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.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

Marie--it sounds like you are having quite the adventure! I can't wait to see your photos!