I'll have my cake and eat it too

Trip Start Sep 18, 2005
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Thursday, September 29, 2005

So it is 10:30 pm in Addis Abeba Ethiopia, in Kebele 13 off the street Debrezeit- I think that's how you spell it, and I'm sitting in our dimmed living room trying to capture a word which expresses the last 9 days. And the best word I think would be- exhausting.

After arriving in Ethiopia at 3am on September 20th. I was at the office by 1pm. To be greeted by an eager and enthusiastic Katie, who was so ready for me to arrive and for us to jump right into our project. And I was surprisingly ready. After working through the weekend at the miniconference we had I was happy, and relieved to have monday and tuesday off. But like most holidays, I just didn't get the rest I needed to recoup.

This past Tuesday was Meskel, and because of the chaos and work of the last week and weekend, Katie and I as well as getting Monday afternoon and Tuesday off, also asked for Monday morning. So it was nice to have a mini-weekend, in the middle of the week.

Meskel (I know I've spelt it wrong) is a large holiday in the Ethiopian calendar, celebrated on the 17 of the first month of the ethiopian new year. People gather in Meskel Square and burn a large cross out of Eukalyptus branches and then use the ashes to cross their foreheads. That was a completely ignorant way of describing it, but that's all I have on it now. Fortunately (though at the time we thought it was fortunate) we missed the actual ceremony and arrived at Meskel as everyone was leaving. It turned out that there were some people throwing rocks, it just wasn't a good scene.

Anyways, we hung out the nite before a Khatija's and it was too late to go home, so we spent the night at her place watching "sex and the city" and being up until 2am. It was actually really great to leave the stress of the last week behind, as I hadn't noticed how much tension I had been walking around with.

We then woke up in the morning and headed to Meskel square- after watching one episode of Sex in the city of course! We went to Kaldy's for breakfast, which is an café on Bole Rd. which looks eerily like starbucks at home. Apparently a man wanted to open a starbucks in Addis but was denied the franchise option. Leaving meskel square, I met this boy who first began by talking to Khatija and Katie. Soon we were talking and I could tell Khatija and Katie felt the need to be cautious. I didn't. He seemed like a harmless guy, who just was lonely and wanted some company. His intentions seemed very friendly, and nothing more. We walked along the street away from Meskel and we all started talking about the celebration. It turned out that he was very against what Ethiopians did during this celebration. He said people spent and ate and celebrated as if there were no tomorrow to worry about. Some families went hungry the next day because they failed to plan. And then in his very sophisticated tone he said, hopefully though, the next generations of Ethiopians would learn to look to the future. It was so interesting to see that as his story evolved, his concerns with this world were so similar to my own. As we walked it unraveled that his parents had died and left him and his brother and sister to fend for themselves. His brother was now in Boston, making his first home the clubs and bars in the city and not amounting to much, his sister lived around Boston, worked and took a few random courses. It was sad to hear the frustration in his voice about all this, and how he himself had never been to America. And the most touching thing he told me was how, during the day he was surrounded by friends, and everything was fine, but how at night he went home, and he was just one.

There is a story to these people. And I don't know what the point in me coming here is just yet, but I know the impressions these people have on me are sticking to me like mud on the bottom of your shoe, on a rainy day.
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dumbledore
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Meskel
Meskel is 'The Feast of the Exaltation of the True Cross' commemorating the finding of the true cross by the mother of Emperor Constantine in 326. I do love Wikipedia!

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