Bonnie’s Life in Ethiopia: Captured in Photograph Hello friends and family! I have created a little slideshow full of pictures from Ethiopia and explanations of what/who/where they are. Don’t expect anything too jazzy; I’m in an African state of mind now. I hope you enjoy. With Love, Bonnie
Our first night in Washington, D.C. out having our last meal of pizza. It was Two-for-Tuesdays so we did a lot of sharing.
In the airport in D.C. waiting to depart. We arrived to the gate about 5 hours before our departure time. Clearly, I did not do the planning otherwise it would have been more like 5 minutes
The view of Italy from the plane. We stopped here to refuel but never left the plane.
Inside Bole Airport in Addis Ababa. We had so much luggage it was slightly chaotic.
In the parking lot of Bole Airport, loading up the truck with our bags. Moments later the power went out.
The view from my hotel room in Addis: kids playing in a construction yard.
Our first night out in Addis to see traditional Ethiopian dancing.
Arrival in Ambo, our training site for the next ten weeks. Jordan and Kyle made friends. Homeboy seems to think he won a very large prize.
Our training staff showing us some dances. The man in the striped shirt is my first language teacher, Abraham. The woman in the middle is my second one, Milky. They are both awesome.
Our first coffee ceremony. It’s a long process, I’ll explain later.
ME! This is at Ambo Ethiopia Hotel, where we went a lot in the beginning because of the serene environment. Then we realized that we were only getting paid 16 birr /day ($1.60) and beers cost 10 birr. After that we just went and loitered.
Where I bathed/washed clothes Chamber pot for peeing in the middle of the night. For brushing teeth/washing hands.
Hand-washing clothes for the very first time. I got thrown so many “gobez”es.
Me at coffee ceremony. The scarf is a traditional Ethiopian “natella” that the women, and sometimes men, wear for church and holidays…or just because.
My sisters Hana (21) and Meba (12) and my brother Bilen (17).
My sister, Beletech (12), roasting the coffee beans for coffee ceremony.
After grinding the roasted beans, she puts them in a “jebena” kettle with water over the charcoal. Once it is ready, they put incense over the coals. I hate that part, it’s too strong.
Then there is coffee! In a teeny tiny cup. They usually do three rounds of coffee. And for most Ethiopians, this cup is 1/3 filled with sugar.
Tea/coffee break outside the technical college where we had training every day.
We passed the time by playing games a lot. In one game of Scrabble, I actually got these as my letters.
Our favorite hang out/escape Ethiopia spot: the swimming pool. We get called “China” all the time so we thought it was funny that there were actually Chinese people there.(Left to right: Jon Losey, Brad, and Tina)
Sometimes we have to share the road with herds of cattle on their way to Addis. This was taken inside a bajaj, the three-wheeled motor taxi.
Then I fed a monkey (by accident). I believe my dear cousin Catherine relayed this story to the family. Who knew monkeys like bananas?
Then I gave Kyle a haircut. He has finally forgiven me.
The aftermath of the Ball Drop. We lost some water bottles…and later the soccer ball inside.
Me and my girls: Jill, Marina, and Jason who jumped in. He left PC about two weeks before Swearing-In and we miss him.
Preparing for Ethiopian Christmas with my siblings. We even got a tree! Nanny, can you find the snow globe ornament you gave me??
Me and my bestie, Jill! Peace Corps made the wonderful decision to room us together in D.C. and Addis and love was born.
Me and Travis. He has also gone home, against his will, because his asthma was really bad here. I miss him terribly but he sends me updates on the Red Sox!
Just before Ethiopian Christmas, our Training Staff asked for us to give a presentation on Christmas in America. I was an “Ambassador of Christmas” (self-titled).
Ethiopian Christmas! (January 7th)After a couple months of fasting, Orthodox Ethiopians can finally eat meat again. We had dorowat (spicy chicken dish) at 8am.
In Ethiopian culture, everyone eats off one platter and to show love, they feed each other. It’s called “gorsha” and this was my first time being gorsha-ed. That’s my mom doing it and my aunt and uncle.
On Christmas, or Genna, neighbors all visit each other for coffee ceremony and eating. Left picture: my mom on the right and our neighbor in traditional clothes. Right picture: me with our neighbors Johannes, or Baby, and Solomi. I loved them.
The ceremonial bread: baked by the women but cut by the men. Ugh.
Then they eat raw meat. No joke, they eat it just like that, dipped in butter and chased with ouzo. Sennaye and Bilen enjoying the raw meat.
Site Placement Day! Me finally finding out where I will be living for the next two years! (Dilla)
Left: all the volunteers throughout Ethiopia. Right: the volunteers in my region (Brad is also a little to the left). Since then, both Travis and Jason (top two faces)have left
We were so happy. When I see this picture, I imagine an American’s Next Top Model –like fadeout of our lost comrades. Chelsea, you know what I’m talking about.
We got to spend some time in Addis before visiting our sites. We spent the day shopping and it got kind of hot so we found the only bit of shade. We’re hilarious.
My new home in Dilla! Yeah those are mango trees. Jealous?I rent two rooms in the house. That part that sticks out is my bedroom where I am now preparing this photo presentation.
My Counterpart, Girma, and the girl that works in my office, Beti, took me to the Rift Valley waterfall. There is also a swimming pool and natural hot springs.
I was visiting Dilla for the Ethiopian Orthodox holiday, Temkat (Epiphany). Basically everyone meets at the Church and the Covenant (held under the elaborate umbrellas) is carried to the Stadium where it is left for one week and people continue to visit it there and pray.
My friends, Kasech and Beti, came to watch it with me. They didn’t know who Aretha Franklin is!
On our way back to training in Ambo, all the volunteers in my region met in Hawassa. We went to Rich’s house where he had four puppies! That’s the boy that lives on his compound; we call him Snoop because he looks like a little version of Snoop Dog (he’s a rapper, Nanny).
Ethiopians aren’t really known for their love of animals and Snoop here is an indication of typical animal care. The white puppy was my favorite; we called her White Fang. She got sold though
Back in Ambo with my Host Family for the last three weeks of training. These are my parents, Wondimteka and Debritu. My dad is blind and always wears these sunglasses. Doesn’t he look like Ray Charles?!
My mom and sister, Hana (who went to culinary school in Addis) prepared a special lunch for my friend Lindsay and her Host Mother, who is my mom’s best friend.
On the last Sunday before we left Ambo, we had a Host Family Appreciation Ceremony. I was selected by our teachers to give a speech in Amharic (video included) so my family insisted on making me wear traditional clothes. I am slightly more curvy than my 90 lb. sister, whose dress I borrowed.
Left: All the trainees with their families. Right: Our Training Director, Girma, and the new Country Director, Nwondu. We love Girma so much.
Some of the host families got up to speak about the trainees that lived with them. Rebecca and her dad. Jon and his mom.
My speech. I was really nervous and Amharic is very difficult, so give me a break. (Click to start) Translation: To our beloved mothers, father, sisters, and brothers: Good Morning. On behalf of all the Peace Corps Trainees, even those that are no longer with us, I would like to thank you for welcoming us into your homes. In these past few months, we have felt more than just guests staying in your homes; we have felt a part of your families. You have helped us to adapt, learn about your beautiful culture and your languages. Now, our American families would not recognize us because we have gotten fat (joke). We will miss you very much when we leave for our new homes, but we will leave full of wonderful memories. Although we must leave Ambo in three days, we hope to remain a part of your families. Again, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your love will be our travel pack (old Ethiopian saying). Thank you for your attention.
Me and my parents outside the training center.
The whole family (except Bruk) It’s really difficult to get 8 family members together for a picture.
With Meba and Hana. With Meba – she is always laughing; I adore her.
A tour of my home in Ambo. I couldn’t figure out how to rotate it so you’ll have to watch sideways. Sorry!(Click to start)
Swearing-In Ceremony!!(At the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa)
These are Kyle’s pictures, since alas, my camera was stolen the night before in Addis Sorry Chelsea! He doesn’t have a computer so he uploaded his pictures to my computer, and now I am stealing them. Left: John, Jordan, and Kyle loving each other. Right: Kyle and me (totally genuine smile)
Our audience. We knew roughly 10 of the people there, and those were from our training staff.
38 new Peace Corps Volunteers! The tiny little Asian man in the middle is U.S. Ambassador Donald Yamamoto.Some people wore traditional Ethiopian clothes that their host families gave them as going away presents. The one I wore for Host Family Ceremony was just a loan, so I wore a Western dress.
Just to show you how awkwardly tiny the Ambassador is. Kyle is about 6 foot, I think…and slouching.
Gail organized a Valentine’s Day party for our last night in Addis (February 13th) since everyone had to leave for their sites first thing in the morning. I suggested doing the “Compliments Box” like in grade school when you have to write something nice about every other person. It was a hit and now everyone has 37 nice things written about them to look to when they are feeling down. Some of my favorite compliments were “you’re really a male”, “sassy girl”, and “you would make a wonderful dictator”.Hehe, what an impression I have made.
Then we went out dancing!!!(Jill, me, and Melissa)
After a few weeks at site, I went to Kyle’s town, AletaWondo, to help with this clothing and shoe distribution to a group of children from the rural area.
Each child got 2 articles of clothing. I helped do the fitting.
The kids decided to show us their ABCs in English. Prepare to be overcome with the cuteness. My personal favorite letter they said is ‘Q’ or “ku-wuh”.
Ok, that’s all for now! I’ll be working on a second slideshow to send you in a few months. I hope you enjoyed this and have a better idea of my life here in Ethiopia.I love and miss you all!Bonnie