Did you know that toilets in Ethiopia are only for pee and poo? Everything else goes in the trash can. The Kleenex you used to blow your nose? Trash. The wads of toilet paper it took to clean your booty? Trash. Ladies, it gets tricky. That's all I'm allowed to say. Still, everything. In trash not the toilet.
Did you know that Ethiopians are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet? Their explanation is cultural. Since they have very little of anything material, they value people and relationships more than time and things. For the most part. This, I’m sure, will prove to be a difficult adjustment for us typical Americans. My day begins and ends with a To Do list. Time equals money, right? Even my children have the audacity to tell ME when I’m wasting their time. How dare they! That first trip to Ethiopia is making more sense to me now. I had said that time was a futile thing to them. A better word may be unimportant. Our family has much to learn.
Did you know that it’s only the year 2005 in Ethiopia right now? That’s right. And, until September 11, New Year’s Day except in Leap Years, it was just ‘04. It goes back to a discrepancy regarding the exact year of the birth of Jesus, which is the basis of both the Ethiopian and Gregorian (our) calendars. Lucky for us we’ll get to turn back the clock a few years when we make the move. Something to look forward to!
Did you know that English is taught in every school in Ethiopia at every level of education? I'm feeling dumb already. Although Amharic is the country’s official language and each region has its own dialect, basically if you want to be employable you learn English. However, we will be spending the first few months in language school because the masses of people with whom we’ll be interacting do not speak English.
Did you know that there is a city fabulous enough in Ethiopia for the locals to refer to as “Little Paris”? It’s just outside the capital and just a few miles from where we will be living. Boo. I am secretly hoping the only available house to rent is in Lobola, the official name of Ethiopia’s Little Paris.
Did you know that one can make it through an entire trip from customs upon entrance into Ethiopia to submission of the exit form when leaving Ethiopia with an expired Visa? Okay, it wasn’t truly expired, but someone had written the wrong year on it. It does justify why there was an unexplainable hold up at every stop along the way. Each official seemed confused by my documentation and asked me a handful of arbitrary questions before consulting a nearby colleague, who was obviously just as perplexed…or angry, and then sent me on my way. Oh, I asked after the commotion every time, but they politely waved me through. I guess nobody wanted to resolve the issue of the outdated Visa.
Did you know that I turn into a professional handyman when handed a roll of duct tape in Ethiopia? Big hole in the bathroom door left by the removal of doorknob and lock combo…fixed it. Giant framed wall hangings that seem to be permanently crooked…fixed ‘em. Curtains sliding off the rail…fixed those too.
However, some things should just be put into the trash. This baby doll, found in a basket of toys in the guest house, for instance. I mean, duct tape was not intended to resurrect the dead. What kind of sicko would do this? There are countless children suffering from nightmares because they’ve been exposed to the horror that is this baby. His feet and hands hanging on by a thread of cotton and his head cocked so far to the side it could only indicate its former life as Chucky.
Ah, there are so many more issues I could delve into. There are no physical addresses in Ethiopia. None. Crazy. My brain hurts over the thought of the disorganization. Their days begin at 6 A.M. so what we know as 8:30 is really 2:30. Confusing? Only to us.
Are you eager to know more about Ethiopia? Ask away! Or better: come visit us!