Monday, October 22, 2007

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.

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