Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Electricity and Water

At the University: We have had problems with no electric power twice on Fridays. Last Friday the power went off and on three times which was difficult as I was trying to use the computer. I just found out the main library has a generator for about six months donated by an NGO. We really need something like that at the Institute as the interior rooms of our building get too dark to use the library or visit the museum.
I tried to start reference work at the Foreign Language Library . I found people are not accustomed to reference and a few that did ask questions spoke in Amharic. So I will continue and try and also recommend some basic reference sources for my colleagues.
Someone that I knew from the Embassy was just here and they donated some materials for the library and museum. I ran into this person as he was leaving and he asked if it was at all possible for him to use the bathroom. I told him not to expect much (no running water) and found the key (things like that are just for staff usually and are locked). I told him it would be good for him to see what the conditions were like since he is a newcomer to Eth. At another time, I will have to discuss with him the lack of water, lack of flushing, lack of soap and toilet paper-of course, and see if he can suggest solutions.
Different foreigners handle the lack of bathrooms or the horrible bathrooms in different ways. It is interesting to see how everyone copes with this problem found throughout this country.

Other: The past couple of weeks, water pressure at home has been weak or there has been no water at times. I did go out about 2 weeks ago and purchased two 20 liter jerry cans for washing and cleaning. I think it will get worse in the coming months as that has been my experience before. I was told that due to the high volume of construction, poor reservoirs and other things, water is meagre at times.
Yesterday was a holiday-Id Aladaha. This was to commemorate the time when Moses was told to sacrifice Isaac and the saved, I am told. Lots of people were up and about in town. The Muslims were in new clothes and went to an outdoor arena, Meskel Square, to pray early morning. Lots of good cooking aromas from my apt. building! Some long known friends from AAU invited me for lunch which was pleasant. Then visited some Ethiopian friends in early evening.
Hope to attend a holiday tea at a friend's house this week. "European Christmas" is around the corner and the Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas in January 7.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Meetings and Merriment

Marie Paiva, Institute of Ethiopian Studies Library, Addis Ababa University, P.O. Box 1176, Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA.
Mobile: 251-11-913-1744-55
At the University: meetings continue with the Institute's planning and organizing of future activities. There are plans for a new building and hopefully there will be a groundbreaking ceremony when I am still here. The library acquisitions committee work continues. We met the regional manager for Africa from Blackwells Publisher-a vendor- and hope to set up a Horn of Africa profile with him so that library materials will automatically be identified for us for possible purchase. We also met with some distinguished scholars and donors from abroad and were busy preparing the Museum and Library with special displays and meetings. While awaiting the group, I happened to look out the window for them on the second floo where the library guards were hanging around. It looked like someone had thrown up on a windowsill-some disgusting looking mess. When I looked closely, I found it was almost a whole ingera (Ethiopian spongy bread) covered with some remnants of greay wot (stew).When I asked why it was so prominently displayed, the guards said it was for the doves (pigeons). I told them that sight was not impressive and to immediately clear it off before the speical guests saw it. It was cleared off-probably someone shoved it off to the first floor windowsill...The guests seemed happy to be visiting us and a few of them asked questions about my work as well as about life in Ethiopia.
Last week was a lecture about possible Ethiopian images in western art and just got the text of that speech. It was an interesting topic.

Other:I received a phone call about a town meeting at the U.S. Embassy for its citizens living in this area. The group was 90% Ethio-Americans. There were addresses by the security officer, the political officer, a nurse and then Ambassador Yamamoto also gave a brief speech. They had some little snacks but the whole event was held outside and we were freezing. After 6pm temperatures drop sharply from the 60-70s range to 40s or below. Some of the info was useful, some familiar and I saw some familiar faces from the wildlife group and a couple of new people as well.
Attended a holiday concert and tea held at an area church. It was good and enjoyed that as much as another holiday choral group (Motley Singers) singing Christmas music.
Now I just noticed a few days ago some greenery and Christmas trees in local supermarkets and restaurants.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Theft and Assela

At the University: More meetings with good outcomes (hopefully), and plans for purchasing more books and discussion of library security.
In this country, theft is common in libraries and the main library even recently reported a whole set of encyclopedias being stolen in the evening hours. To complicate things, the main library is now open about 22 hours a day (actually 24, but they close for 2 hours for cleaning) and I wonder if things will continue disappearing but at a faster rate. I heard you can go to the big mercato and find used books and stolen library books for sale. I would like to see that for myself some time. I keep hoping to start a small reference service a couple of times a week with another librarian. Perhaps this coming Friday we can do that. The Internet continues up and down each day. Many other projects are moving along.

Other:Adentures in Assela
A group of 25 headed out to Assela via a stop at Nazaret to enjoy juice and coffee last Saturday. The bus passed through much acacia studded land with camels nibbling on the sparse vegetation. Our first stop was to check out a clothes outlet which was lackluster. The next stop was to look at some mining excavation for pumice. Many were fortunate to view a hyena hiding out in the nearby bush. Later, we had a picnic lunch close to a pond and watched cattle that were brought in to be watered. It was very scenic with large pastures and fields with boys and men tending the oxen, goats, donkeys and horses. We arrived in Assela, home of runner Haile Gebreselassie, around 2pm and looked for our hotel. This trip was without our usual leader, so we were a bit on our own. She had provided some info for us but the hotel simply could not be found. Plus, there was a meeting that weekend and we were told all the hotels were booked up. A small group went scouting for rooms and came back an hour later to successfully report they had found a few hotels for us. Some of us stayed in the Olympic Hotel, on the second and third floors. The door handle and lock plate fell off when I attempted to close the door. The hotel had small rooms with screeching music coming from area shops. Assela has just built a road going through town there was much construction still going on. Garis, trucks, animals and people zoomed along the road. A group of us met up at Hotel Daaratu, for drinks and dinner. We feasted on vegetable soup, roasted veal, zil zil tibs, fish goulash and other menu items. We then decided to find a tej bet and were unsuccessful so we settled for beer at a nearby bar. It featured deafening western music, a strobe light, Britney Spears on screen and a few prostitutes milling around.
The next day, after a full breakfast at Hotel Daaratu (which was built by the famous female 1990s runner Daaratu ) we headed by bus to Mt. Chilalo accompanied by a local guide. We split up into groups and hiked for 4-5 hours trying to reach as close as possible to the top (13,000 feet?). It was a bright sunny day with beautiful views all around us. The wind picked up in the afternoon and became chillier. Our group sampled large string beans and encountered fields of oats, wheat, and legumes. Locals offered to carry our backpacks and bags which was helpful as we walked uphill. Thanks to mobile phones, we were able to check with other group members to ascertain their whereabouts. Children, dogs and goats often came to greet and meet us on the path. There were many tukuls, children tending cattle, fields of grain being ruffled by the wind, clumps of eucalyptus trees, woodsmen chopping down trees, women tending the fields, and people working and walking on the mountain. We came across an elderly couple sitting on the cow path. The man claimed he was 130 years of age and his wife was 90 (but did not offer birth certificates). They agreed to photos in exchange of a few birr. On the way down we saw some beautiful black and white colobus monkeys, wildflowers and a few birds. We made a quick tea/beer stop in Mojo on the way back to Addis.

Monday, November 26, 2007

"Students Shouting Like Monkeys"

At the University:Finished touring the main library and visited the Computer Systems Dept. and the Binding Dept. Making contacts with out of print dealers for our library acqusitions. Visited the Office of Sustainable Development and chatted with the director. She gave us some brochures for our library collection and promised a price list for their other publications. Met with the Head of the Foreign Languages section who also showed me around the Manuscripts reading room. I hope to work with him at the Reference Desk there in the near future.
A few days ago some students were walking by our building which also houses the office of the President and other university administrators. There are university police posted at each entrance, including for our building. These students were very excited and talking at the top of their voices. I saw the police telling them to buzz off as they were disturbing the place. Then I heard one of the institute staff describing the event as "students shouting like monkeys" and agreed they had to be shooed off! The students quickly hurried out of the way.

Other: Attended a wildlife talk by Prof. Shoshani from the Biology Dept. He spoke of the disappearing elephants of Ethiopia and Eritrea as there are poachers hunting these animals. A newly created Kafta Shiraro Park will help with wildlife conservation and perhaps educating the public about elephants.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Indians and Red Indians

Today is the fifth day of the third month of the year 2000, according to the Ethiopian Calendar. Warm days 70F and cold nights upper 30s F.--------
At the University: The first week I was here two people asked me if I was a Red Indian. I explained that term was no longer in use and Native American was the proper term of today. And then I explain I am Asian-American, etc. One of these people wanted me to find photographs of Native Americans and I referred him to some websites. Many people I casually meet-on the minibus or in shops- ask me if I am Indian and I say yes as that is the easiest answer!

My colleague tells me that the Univ has been hiring professors from India for about 7-8 years to fill in where they do not have local experts. I take it that many Ethiopians are dismayed to see these people getting USD$1500 a month when the local people get less. I see Indians around my apt. building and on campus but they are very serious looking and go about their business. When I take the mini-bus to work, I see a few professors each week as well. One architecture professor and I exchanged phone numbers but she teaches on a different campus from the one where I am. Another one also talked to me-he is from the Informatics Dept. and came to visit my office last week.

I had an excellent appt. at the Embassy last week to discuss higher education resource needs in Ethiopia. There will be follow-up later & I look forward to working with them.

The local book vendor had not responded to our library's questions for about 6 months. I volunteered to contact them. They said they were not aware of a book list that was given to them in May. Anyway, things seem to be settled as the book vendor and his director came to visit me to smoothen things out.

Other: The US embassy held a concert with Addis Ababa's Millenium Committee in the Municipality Theater. I was invited and so were some of my colleagues from the Institute. It was crowded and filled with mostly Ethiopians. First we had some nice hors d'ouvres and soft drinks and I found some people from the Wildlife group. The group Chicago Trio played a series of light jazz and American folk tunes. Later, a group from the Yared Music School played serious Ethiopian songs on their string instruments. The Americans finished up with a few pieces accompanied by a sopranist.

Some friends and I decided to hear the popular Ethiopian singer, Teddy Afro (stage name), last Saturday even at the state owned Ghion Hotel and there were no chairs for the audience. We had to wait 2 1/2 hours to hear him sing and so we bought expensive drinks and food from the hotel. Teddy first started with new tunes which I did not know but later sang a new year song and then his favorites. It was excellent (he writes his own songs), but the cold was intense. My feet froze as it was in the upper 30s by the time we left at 1:30AM! I was surprised by the coldness as I had a long winter coat. Some of the women in the audience were wearing sleeveless tops, skirts, or dresses. But, I do not think they came jus to hear the music. We spent over 6 hours at this open air venue.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cards and Monkeys

At the University: Address here: Marie Paiva, Volunteer Librarian, IES Library, Addis Ababa University, P.O. Box 1176, Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA.
Visiting the main library to see one of the Cataloging Dept for a tour. They use the LC sytem and an open source program, Koha, to get titles into their online catalog. They also maintain a card catalog but in some years hope to discontinue that. We are looking for some out of print and other materials here at the IES Library. Heard back from the local rep. and hope that it works out soon. I had a nice meeting with the head of the Library and got some good feedback. Our database review on Friday mornings continue, but last week the Internet was not that great. Made some more appointments for the main library for this coming week. All in all, lots to discover and learn about the Univ. system and work keeps moving along.

Other: A friend from the UK invited a couple of us to attend an art exhibition at a gallery some distance away. All in all, very nice and I got to see some interesting art work from a local artist and meet some new people. On Saturday, the wildlifers climbed Mt. Menangesha at about 2,900 meters. I chose the easier path which was steep! An Ethiopian woman who knew something about plants hiked with me. There were lots of wildflowers including delphinium and many ferns. It was cool and windy on this hike. We all met up on the top of the mountain and had our lunches and rested. Then, we went down and this time saw several black and white colubus monkeys with their sweeping tails leaping from tree to tree. We also saw a few vervet monkeys hanging out at the cemetery looking mischievous. A few bird sightings as well. On the way home, we stopped at a flower farm and walked around a bit to admire the carnation, geranium, agapanthus, day lillies, and more.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Ahead at full speed

At the University: Last Friday was an interesting day. When I approached my building to unlock the door at 7:50am, I saw a note posted in Amharic pasted on the edge of the doors and forming a seal. I spoke to the Univ police and they said they would send someone else to look at it. That took about an hour. Evidently, they found the door opened during the night and wanted to make sure the interior of the offices was okay. My office was fine and hopefully all other offices were as well.

Then I finally got to start the Database Review with 3 librarians. I had asked if I could do this the first two weeks and nothing was said. The University receives probably 50 databases through donation or arrangment with NGOs. I observed that most of the staff here were unaware of these resources which might be extremely helpful in their work. So the 4 of us met in my office for about 1.5 hours to check on the databases and we searched under the keywords of Ethiopia and Horn of Africa and tried boolean operators, truncation, and nesting. Each resource has to be opened with the User ID and password in order to deter non-educational use as was recommended by the vendors. It was fun and I learned some things and hope they did as well.

Also, the US Embassy called twice. There are new staff there and they want to see what resources the library here has and perhaps what they need. This week I shall be trying to organize a list of online and print sources and perhaps prioritize them. I also briefly spoke with the director of the main Library about getting suggestions for this list. The result is that I have a meeting with the embassy folks in 8 days and can't wait. I would like to invite them here to visit our library, the main library (where I worked 7 years ago) and perhaps the National Library where I worked 10 years ago. One of the problems with online resources is that there seems to be a lack of training for users, from what I have observed. Thus, library patrons continue to use the card catalogs and print indexes.

Other: Visited St. Mary's Church in Arat Kilo as they have a special millenium exhibit. These pieces on display reflect the history of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. I joined in with some Ethiopian friends and of course the tour was in Amharic. A deacon found me listening from a distance and took me on a personal tour in English. There were paintings of saints and religious events, photographs, historical items, church books and musical instruments and much more. It was very colorful and packed with items. It was very nicely done and quite educational. The other group had a lengthy tour and we left with the tour still going on after more than 2.5 hours! Attended the Flower Show to see plants and flowers raised by loal gardeners as well as flower arrangements. I should have entered something!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Debre Birhan

Work: Things are moving along with finding out of print book dealers, finding local dealers, and more. There are several good Horn of Africa disertations available and trying to look into those as well. We are having another mtg. to discuss progress of the grant acqisitions this week. Thanks to all my colleagues in Tucson and SLC that have helped me!

Other: Continuing to enjoy hot water showers! Last weekend, a nice wildlife trip to Debre Birhan, about 3 hours north of here in the Shoa province. The views were all interesting, lots of herders with their cattle, lovely tukuls-local homes with the round thatched roofs, and farmland growing teff-local grain for making the injera bread and much more. About 20 of us signed up for this trip and after locating a hotel, we continued on for about 1.5 hours to Ankober, the ancient capital of Ethiopia. This whole area is cold and windy due to the higher altitudes. We stopped at a scenic viewpoint to take photos of the valley below. There were lots of terraced fields on the mountain slopes and we walked around cattle, donkeys here and there, horses, goats and sheep. Some hiked for another 3 hours in Ankober to see the remains of the palace and some hiked for awhile and then browsed the little suqs for peanuts, fabrics and local shopping bags. We had dinner at our Hotel Eva (owned by famous Ethiopian runner Gettiye)-some of us had lamb tibs (grilled lamb strips) and wine which was very nice. The area and rooms at night were very chilly-probably in the low 40-50s. Early the next morning, we left for Debre Sina. We were on a good road built by the Italians in the 1940s and dotted with bridges and a few tunnels as well. Along the way, we stopped at another outstanding viewpoint and saw gelada baboons and came across wool hats and oregano for sale! We purchased as much as we could and I also purchased a walking stick. A bit later, some of us walked down the road leading to town for about an hour. There, we stopped for more shopping-basketry, oranges, a new fruit that is like a crinkled looking melon (will try that later), small bananas, guava, fava beans, roasted barley called kollo- a local favorite, more oregano, local fabrics and more. We then continued on and found a picnic spot for lunch and stretched our legs. Once again, we arrived in Debre Birhan and visited the Trinity Church. This Ethiopian Orthodox Church is a bit unusual as it has two statues in the compound that were dressed in real clothes (perhaps due to the chilliness?). We took photos and then headed back to Addis Ababa and arrived around 6pm. Another wonderful wildlife trip.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Have hot water -as of Saturday!

Work: The library here consists of the Ethiopian Languages Section, The Foreign Languages section and the Technical Section. Recently, two catalogers were hired to try and take care of an immese backlog of materials found in these reading rooms and in the back rooms piled almost to the ceilings. They started to create an online catalog some years ago and the unedited version is available on two computers in the Foreign Languages Section. But, the computers are usually not turned on and am not sure if the staff know about using it. So, the users rely on the card catalog. Photo copying and sometimes scanning is available. Important lectures or talks or other events are at times held in the Foreign Languages section in the afternoons or evenings. Tables are pushed around and make seating for about 100. This is the venue for the IES lecture series which are generally very good and free to the public. It appears that book theft is a problem here, just like in libraries all over the world. We are trying to think of ways to stop this theft as some of these are rare or out of print materials. This library is only open to Univ people and to those who have membership cards to the IES society. On the second floor of our building is an ethnographic museum. So we are used to seeing many people, especially foreigners, come take a peek at the library which is housed on the first and second floor.

There are plans for a brand new IES Library building adjacent to this building. Not sure when the actual construction will begin but it is definitely needed.

Other: The University Housing Adm. folks came to the apt. 8 times to fix the hot water heater in the bathroom but were not successful and that took over a month. I took the suggestion of a neighbor and hired my own plumber/electrician. In about an hour, things were fixed! I cannot believe I have taken bucket showers for over a month.

My apt. is located on a very busy street on what some locals refer to as the rich part of town. New high rise buildings are found everywhere and more being built. There are numerous shops, supermarkets, restaurants, offices and more around me. It is consantly busy with buses, mini-buses (which I usually take), taxis, cars, and many pedestrians. The sidewalks, unfortunately, are mostly new "cobblestones" which make it hard to walk on. Many are of different heights, so it is not walking on an even surface. Occasionally a stone or group of them are missing. Sundays are my favorite in Addis for getting around. There is less traffic and air pollution on that day. There are new billboards advertising everything. The problem is that they are huge and low to the ground at an angle. So, if you are not watching where you are walking on the sidewalk, you could easily run into one of these large billboards.

The main road where I live takes you to the airport. Every week or more, I encounter an odd scene. When the local or foreign dignitaries have to go to the airport, motorized traffic is shooed away.They are to take the side streets or other streets. The new federal police in their blue camaflouged outfits and rifles have their backs to the street and watch us. They are set about every 20 feet or so and sometimes instruct us as to where we should be walking or whatever. Then, after about 15 minutes of quiet, about 8-12 vehicles zoom at least 100 m.p.h. down the street to their destination. After about 10 minutes, traffic and the noise resumes. Sometimes, the regular police also assist them.

In the Emperor's Kitchen

Work-Internet has not been working or slow, hence the slower posting here. I moved to my "permanent" office about two weeks ago. They call it the basement but is on the ground floor in the back. This building was the former residence (palace) of Emperor Haile Selassie and my present space is what used to be the Emperor's kitchen. I am sure it is just one of many kitchen rooms. This office has a very large window, about six feet by four feet, and opens to trees, flowers, and birds. I have a computer and large wooden desk, a large antique looking office cupboard, a couple of other tables and two chairs. There is also a little service window with wood doors which I think the cooks used to hand over coffee or food on trays, perhaps to the kitchen staff. Across from me is a small resource room which is mostly computers for post-graduate students. There is a lavatory around on the other side (squatting), but since it lacks water, will continue using the one on the third floor. A history professor's office is next door.

Last week we had a great meeting about the grant and purchasing library materials for the project. I volunteered to look into out of print dealers who may have Horn of Africa materials. The library has purchased some materials, are in the midst of purchasing some more and hope to purchase other titles soon. It appears that like in other libraries everywhere, theft continues to plague this collection. I volunteered to serve on the library security committee as well.

I received a couple of reference inquries and hope to track down some journal articles. There is no reference desk in our library, surprisingly. I am hoping to use the library with these reference questions and see how it operates as well.

Other: Eid came and went. Great numbers of Muslims were on the streets on that Friday morning as it was declared a holiday. They went to pray outdoors the Stadium in their finest and newest clothes. Sometimes, they would be chanting as they walked to and back and some roads were also closed due the the large numbers of people participating in this religious event.

A group of us joined the wildlife society on a trip outside of Addis. First night was in Lake Langano at the Bekele Mola hotel-the water was choppy and very brown looking. It was pleasant to sit outside and have drinks and chat with the others. A few went into the water and enjoyed it. Unfortunately, another small group of loud music users was next to some of our rooms and of course we did not sleep well. A nice breakfast buffet and we were off to Sankale. En route, our bus had a small problem and stopeed in Shasemene to get it fixed. Some of us found a coffee place and enjoyed that and other drinks. In Sankale, we visted the Swayne's hartebeest sanctuary. Evidently, there are only 275 of them and the government is trying to protect these herds. We drove in a Landrover around the tall grass to see these graceful and shy animals and then walked around as well. We saw them grazing but when they noticed our vehicles, got in a line and seemed to dance away. The terrain was full of thorny acacia trees or young shrubs full of thorns and some small wildflowers inbetween. It was hot. We arrived in Wondu Gennett at dark and found our rooms. Some enjoyed the hot springs and waterfalls and some enjoyed the hot springs showers in our rooms before dinner. The next morning, we again had a nice buffet and sat outside. Vervet monkeys eyed our food hoping for scraps. There were also giant vultues circling around. Many took a few leisure hours to enjoy the water, to take photos of the numerous flowers, or to argue with the hotel bill. Just like most hotels in Ethiopia, there are two rates-one for local people and one for foreigners. (sometimes, there are more rate advertised). Since we were a group of 33, we were supposed to get a small discount as well. We proceeded to the Wondu Gennett School of forestry and had a pleasant walk along the trees and shrubs in a rain which lasted for about 30 minutes. Then we lunched there and headed back to Addis and arrived home about 7:30pm. We saw a huge amount of bird life and numerous interesting farming scenes along the way.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Big rains have ended!

Work: Things are moving along and look forward to tours of the different areas of the library this week. I have started looking into what databases this library can access via the main library as well. Am considering starting a Database Review where we open all the databases and study them. Perhaps we shall do this twice a week and discover the highlights of each resource., just like I started doing at the Univ of Utah Library. I was shown a new office space- in the basement this time -(am in the fourth floor attic right now) but it is not ready as yet.

Other: All of a sudden the rains stopped. October will be windy and dry according to what others have told me. Last week a friend from the wildlife society told me about a flamenco dance performance at the National Theater. The performance was fine and the theater was big and wonderful. It was built during the emperor's regime. Also, found brown bread in nearby supermarkets! The fasting season of Ramadan will end soon and Eid will be a holiday here. Still waiting for them to fix my hot water heater at home.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

In Darkness and Rain

At the Univ: Had brief meetings with some of the library staff and also met the director of the Inst. Last week, I was invited to tag along to visit bookshops in Addis to peruse future acquisitions. There has been a lot of material published both in and out of Et. I started looking at some databases which might be helpful in retrieving citations for my work. There are many! Also, the head of the Abysinnian Baptist Church, Mr. Butts, was here with a delegation. They visited the museum and had some meetings. Met some of my former colleagues from various area libraries as well.

Other: Last week I turned on the hot water heater for my shower (or geyser as they say here). It sort of blew up and knocked off all the lights in the apt. I called the guards who decided to find the main fuses, but it took them about an hour since that room did not have lighting! This week the univ. is supposed to fix the heater, so we shall see. Meanwhile, am boiling water on the stove and then dumping it in a bucket so I can have a bath that way.

Actually, each day the power goes out for 10-20 minutes. There seems to be a generator that then restores things. Since it is a high-rise apt building, I heard there was an elevator as well but would hate to be stuck there, even for 10 mins. At work, I have only seen the power out once.

Rains and heavy rains continue. Yesterday was a bit eerie with it being so dark and just sheets of heavy rain for hours. Just when I thought it would end, it would continue pouring endlessly. These rains were supposed to have ended a month ago.

Started up my Amharic lessons twice a week with my former teacher. The verbs are the trickiest as they agree with fem, mas, polite (that is big here!), etc. From years ago, I mostly remembered the nouns. I would like to learn to read some Amharic. The menu in the Staff Lounge (Univ restaurant) used to be in Engl and Amharic but now is only in Amharic. Most shops and office are in Engl and Amharic.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Blondes Have More Fun

Work: getting moved out of the Ras Hotel and moving into a large studio apt on Bole Rd took up much of last week. We had a mtg on Friday afternoon to discuss some of what I might be helping the IES with. My real work will start on Mon visiting the 4 areas of the IES and seeing what they are like, reviewing the coll dev policy, etc. Later, I might try and identify titles for the IES to look into for purchase. Internet did not work for the first four days last week but now seems okay.

I go to work in a minibus -actually take two of them. They are easily flagged down major streets in Addis. It is a communal taxi and is efficient but more costly than the crowded buses. Usually, I eat lunch in the Staff Lounge and there are a couple of other restaurants on campus.

Other: Apt. needed to be cleaned and of course many items to be purchased. There are some things that need to be fixed as only one electric socket works. My apt has a large "French" door with glass leading to a patio, fridge, gas & electric stove, kitchen sink, sofa, two chairs, a bed, coffee table, small dressing area with a bookcase (useful for storage), a wardrobe, a bathroom with shower and hot water heater. I made lots of small purchases and need to still get some curtains. There are some crazy dogs that enter the building fromt time to time and bark their heads off at times at night.
I hired a cleaner that worked for me some years ago. She plans to work on Mon and Thurs mornings since it is a small place-mostly to do laundry.
Met my former Amharic teacher and set up lessons for twice a week.

Many changes since I was in Eth. 7 years ago. Lots of women now have blonde hair or highlights and occasionally, a man will as well. Women are wearing more pants and jeans than before. Lots of new highrises-condominiums, office buildings, and shops. Internet cafes are found in many places in Addis. Many folks have mobile phones as well & so do I. My phone number (now the correct number) from the US is probably (251) 913-1744-55 and is 8 hours ahead of Mountain Time. The amount of beggars on the streets is the same, sadly. The traffic and congestion seem the same if not greater. The air is bad-diesel, fumes from everywhere, lead to daily air pollution . Prices have gone up for basic things and people are complaining about this. They also complain about the overseer of the country which I have not heard a lot before.

It rains heavily each day for a few hours. The rainy season is supposed to end now. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

In Africa!

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Tenaystilling! Ethiopia looks very green and the rains are still continuing. There are 3-4 hours of heavy rain. Everything is spruced up for the Eth. millenium last Wed. The country's overseer declared a few days of holidays last week.

Arrived here on Thurs as scheduled & flights were fine. However, one of my two bags was missing. Spent 2 extra days in airport looking for my bag. When I started my journedy in SLC, there was a mix up of mistagging both my bags which I did not know. In Dubai, had to pick up my bags but asked an airport porter to do that. He picked up someone else's bag, but did not find out until I arrived in Addis. They had put some other person's name on those two bags. When I finally got my bag yesterday, still another name was tagged on the luggage.

The AAU transport person picked me up & had also asked a friend who has a taxi to meet me, just in case. I am now staying in the Ras Hotel a few days until my permanent place is decided. The Univ guest house is supposed to be not great & on Mon I will look at it. I don't know all the housing options, but hope to find a place in the next few days.

Meanwhile, prices of everything have gone up 20-30% from what people tell me. As usual, the salaries have stayed the same. For the first time I noticed people complaining about the overseer who has been now a dictator for 17 years or so.

On Monday, the University will re-open after the new year holidays. I plan to go to my workplace and also head for the embassy. I hope to have a cell phone here and am in the process of getting that.

Went to a Ge'ez language service today at 6:45am. It was packed! Ge'ez is the liturgical language, sort of like Latin in other churches. It is no longer used except by the clergy.
Hope to post next weekend as well. Hope you are doing well. Feel free to email me at my regular email address & will respond to those message. Marie

Monday, September 10, 2007

Out of Africa

Hello, I leave today for my 6 month sabbatical to Ethiopia. I will be working on a collection development library project with the Institute of Ethiopian Studies in Addis Ababa. I arrive there Thurs Sept 13 about 12noon via Phoenix, NYC, Dubai.

Still have to finish packing away apt. things and then finish up packing my bags.

Hopefully, I can post something next weekend.
Abysinnia, Marie

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Early Sept

Visa arrived. Do not have any info regarding my housing in Addis. Hopefully will find that out by Sept 13. Meanwhile, packing like mad at home & in my office & finishing doctor appointments.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday, Aug 24, 2007, Salt Lake City

Getting ready for the sabbatical project at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Here, saying goodbye to colleagues, family, and friends. Waiting for my visa from the embassy. Many things to pack up at home and my office has to be packed up as it is moving to another temporary space when I return in the spring.