Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Checking Coffee Beans in Harar

Monday, August 06, 2012

Blog 5
August 5, 2012

Hi All,

Well, here we are again for the last time in a while.  We will be back home in just over two weeks, but want to share some stories and photos with you.

A couple of years ago when we were in Kenya for the first time, we were contacted by an author who was writing about life after work – retirement, and we were featured in that book.  Now, we have been contacted by another author, and it seems that we will be in a forthcoming book – “65 Things to Do When You Retire: Travel” .  Will keep you posted.

Unless you have lived in Addis Ababa in their winter – now, you wouldn’t believe how cold and rainy it is, and we mean RAIN – big time.  So strong you can’t talk without shouting, and you can’t see through the sheets of rain.

We have been working with CSWs – commercial sex workers, partly because our partnership with the CDC is interested in helping them get on treatment, and become trained for other work, and also because of our NGO’s similar interest.  We have some ideas and are starting to develop contacts for training and employment.  These CSWs are very poor – they only earn about 500 birr a month, ($25).  Not much and not a good life.

The money here is so old and dirty, it smells, and we know some people who keep it in a zip lock bag rather than a purse or wallet. Some of it has such large holes that you can put a bill in front of your eyes and actually read.

The African Union is headquartered here and a few weeks ago, they held their annual meeting here.  The problem, was that there were so many soldiers and road blocks that small trips that normally took 10 or 15 minutes, took as much as two hours.  All the beggars were taken off the street, and no parking was allowed on many of the streets.  Traffic here is bad enough, and so you can imagine what those 3 days were like.

Our compound has a small generator for when the power goes off – often.  So if your generator needed fuel, you would go to the filling station and get some in a can.  Our compound doesn’t have a can.  What to do?  Put the generator on your shoulder and take it to the filling station.  Really!!

Here you can buy a newspaper for 2 or 3 brr, or you can read it for 1 brr while drinking your macchiato and give it back to the paper boy.  Not bad.  Everyone wins,

We needed to renew our visas.  Lines and lines.  Room after room.  Wait and wait.  And outside were thousands of women trying to get work permits to go to Arab countries to work as house maids, etc.  They will have a very tough life.  After waiting on lines, filling out papers, getting our pictures taken, etc. they told us we needed to come back the next day. Yes, we came back to the next day and got our visas.

It took a long time and everyone said it couldn’t be done but we did it!  What did we do?  We learned how to edit and revise the web page of our NGO here in Ethiopia, which as you may know is connected with the HQ in New York.  It is only partially done, but you can now go directly to our local page at ascethiopia.org.  Sounds easy, but it took a long time.  Thanks to Hana, our co-worker who succeeded in figuring out the technical part, and Peter who was too stubborn to give up..,In Swahili, he is mutukutu.

One of our taxis that we use regularly, lost its horn in a major rain storm.  So now Wondi the driver just leans out his window and claps his hands instead of beeping the horn.  He really does, and you know what?  It doesn’t make a difference, and neither did his horn when it worked.

We went with the rest of the staff to a resort not far from here and conducted a strategic planning session. We did the first part together with them, and they will finish it on their own.  We know they can, and for us, that is what we like to do most – teach and build capacity.   It went well, and to boot we had fun.  Our hotel had naturally heated mineral water coming out of the shower.  Cool!  No, hot!!

We think the Ethiopian people are extremely good looking and beautiful, and we have been so many places, that we have a lot to compare too..Nice color, nice complexion, nice hair.

We were lucky enough to walk into a Sudanese restaurant a few nights ago just at the time that the Muslims who are observing Ramadan came there to break their fast.  We joined them for a delicious meal – free.

We have traveled all around this country and for the past 3 days we took a trip to the East, part of Ethiopia where we have not been.  We visited the city of Harar.  Harar is different than the rest of Ethiopia which is mostly Ethiopian Orthodox.  Harar is Muslim, and is the 4th most important Muslim holy place.  (Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem).

The old city is built behind walls and is a maze of narrow, twisting alleys.  It is also where most of the khat which is produced here in Ethiopia is exported to Somalia, Kenya, even, China and Europe.  We went to the Khat Market which is so hectic, crowded and congested, that our photos will not do it justice.The old city has nearly 90 tiny mosques..  At least one of the mosques, and probably more, homeless women and children can stay and eat for a few days at no cost.

Harar is very colorful, especially how the women dress.  We were lucky to have been there during Ramadam so the whole old city had a fresh coat of paint – blues, pinks, green, etc, and lot of designs painted on the walls.

Oh yes, Harar has an interesting tradition, but it has gotten a little hokey.  Tradition, on a certain holiday, the local people would feed hyenas porridge and depending on how much they ate, there would be 7 years of good luck for the city, or 7 years of bad luck.  Now days it has become a nightly tourist attraction.  The “hyena man” each night holds a stick with camel meat on it and 5 – 8 hyenas come and grab the meat.  For a fee, tourists can do the same.  Not us, but we took some photos of the crazy tourists.

We are back home in Addis.  Hinda has the flu, and we are hoping she will recover before we leave here.  So to help insure that will happen, we  had the women who cook for us make Jewish penicillin – chicken soup according to the recipe that Hinda gave them  And guess what?  It was really good.  Of course we wouldn’t have done this anyplace else we have been in Africa, but it is so cold here it was ok.

It has been good sharing all of this with you.  We will see some of you very soon.

Hinda and Peter

Crazy Tourist Feeding Wild Hyena in Harar

Women Praying Outside Harar Mosque

Veiled and Unveiled i Harar

Veiked and Unveiled 2, Harar

3 Young Friends in Harar

Poor Women Sleeping Outside a Mosque in Harar

Raw Meat, Bread, Injera, Hot Sauce

Praying in Blue

Potato Seller Friends, Harar

Turquoise and Pink, Harar

No Donkey to Help

Harar Ninja Man

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Wholesaler at Harar Khat Market

The Harar Khat Market

Khat Market Colors

Homeless Womn at Harar Mosque

Help Me Daddy

Harar in the Morning

Harar House Colors For Ramadan

Showing Off Gold Rings, Earrings, Bracelets, Nose Stud, Harar

Young Girl in Harar

Ethiopianeon Orthodox Prieat at ASC Staff Lunch

Coffee Beans and Jebanas

Using Your Head i Harar

A Lot of Khat, Harar