m harshly enforcing upon myself. I’ve been, for example, deliberately ordering fatty foods, fresh juices, and veggies, and consuming a set number of bites at each sitting. It’s sort of like my adult(ish) self has created a dictator-like set of rules that my child-like non-appetite self has to follow in order to leave the table and/or floor (which is where I actually consume most of my meals here). I’ve also found it easier to eat a meal if I order room service, because then I can take as long as I need to eat, and can in fact do so while distracting myself with things like reading and television. Sigh. Don’t worry, I feel better, and I’m sure that even if I return to the U.S. as a slightly shrunken version of my former self, the need to immediately consume every food I’ve missed (likely at the same time), will quickly overwhelm any predilections towards food abstention, and I will return to my former glory (um, I mean weight). I’m just glad that the food I’m putting into my body is now staying there for a period of time that’s more standard regulation in the digestive realm of things. Yay. Oh, the amazing trials and tribulations of my life in Ethiopia. So interesting, I’m sure. I think another reason things have been so up and down here is that things are no longer exciting and new, and to top it off, I’ve left my Addis friends and I’m just slightly lonely. I have this really annoying tendency to curl up in a hole and become absolutely unable to accomplish anything (case and point: keeping up with the blog) when I’m not feeling happy for whatever reason, which just contributes to greater loneliness/unhappiness. You see, horrible cycle of self-abuse. This is annoying because I am well aware that my personal remedy to counteract self-pity/an Eoyore-like outlook in life, involves me being social, and hanging out with people, in about 99.9% of cases, which is like the one thing I will resist doing more than anything else. I love it when I frustrate/bore even myself with my emo-ness and self-serving self-pity. Awesome. I need to get out of my head. I’ve always spent too much time there. Anyway, aside from making unsuccessful attempts at this bulletin that I don’t really care about, spending time with new friends, and going to French class, I haven’t been up to much else. My adventures as of late have not actually been earth-shattering or profound. When it comes down to it, I’m pretty much amazed that I’ve managed to fill this many pages, but then again, I’m often far too long-winded. Basically, I’m officially still trying to be of service here, but have unofficially already given up. Please don’t let my conscious self know this, as I’m trying to take a more positive and upbeat outlook on things for the remainder of my time here, and to stop worrying about my ineffectiveness, and the fact that I’ve basically failed at everything I’ve tried to help out on. Something I would like to mention though, that I hope I can acutally be helpful on, regards the situation of a new good friend. Habtamu, like I mentioned is one of the people I’ve become close to since coming here. We’ve talked together a lot about the world, what we want to do with our lives, our pasts, etc. I think he’s an amazing person. Without getting too much into his personal life story, here’s the basic rundown: He’s originally from Jigjiga, but he currently works as a UN volunteer here in Dire, doing finance work related to the health sector and humanitarian development. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance, and has worked for a string of NGO’s before the UN, including MSF, and an organisation focused on helping start woman cooperatives and designing/funding micro-finance businesses with/for them in the Somali region. He is passionate about carrying out development work here in Ethiopia. He wants to help see his country thrive and grow, but he also wants a chance to see the world. He has a 2 year-old daughter that is the cutest thing ever, and he is super devoted to her. He also has helped strangers get their education, provide money to help support other less fortunate members of his family, and is giving in a way that somehow has really touched me. He is basically a caring, smart, wonderful, selfless person, who has been a great friend to me since I’ve been here. And I want to help him. He really wants to continue working for the U.N. or if necessary, another NGO focused on humanitarian development, but there is a problem. Almost all the jobs available in this country (or even elsewhere when it comes down to it) require a master’s degree. He is extremely motivated though, to get an MBA that is focused on development. This gets complicated because this is an expensive venture, the Ethiopian government only recognises some of the MBA courses that are available here, and the best place that it is considered to have a degree from is the U.S. This is a guy that’s come from quite humble beginnings, and doesn’t really have the money to even afford most of the courses here in Ethiopia, much less the multiple exams, entrance fees, course fees, moving expenses, airfare, etc., required to go to university in the U.S. He has helped many other people, even though he’s only a few years older than myself. I want to make sure that he too is helped. So, if anyone reads this and knows something about good MBA courses in the U.S. (especially ones focused on development), and/or full scholarships for international students, please let me know. If you have old TOEFFL or GMAT study guides you are willing to send them here, let me know, and I will give you the address and can reimburse you for the shipping. If you know of any other resources that could be helpful, I will also pass that on to him. It’s hard to do research about anything here, because the internet connection is poor at best, and unreliable, as is the power supply during this time of the year, so my blind fumblings for resources to help him are not coming up that fruitful. I know nothing about MBA courses (which is oh so surprising, I’m sure), and I need someone’s more expert advice. I can help him take the steps necessary if I know what they are. There’s one last way I also am looking for help. It is my intention (of which he has no idea), to provide him with some financial help to at least cover exam fees (GMAT and TOEFFL) and application fees. If you know of a foundation or anything that helps with such things, I’d be super appreciative to learn about it. Also, if you are interested in donating something small yourself, I can set up an account to make sure this happens. Just let me know. If it ends up proving too difficult to manage the twists and turns of all the paperwork involved in the U.S. education system for whatever reason, I plan to help fund his studies here. I can’t remember the exact figures of the course he would want to take here, but I believe it comes out to something like $500 US dollars for the 2 years of study. This sum to most people in the western world probably seems negligible, especially in terms of education. For him, it is what is standing in the way of accomplishing his goals. So, once again, any help you can give, I would be so appreciative. This friend of mine has inspired me, and I hope that even if I haven’t accomplished the things I set out to do when I arrived here, that I can at least help one person who can. So anyway, I have written a lot of things in this rambling and random entry that have been negative and defeatist. I just want to make sure that I mention the fact that as I look back upon my time in Ethiopia, knowing that I will soon be racing off towards the next adventure, I still feel quite privileged to have had this opportunity, and I’ve learned a lot, even if it wasn’t what I expected. I also think that there’s still got to be a silver lining, and that there are lessons and other experiences that I can take with me to help me in my future life, professionally and otherwise, which will hopefully make me wiser and more successful in the future. Here are some examples that I’ve come up with, I will likely add more to it later.

What I will take with me:

1. I am not ready to be a professional. I am still a child. Help!

2. I am not confident enough in my public health skills (which I as of yet have no definition of) to go it alone without any guidance. Once again, Help!

3. I still want to be a writer.

4. I know nothing about computers, but owning and using a MAC pretty much anywhere except Europe and/or North America is not a good idea if you want it to work and/or be generally useful.

5. I hate living out of hotels. Even really nice ones.

6. It’s the stories of people that have moved me since I’ve been here. If I found a way to get other people to listen to them, maybe I could help in some way.

7. I need to make sure that no matter where I go in my many adventures, I find a way to make a space for myself that feels like home, so that I don’t get sad.

8. I need to become more assertive, when things are not going my way, even if I’m still in meek as a mouse mode.

9. I need to spend more time trying to learn the local language before I actually arrive in the locality.

10. I need to be more careful before I agree to do something. I.e. I need to make sure that things are clearly set up and the job is well-defined before I agree to it.

11. You can only be so flexible. At some point you just have to cut your losses. It’s okay to sometimes walk away.

12. You can’t always worry about being polite.

13. Learn more about public health!!!

14. Continue agreeing to almost every adventure people want to take you on. You never know what you might see!

15. Remember that you’re super moody, and that sometimes people might not understand the cause of it.

16. Try to stop being so moody, or at least outwardly so.

17. Speak up when things start going bad, not after its been bad for awhile. Don’t worry about offending someone.

18. Figure out what is needed to be more instantly at ease and comfortable so that this whole ‘shy’ excuse can’t be used (i.e. act, you’re good at it!)


Additionally, I’ve been thinking about this lately, so here are a couple more unfinished lists:

Things I miss about being anywhere but here:

1. Delicious daiquiris

2. Going dancing and not feeling like I’m going to get kidnapped, leered at, commented to, followed around all night, and generally made to feel dirty, uncomfortable, and all together icky

3. Cooking my own food

4. Panini’s 5

. Sandwiches in general

6. The ability to listen to good music (i.e. not American country music, and/or old Enrique Inglesias)

7. Being around people who inherently understand me (culturally and/or linguistically)

8. The freedom to do what I want when I want it (you know, for the most part)

9. Walking down the street alone without receiving comments/leers

10. Ice cream that is safe to eat (especially creole creamery ice cream, and/or mint chocolate chip)

11. A good caipirinha

12. Reading on my front porch

13. Curling up with my boys

14. Sushi

15. Laser tag

16. Doing outdoorsy things

17. Swimming

18. Friends (you know, the ones who aren’t here)

19. Queer people

20. Control over at least some things in my life

21. Living in not a hotel

22. Bagels and cream cheese

23. Fake bacon, white chedder rice cakes, and cream cheese (yes, I’m very classy, thank you)

24. Free internet

25. Electricity that’s fairly constant

26. Going vampire hunting with Jo

27. my kittens

28. Having a purpose for my day

29. Burritos

30. Rock Band

31. Going on adventures with friends

32. Kittens!

33. Good pizza

34. Rock Star nights

35. Rice and beans

36. My cinnamon tea

37. Sarcasm (oh why oh why does this country not understand sarcasm?!?!)

38. Bonfires

39. Coffee shops

40. All the TV shows/films that I could ever watch online

41. Books in mass quantities in languages I speak

42. A bedroom of my very own.

43. Curry (preferably pineapple)

44. Friends that are not only of the straight male variety (I can only take so much, it’s true…)

45. A work ethic I can identify with

46. Street names

47. Washing my own clothes (yes, I’m strange I know)

48. A home

49. My own space

50. An understanding of what I mean when I say the word ‘no,’ and how it is very, very, very unlikely that I actually mean yes.

51. The rest of my clothes that I left behind

52. Showers that have at the very least, some modicum of warm water

53. Midnight walks

54. Jumping around my room dancing and singing


Things I love about Ethiopia:

1. The plethora of mangos and mango juice readily available for my consumption

2. The availability of a good soya cappuccino (with chocolate)

3. Coffee ceremonies, and well, the coffee in general

4. How open and inviting people are

5. The selflessness found so much more commonly than in many other places I’ve been

6. Delicious tea (black tea with cloves?)

7. People’s generosity and no stress attitudes

8. The amazing history here

9. Written Amharic (not that I can read it mind you, but it’s very pretty looking)

10. The religious and political discussions I engage in every day

11. Pineapple shots

12. Making new friends

13. The countryside

14. The wildlife

15. Learning about the differences between different tribes

16. The cost of things

17. The markets

18. Learning the language

19. Henna tattoos

20. The tiny little taxis

21. The food

22. Papaya juice with milk

23. The thunderstorms and the rain

24. That everyone is so laid back

25. Listening to the call to prayers from my hotel balcony

Day 35

4 August/ Day 35



            Sometimes people just need to feel like crap in order to feel good again. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll probably be quite lonely here for awhile, and work is still not seeming to go anywhere, but today was exponentially better than yesterday. Things started off pretty crappy, but they definitely picked up quickly enough.

            When I got up this morning (I woke up far to early for me to be comfortable with, probably because I feel asleep at like grandpa time the night before), I turned on the television while doing my morning routine for a little background noise, and ended up getting sucked into a Star Trek film (No, not the new one that came out a few months ago; one of the old Next Generation feature lengths. Yes, I know, I’m a total geek. It’s true), and couldn’t be bothered to eat in lieu of a half hour more time watching it, so I skipped breakfast. Not really every a good idea with me. I wasn’t actually hungry, but not eating breakfast regardless of hunger status, has never not equalled pissy, foul mood for me. I don’t know what I was thinking. Oh right, Star Trek film (that I still didn’t get to finish).

Anyway, when I arrived at the office at the appointed time, the first person I saw was Lamlam. She was on her way to a meeting, but she gave me more disappointing news. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. Sigh. Basically, everyone that is in the ‘we’re going to make a bulletin group’ except for her, was in the ‘Political Meeting’ (as everyone calls it). I think there was a hope by some of my supervisors originally, that I would sit in on said mysterious ‘Political Meeting, ‘ and then write a report on it, but since it will be conducted entirely in Amharic, I think that idea was re-thought. I really wish I spoke Amharic (I’m learning more and more everyday now, but my tiny vocabulary is not going to get me anywhere near the fluency rung anytime in the near future). Anyway, with almost everyone in the office, including this group out for the next 10 days for this meeting (who needs to meet to talk about politics for 10 days straight, I mean really), basically I was told that I couldn’t work on anything until they were done and could decide exactly what they wanted me to do. Sigh. I was not pleased with the news.

Towards the end of my conversation with Lamlam, Lusaget happened to walk up. He heard what we were talking about, and they discussed things for a bit, and she went off to her meeting. I may have blown up a bit at Lusaget after that. I mean, I knew it wasn’t his fault that things weren’t working out, and I wasn’t blaming him, but I got upset. I have now been in Ethiopia for 5 weeks tomorrow, and I have as yet done what probably amounts to 5 days worth of work if I’m being generous. Me being here (cool new cultural knowledge and travels aside) has so far been a waste of my time professionally speaking, a waste of Tulane’s money, and has just probably gotten in the way of certain coworkers’ schedules. I think I’ve been more than patient (a virtue that I rarely have any significant supply of). I let myself be pacified when I got upset at not having a job in Addis, because so many cool sounding things were promised to be waiting for me in the magical mystical land of Dire Dawa. I told myself to be patient again, when I finally did arrive in Dire Dawa and they had nothing ready for me, and in fact told me I couldn’t get started on the projects I was meant to do until after they had had more meetings about it, to decide that I could proceed. I figured, okay, I’ve just gotten here, give them a chance to get all the kinks worked out, even though they knew I was coming at least a month in advance, if not more. I mean, it’s not like I wanted to pass up a trip Somalia. When I got back to Dire Dawa, I thought to myself, ‘this is it. I can finally do some of the things I came here to do. I can finally be useful to this organisation.’ When I heard the news today, which basically meant that I would only actually be utilised for my last couple weeks in the country, if things went according to plan. I sort of snapped.

After my tirade, all of which Lusaget probably couldn’t catch, it was clear he felt bad for me. He’s a good guy. He told me that he didn’t have anything for me to do, but that I could help with the data entry that he had to finish before the day was out. I agreed, although to be perfectly fair, I grumbled inwardly about it. Telling myself that I didn’t need to come to Ethiopia to practice my data entry skills. At least it was something to do. I think he also realised that I’d been pretty isolated and lonely since my arrival. So, he took me with him to a couple health clinics in the area, which I did enjoy (and which he had to do some check-ups on), and then dropped me back at the hotel to do my data entry (he explained it would be more comfortable there). I decided to pamper myself a bit so’s I’d feel better, and so I got a cappuccino (well maybe I could have possibly gotten 2) at the restaurant, and did a 1 minute scan of my email, because I was told we’d go to a cheaper place later (I got a not so supportive one from my office at home, saying I should be grateful for getting to work with primary data. I wonder if they realise that until I got the sheets of data to enter today, I had not actually seen one speck of primary data in the last 5 weeks, despite asking for it). Afterwards, I headed up to my room to do work. The data entry was of course tedious, but I found that I was actually happy to be doing it. It finally felt like I was being helpful, and it was really good for me to see some of the numbers for various diseases and conditions in the area. I may actually enjoyed myself a little. It didn’t hurt that I got to do work while listening to my own music.

I was just contemplating going downstairs for lunch, when Lusaget called. He said that he, Yared, and Africa were just ordering lunch, if I wanted to join them. I said I did and that I’d be right down. He said great, and that I should bring my computer so that we could all do work somewhere else together later. So I gathered everything together, and went downstairs. There was a bit of confusion at this point. I thought Lusaget had said that they were at the hotel restaurant, which I admit had surprised me because it’s a bit expensive. So, after looking for them everywhere, I called them back asking where they were. Basically, this meant that Yared came and got me. They were right down the street at the café they always go to. It was close, I could have walked, and Yared had had to leave a meal that’d already arrived to come get me. I felt pretty terrible, but it was miscommunication in the end. They thought that I was asking for Yared to come, and not where they were. They didn’t realise I’d thought they’d said they were at the hotel. All was cleared up and forgiven.

Basically, they’d wanted me to come to lunch (and then an adventure with them later) because they realised I’d been feeling down. This was extremely sweet of, and I appreciated the gesture even more as the day went on. After eating, I was taken with them to a café/lounge place at a friend of Africa’s. They’d brought along chat, and the plan was to relax on cushions, chew chat (which I didn’t know was going to happen), enjoy each other’s company, and do the work that had to be done for the day. Despite the fact that it was boiling outside and the lack of electricity for the fan did nothing for my personal thermostat, not to mention the now commonplace to me, myriad of flies everywhere, this afternoon was exactly what I needed. I had some work to do, however menial, and I had some people to pass the time with. I really enjoyed today, and when it was time for me to get back so that I could go to French, I thanked them profusely.

French class also went well. Despite my trepidation over being in a level that I thought would be too hard, it was really good. Maybe I picked up more French than I thought in the time that I recently passed in France and Switzerland, or, well, I don’t know what happened. Either way, this class was a full book ahead of the one I’d been using in my Alliance classes in New Orleans, and I didn’t have any problems. We were doing a lot of reading comprehension and discussion of texts, and not only did I understand everything I read, but I also read it about 5 times faster than anyone else in the class. Weird. Additionally, I didn’t even have to think about what the teacher was saying to us or what he was talking about. This, admittedly, made me feel pretty good. I mean, I know that I still have loads of work to do when it comes to my speaking and writing skills, but reading, listening, and understanding are doing better than I realised, and that’s a nice feeling to have sometimes. I also met some people that seemed really cool in the class. Pele was of course there, and we shared his book until I was able to get one of my own, but everyone else was new. There was also one other foreigner: a guy working for the UN who’s originally from Sierra Leon. I can’t wait for Thursday’s class!

When the class ended, I got a ride back to the hotel and went to the bar. I had to pay for a water from earlier, and I wanted a gin and tonic. This going to the bar alone thing wasn’t something I’d done yet, because I mean really, who wants to drink alone. But, I wanted a drink, and I decided I just didn’t care. So I sat down, sipped my G&T, and read over some of my French text to the sound of the Backstreet Boys in the background. I talked to a few people, which was a nice change, and headed upstairs for the night. Soon after arriving upstairs, Danielle called (yay I though I missed her back accidently falling asleep early yesterday), and so I had a nice full sentence english chat with her before her plane boarded.

 Today was a good day, and now I have hope again for tomorrow. I’m planning on storming the Ministry of Health office and demanding to be allowed to help write articles on what’s going on in the region. I was told they always need help with this, and this seems like a good use of my time. Lets see how it goes.


What I learned today:

  1. The only music really imported in to Ethiopia from the US is country music. Why?
  2. When to use the different forms of greetings.
  3. That pit latrines really are better than regular toilets, more often than not.
  4. After a few days of western-style hotel restaurant food (which has not been bad at all), I was already craving Ethiopian

Day 34

3 August/ Day 34



            All in all, to be perfectly honest, today sucked. I was looking forward to today because I was supposed to finally begin my projects for work. I should have realised that nothings was going to go as planned, when I got online before work and got an email that really didn’t help me start off my day well. Things didn’t get better. When I dropped off my hotel key with the front desk (which you have to do when you go out everyday), I was told I was going to move rooms again, this time to the room I was supposed to originally have. Grrrr. I’d unpacked everything when I’d changed rooms last time. I understood why I was moving (they needed to have the 2 bed rooms available for people that are going to need 2 beds), I was just less than thrilled about the idea of packing again. I told them I’d pack when I got back from work and that I could move the next morning. They agreed that this would be fine with them. When I got to work I found Lusaget, and he helped to get me hooked up with this woman, Lamlam, who is heading up the bulletin project thing that I’m supposed to be writing. I’m also going to share an office with her. She seemed really nice and we had some good conversations, but because she didn’t of course know that I would be there, she said she couldn’t get all the data I’d need, compiled until the afternoon, so it’d be best if we met up again on Tuesday to actually get started. Okay, hearing that news was definitely another letdown. I don’t know why I keep working  myself up and getting excited about things. The projects that I’m supposed to working on really do sound cool, and it just keeps seeming like things are finally going to work out, so I start to count on that, and they just never do. I should probably just stop imagining that things will go as planned. Anyway, this all meant, in a nutshell that I once again had no work to do. I asked about if I could help with other people’s projects, but everyone said that they didn’t need help at the moment. 

Lusaget, Africa and me, decided to go out for coffee, as they didn’t have too much work for the day either. I guess that was an upside to my day. After coffee, Africa tried to help me find cheaper internet cafes, but unfortunately the network seemed to be down everywhere in the city. He had to go back to work, and I had nothing to do, so I went back to the hotel, and decided to pack and prepare to move.

It didn’t take as long as I’d anticipated for me to get packed up. Having an extra suitcase instead of having to strategically pack in order to fit everything into one rucksack was a huge part of this. I went back to the lobby, and they were surprised that I’d been able to get things taken care of today after all, but more than happy to have me move. I was pleasantly pleased to find out that it wasn’t a big move at all. I was going directly across the hall from where my room was. So it took all of two seconds to move across, and not much more time to unpack. That was when melancholy mood I started the day in, just really began to grab hold and not allow itself to be easily shaken off.

I guess when I replay up to this point in my day on the computer screen, it doesn’t actually sound so horrible, but, it definitely felt horrible. I’m the kind of person, I think, that even when the only thing in the world I want is some time alone, I need to know that I have the option of social interaction, in order to feel at peace with life, and be happy. At this point, I hadn’t had a proper conversation in English in over a week, I had no friends aside from those I made at work and who I couldn’t expect to look after me all the time, especially when they have their own jobs and things they have to get done, and basically I was just feeling so incredibly alone in the world, with no end in sight. I started to get all sentimental (in my head only, of course), and began lamenting over all the friends I’d left behind in my life, all the people I would soon be leaving. Yeah, I was having a great time with myself today, let me tell you. I ended up getting back online at the super expensive place (as it seemed to be the only one with connections today), because I’d said I would look up a bunch of stuff for the bulletin, and basically because I just couldn’t handle being alone with myself in my head anymore. I needed distraction.

After I’d been online for about 5 minutes, Alyssa happened to get online. Being able to talk to her, even via IM, and for not that long, was so so wonderful. I really needed to have a conversation with someone who knew me, and who spoke the same language as me. Even if I still was feeling super lonely and bored after I talked to her, it really helped just to communicate someone (someone amazing, might I add) for even that little bit of time. It was really, really nice. I mean, I am working on being able to hang out with just me, myself, and I a better, but feeling aimless in life while also channelling down in the dumps Euyore who’s been alone for the last few days, doesn’t exactly lead to positive self-growth time. Sigh.

After finding busywork for myself for much of the day, I did go to French class at 6. I was told that I should come at this time on Monday to find out my level. I figured I’d end up lower than I thought I’d be (beginner intermediate), because I hadn’t been practicing my French nearly as much as I’d planned to do while here. I ended up being told that I was actually getting put in the Advanced class (what?!?!? And how did that happen?!?!), and that therefore meant that my first official day of class would be on Tuesday evening instead. I may have been slightly shocked by this news. I may also have felt like a large mistake had been made, and I would be like a million years behind all my classmates. Oh well, I guess I figured that a challenge would only make me work harder.

While waiting to find out about which class I’d be in, the guy from Djibouti, Pele, who I’d hung out with the last time I’d been at the Alliance came and sat with me. He had brought a friend of his who was visitng from home along, named Mohammed. So we sat chatting for a long while about various things. Eventually, another guy showed up. His name was Mahrdi, and he told Pele in Amharic that he’d already met me. Pele asked if I remembered him. I shook my head yes, thinking I probably should remember him, while frantically searching my brain for his face from my memories of my first time at the Alliance. I was drawing a blank, and hoping I wouldn’t be asked to recall some detail of our supposed prior meeting, when Pele said, you know, you were in a lot of pictures with him. I was very confused at that response, but I suppose I shouldn’t have been. Apparently, I hadn’t met Mahrdi at the Alliance on my last visit, but in the hotel restaurant the day before. He was one of the many graduates posing with me. Awesome. Let me tell you, he was off to a great start with me…Blah… Anyway, trying to be magnanimous in a way that definitely didn’t extend to the way I was really feeling, I made it a point to include him in our conversation. About 5 minutes later he asked me to marry him, so that he could get a foreign passport. I pretended not to understand what he was saying, as his English really wasn’t very good, and in all actually I could have misunderstood what he was trying to say (it happens a lot to me here), but throughout the next 15 minutes or so of conversation, it became clear that I had understood perfectly well. He continued to push his agenda. Can I just say, moving to the top of my amazing people list?! (I am making my signature frown-y face here in case anyone was wondering.) Eventually I gave him about a million versions of ‘No way in hell’ (although perhaps in a slightly more polite manner), and stopped being so generous with trying to include him in our conversation. I called Yared and got a ride back to the hotel soon after.

Like I said at the beginning of today’s accounts, today mostly sucked. A lot of this may have been due to my state of mind, but that was only brought about by a combination of over a month of frustration on the work front, and the loneliness I’d been feeling in a strange new town where I felt cut off from the world, but still. Three words. State of mind. I realised after coming back from the Alliance, that I felt worlds better than I had all day. Just getting the chance to go out and be social, even for the hour that I’d hung out, really made me realise that the world wasn’t the horrible place I thought it was. I mean, through all this, I feel so lucky to have gotten this opportunity, not to mention the many opportunities I’ve had throughout my life and the last few years, but sometimes that just doesn’t stop you from feeling like you’re completely alone in the world and everything is just silently crumbling away around you. I really needed that hour at Alliance tonight. I really felt so much more positive and ready to face the world again. I guess that just goes to show that I’m an inherently social creature. I think we all already were quite aware of that, but whatever, just goes to show, that reinforcement was needed.

However, while my spirits had been lifted by the time I returned to the hotel, I was not feeling up to another supper looking pathetically alone at the restaurant. So, after contemplating whether it would be possible to order a takeaway daiquiri from the bar (Yeah, I went with mostly unlikely in the end, despite being tempted to try anyway), I did the extravagant thing and walked upstairs, turned on the television to Buffy re-runs, plopped on my bed, and ordered room service. Sometimes one needs a little pampering. Today was my day.