Our morning started with dairy deprivation leg cramps and bad dreams. I don’t remember what it was about completely, but it had to do with work somehow. If I remember, I will add it.
There was also a live lawnmower in the playground when we went outside. The ox used to plow the centre’s garden was grazing by the swing set. I’m not sure who, but someone went to give it a pet, and the business end of the horns quickly came out. Needless to say, there was not attempt made to ride it.
We were due to go to the market in Gindo this morning and see all the locals bring their wares and animals to sell, however it has been cancelled. The Oromio region we are in has a quiet rage under the surface quietly simmering. The locals are under strict control by the government and are currently being controlled with the distribution of sugar and oil, and they aren’t happy about it. There are lineups at the government offices every day to get doled out their portions/rations of these items, and apparently things are getting out of hand at times.
The other factor is a lot of Chinese developers are coming here and subsequently, people are having their homes appropriated by the government so the land can be sold to foreign investors. Once their land is appropriated (with no choice to them) they are forced to move, often at quite a distance from their jobs. The locals are mixed in their thoughts of the developments, as they like the result of the new roads being built etc, but at what cost to their lives and convenience etc. We have since found out via the Canadian Embassy who emailed us warning us of this uprising (that we received after the fact due to WiFi restrictions) that 8 people were killed at this uprising a mere 45 kilometres from where we are staying. I am not sure if they were locals or foreigners, but either way, we are again grateful to our drivers and bodyguards for their wise council as to our safety.
The best we could do was participate in the human zoo we are in was to watch the locals parade by with their oxen and donkeys etc on their way to the market past where we are staying and be kept separated by the 6 foot barbed wire fence. As much as we were interested in watching what was going by, once word spread of our presence, we became the zoo animals. Most people around here have no TV and have never seen a white skinned person, so were drew quite a bit of attention. The dangers of such were not lost on us, and so we retreated to the buildings shortly so as to not be a target of their rage. Perhaps they might have thought we were foreign investors too, and thus be mad at us. Either way, we were safe and have since left there at the time of this writing.
Our beloved Henchman came to show us a few things, as I mentioned before. We (the women in our group) have since started to carry sticks with us for the purposes of whipping people as required. Seriously. No whipping has occurred yet, but just having the sticks has immediately elevated our position in the group without saying a word. They are small for the most part, but the message is clear. Nail polish gate Part two We went out and decided that we were going to assist in the teaching of life skills when it comes to being patient and waiting your turn. We (Me, Alynne and Kari) lined up our chairs with our backs to the walls, a table in front of us, and sticks at the ready. Immediately word spread of the polishing and very quickly they were back. Kari was getting swamped again and she looked like she was about to cry, so I quick to support her with my Kramer finger wave back and forth (as to say veddy veddy bad man) and they slowed in their rush to her polish bottle. It didn’t slow for long and soon Alynne was being hounded by girls who had had their nails painted yesterday that wanted them done again. They had even gone so far as to pick off polish so it could be repainted. We explained that everyone got their nails painted once, and no fixes etc would be done until ALL the girl had been done. We explained the need to wait and take your turn patiently, but soon things required further action. Alynne started to shriek at them that if thy didn’t like it, they could GET OUT!!! As she pointed to the door. Her eyes were bugging out and she was about to snap. Sensing she needed some reinforcement, I picked up my stick and slapped it on the table whilst standing up, shoving my chair back and shrieked at them quite loudly. The offending girls scattered as they knew a good ear pulling was next. Ahhhhh…..Thanks Henchman! Those remaining sat quietly and things progressed nicely after that.
All the while this was going on, Matt and Lee were toiling the whole time cleaning teeth, doing fillings, and dental extractions. Shortly afterwards, the medical exams and treatments with glasses, pills, potions and creams were dispensed to the sick. Sammy then came and found me and asked if I wanted to go for a ride in the contraption that was being pulled by a mule for a ride around the village. Why of course I was! One of the body guards came with me and away we trotted. The locals seeing the driver with us started to make remarks to him I couldn’t understand but you could tell he wasn’t super excited about tit, so it was a short ride. Kari came next and she had a quick ride but was back in short order. She is uber blonde, so she was even drawing more attention than I. The decision to leave today instead of staying one more night and leaving in the morning was made, and so our program shortened a bit.
We had lunch (presumably hyena meat from the hunt the night before….or was it goat or sheep…we will never know – remember the stores sell “normal meat” that is otherwise not labelled…) and did more games etc with the kids. We played with the parachute, they worked on their Christmas crafts for their sponsors, Dick taught them some hand games of strength and agility, poking and pulling (easier shown than described), there was a one legged pillow fight and the kids put on a show for us with dancing, Taekwondo demonstrations, and a few circus performances (this is what they call gymnastics here). We were then the object of their fun, as we did our best to dance their way with much shoulder participation and with everyone often looking like strutting chickens. Video to come later. It was a lot of fun. It was then time to leave. Alynne decided to empower one of the little girls with the gift of her stick, and immediately it became a toothbrush as it was put into her mouth to clean between her teeth. Weird.
We left Gindo in our travelling zoo convey and started the three and a half hour trek from the sticks back to Addis. Gone was the lovely fresh air and beautiful country scenery, ad we were headed back to the pollution and garbage of the capitol city. On the way, we stopped for a picture at a humongous tree at an Artesian well and sadly Lee and Alynne almost got sucked into a quicksand bog of slimy water, but were able to pull their feet out before their shoes were consumed by the wilds of Africa. It will be a tea tree bath for both their shoes and feet tonight. We have learned there is a silica element to the soil, that if exposed to for long periods of time, can produce an effect in your body similar to elephantitis. As none of us are wanting that, baths and laundry for all will be had upon our return to Addis.
On the drive back, there was much horn honking at us on the roads, as well as a larger military presence that wasn’t there when we came down. (Remember we are still unaware as to the extent of the uprising…). We had to go through a checkpoint where everyone’s vehicle was getting inspected. We weren’t sure what they were looking for at the time, but it could be surmised now that it was for some of the offending rebels. We were greeted by our orange and white guard cat in the guard tower when we arrived at the house. Our stuff was unpacked, ad then we made the executive decision to travel across the city to the Sheraton to get good WiFi and check in with our peeps. It was then we saw on the news and in our emails about the uprisings and deaths near where we were.
Here is an excerpt from the email….
You are receiving this email because you are registered with the Government of Canada’s Registration of Canadians Abroad service. Please share the following important information with other Canadian nationals in your area. Please note that the Embassy of Canada has received reports of ongoing demonstrations across towns in the Oromia region, including cities near Addis. Transportation has been disrupted and vehicles going to these areas have been attacked by rioters.
Canadians should be cautious about all road travels across Oromia and remain vigilant at all times, avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media. Due to recent tensions at the border between the Oromia and Somali regions, we recommend that Canadians located in these areas get in touch with their family members and emergency contacts in Canada to confirm their wellbeing and whereabouts, even if they have not been affected by this event.
If you have already left and are no longer in Ethiopia please send an email to our Registration of Canadians Abroad email address at email@example.com in order to end your registration in our system.
Either way, we are back from there. We also learned that there is such a thing as a seven star hotel. I thought five was the max, but apparently not. This was a seven star resort, complete with a to-scale model of the resort and all it had to offer. After going through the metal detectors, we came through and really wished it was where we were staying!! Some rooms were $14,000USD per night! On our way to the restaurant, we saw the big poster for Wiz Kid. Apparently he is a big deal in the music industry and Matt was quite bummed that he couldn’t go see him. The promoters were there and they were telling us where to go to see him, but we didn’t have time to wait for the concert. 🙁
On the drive back Kari and I were dreaming of salad and our bellies were telling us that the hyena meat lunch hadn’t been enough to satisfy us, so we shared a lifesaving Kirkland snack bag and thought of all the things we wanted to eat when we were back in Canada. After a delicious 7 star supper, we headed back home across town for showers and bed. In the process of cleaning up, I tried to use my roller dryer and fried it on the 220V socket. Interesting hair is in my future! Good thing it isn’t me having to look at it!
Good night all….on to type the next day’s blog!