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.