the threshing floor

One of the highlights of living here is experiencing life as it was a thousand or more years ago.  In the countryside, life goes on without the interruption of modern technology or civilization.  The only reminder that a different world exists are the few paved roads and a few sections of wire running across a field on its way to the next town, possibly hundreds of miles away.  A few months ago, while I traveled through the countryside, I passed countless farmers threshing their crops – just like they did in Biblical times. We pulled the vehicle over and got out to talk to a few of the farmers we saw – asking about their crop that year and to explain the process of what they were doing.  These are a compilation of farmers all with different crops.  The last image captures the life-blood of this country: teff.

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Maggie

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Notebooks for Manure

Every year my friend Suzanne holds a program called “Notebooks for Manure” where kids can bring bags full of manure that they have collected to get weighed in by buckets and traded for tokens to buy school supplies.  Suzanne sets up a “store” in her compound that has lots of notebooks, pencils, erasers, pens, rulers, compasses, and paints.  For each bucket full of manure the kids bring they get one token for the store.  Some children had two or three, some had 20 or 27.   She starts the program around 8am but the kids start lining up outside her door around 6am.  For the kids who can go to a local school but can’t afford to buy any school supplies, this is a big deal.  The program teaches them work ethic as well.  It is an accessible way for them to “buy” school supplies.  There are cows, goats, sheep, and chicken every- equaling large available amounts of manure.  The kids have a good time, get needed supplies, and feel pride in their work.  I thoroughly enjoyed participating this year!

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28 Candles

A Day In The Life: my 28th birthday

bday03Man, I am getting old – do you see all those greys?

bday08Our friend Wendy took us out for French toast at a local hotel.  We have to make and bring our own syrup…

bday09       I thought it would be fun to show you what our “kind-of-grocery store” looks like… and here is our ride – the decorated bajaj.

bday25My besties Marissa and Jordan made this pinata for me and mailed it to Africa. Not only did it have candy in it but notes from a bunch of my friends.  Yup, those are granola bars…I guess I am a grownup when those are what’s in my pinata.

bday13Homemade felafel and pita for my Mediterranean dinner.

bday20Just a little dancing, food, and cake.  We also showed “Wreck It Ralph” on the side of the house and invited a lot of people to come celebrate with us, but I didn’t get any photos.  It was a wonderful day!

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Walkin and Swingin

I have participated in a lot of cultural celebrations while I have been here, but this last one was really unique.  Groups of people from all around and outside of the city formed processions and marched into the center of town.  I can’t give specifics, and I am sorry because it is real interesting (so you need to ask me about it when I get back home…) But I can tell you there was a lot of singing, red carpet rolling, drumming, and dancing.  I am pretty sure that I walked 5 miles with my group in the midday African sun…it was exhausting but very beautiful.

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the meantime

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It is funny how I just realized that I spent all of 2012 living abroad.  New Years day came and went, and I don’t think I even thought about this fact.  But it is true – all of 2012 and then some.  But I am slowly making my way back home.  4.5 more months to go.  That seems crazy to me.  I have no idea what I will really go back to or what is going to happen with my life,  but that doesn’t curb my enthusiasm for the possibilities.  I have dreams about getting off the airplane and seeing all my friends and family.  (I also have dreams about eating bbq pork…) I think I am ready for a change.  But I know that I need to live here, really be here for the next 4 months.  I have a lot to give to this place and it still has a lot to teach me. So, here’s to the meantime

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a second holiday

The National Christmas is not until the 7th of January in the country so the holidays just stretched on for me.  They have adopted some western holiday practices like the Christmas tree and lights, but most people don’t decorate. The main tradition here is to get together with friends and family and eat a bunch of food. They have been on a vegan fast for 4 weeks, so there is a lot of meat being served.  Everyone buys chicken, sheep, goats and cows at the market a few days before hand and then you can hear them bleat and cry all over the city.  I was invited over to two houses for the day.  I ate a lot of spicy chicken wat, boiled eggs, and injera.  I was also given a lot of coffee.  Both houses performed coffee ceremonies where you are given the traditional three rounds of the drink.  Popcorn and a special type of bread was served at the houses as well.  Needless to say, I was very full and very caffeinated that day.

 

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Christmas Time Again

I spent my second Christmas overseas – and you know what? – it wasn’t that bad.  The first year was pretty depressing, but this year I really tried to create the things I missed.  They do not really have any Christmas traditions here – except eating a lot of food.  So we found a Christmas tree, bought and made presents, decorated cookies, watched a lot of Christmas movies, and went caroling.  We felt like a family this year.  It was good for my heart.

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giving thanks again

Roasted chicken, homegrown yams, pickled beets. Everyone put their best foot forward this year.  I was stuffed to the brim.

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just a few more

I still have some photos from my trip in late summer that I haven’t shared…so I thought I would just post them together.  The first set are from the pyramids in Cairo.  I think it was “neat” to be there and see something that is so important in history but, for some reason, the actually experience of visiting the area wasn’t really that awesome.  I am sure the culture is lovely there, but I bet going to see the most tourist-y thing there wasn’t the best example of what Cairo has to offer.  So I am not judging the place as a whole.  (I do have to say, the felafel I had was pretty wonderful.)  The second set of images are from the city center of Amman, Jordan.  Amman was absolutely lovely.  The people were friendly, the city was for the most part accessible, clean, and full of things to do.  I enjoyed walking around in the evening when it was cool and everyone was out socializing and eating.  I have never had so much good food, for so little money, in one place in my life.

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