I am notoriously bad at keeping loved ones updated of my whereabouts. In California I would casually talk about my plans for Ethiopia, before the confused looks — indicating they had no clue I was moving there — would register in my mind.
So here goes for the interwebz: I’m currently in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.
I arrived a little over a week ago, to my new flatmates who had waited up for me well past midnight. They regaled me with cautionary tales of being scorched by the sun, chased in cemeteries, stared at through windows and called out to as “ferengi” (foreigner) or “China,” despite clearly not being Chinese. They spoke of power outages, tap water that turns to sludge when you boil it for too long, and unidentifiable bites … most likely the resurgence of the plague, of course.
I live with a colorful group, to say the least. I was lucky to walk into a situation where these three friends had already navigated many of the logistical challenges of moving to a new country. I learned from them how to take the mini-bus, where to find the university and the best nearby food, how to get a local sim card (which still hasn’t happened because the system is always down when we try), and even where a nice yoga studio exists.
So for my first full day in Addis, I visited the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS), where I’m studying this semester, as well as the main campus of Addis Ababa University. I attended a yoga class in the Kibena district. I also sampled two dishes similar in taste and composition (shiro and tegabino), which include the staple bread made from teff (injera), on top of which sits a sauce usually made from chickpea flour and spices.
Since then, I’ve indulged in an ayurvedic massage, I’ve attended three more yoga classes, I’ve waded through water in the street that reached my knees (catching the tail-end of the rainy season) and I’ve (somewhat successfully) cooked in our flat.
I now feel comfortable in ordering a vegan meal, a relatively easy task since many abstain from consuming animal flesh and products on Wednesday and Friday (fasting days). Classes began on Monday, so we’ve had five sessions on the theories of peace and security. As I write this, our access to the internet is limited as a governmental response to recent protests.
This can serve as a brief snapshot of my life in its current form. It’s new, exciting, sometimes frustrating, but always taken in stride with humor and a sense of camaraderie, that we’re all in this together.