Friday, January 31, 2014

A Wedding in Amina

On Sunday, I went to a wedding and pulled a Sherlock. By which I mean I left early, not solved a murder.

It started like this. Dani and I were talking about weddings, because I've missed two since I've been here. And apparently, there was one Sunday for Tadeck's cousin. Did I want to go? It was close to the River Boru, so maybe a 30 minute walk.

What else was I going to do? Laundry? Psh.

But I quickly realized that 30 minutes was a underestimated guess. Try closer to 50.

And of course, we were the first ones there.

I don't mind weddings, I've been to a few already here in Ethiopia but they had all been during PST. Nothing in about two years. And all of those insentiences had been brief. Two hours, top. Here it was, noon, and Dani explained the day to me.

We were at the groom's house. A car was coming from Huruta, picking people up to come here, including the groom. Then, we would eat. After that, we'd all pile in the car and head to the bride's house for a second lunch. Then come back for dinner, music and dancing. Dani estimated that we'd be back at 7. That is, 7 international time, not 7 Ethiopian time (aka 1 in the afternoon) like I thought she meant back at the house.

Oh man.

At about one, the bus arrived and in came a flood of people. I'm not entirely sure who they all were. I gathered from the high class suits there were only two groomsmen (and no bridesmaids, they were at the bride's house). I figure some were family, some friends. It didn't matter much. They were all rhythmically clapping their hands, cheering for the groom, and bouncing on their toes as they did so.

We ate lunch, which was quite a spread, and I was beginning to get really uncomfortable. Sure, I had Dani and Tadeck to talk to, but I was surrounded by Amharic in a stuffy tent with a hundred people that kept staring at me. I'm considered a source of entertainment here. Oh my! Look! There's a foreigner here! You'd think I'd be used to it now, and while walking down the street I usually am. It's harder when you're in a crowd.

There's never any after meal conversation in Ethiopia. You eat, you go. Within 30 mins, everyone was finishing their meals and the groom was being escorted out of the compound with more clapping and a three toned honk from the bus waiting to take him to his bride.

Really? Isn't the bride just down the next street in this tiny village? Can't we just parade it?

Nope. I somehow found myself squished into a private car with Dani, one of Tadeck's brothers, a strange man and women, the driver (who actually lived in Addis and was rented for the day), and two random kids (which belonged to none of us). Apparently the bride didn't live in the village. Nor did she live in Huruta. She lived beyond it. And we were all going to get there thanks to two motorcycles, this private car, and a bus meant for 26 people.

Sorry, I love free food, but I can only take so much.

Dani supported my decision to get out of the car in Huruta. It was too hot for me, she could tell by the way I had guzzled qeneito (I think the most appropriate way to describe it would be barleyade). The only problem was, the caravan didn't go through Huruta. They went through the rural areas instead.

So I hopped out at the bridge just before the river, very grateful I had brought my umbrella to keep the sun off me, and watched the rest of the party go on. Dani later said she wished she got out with me.

I walked home, washed my feet, they were filthy, and then watched movies, crocheted some of my shawl, and wrote. Dani and Tadeck didn't come back till 8, well after dark, looking exhausted and a little peeved there hadn't been coffee. Still, the rest of the day had been nice, if nothing new, as faces changed at the different locations. The couple was happy, and now if I didn't mind, they were going straight to bed.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

So I went to mail a letter

I recently went to the post office to mail a letter to my grandpa to find the tariff to send it (aka stamps) is up to 8.85. A week ago, it was 6.60. And when I came to country, it was 5.80.

Let's not talk about the tax I have to pay to get a package (went from 5 to 10 to 25).

It's not that these fees are crazy. Actually, yes they are. The price hike is huge. But I can afford it. I don't know what habasha in Huruta can. Two bir can buy a week of carrots. Or most of a pen for school. That's a bit more important than sending letters.

Not that letter writing is common here. Many people can't write at all. To the point that the post office is where you go to pick up your social security money, because it's the only government office with the empty course load that can serve a bunch of people once a month.

Anyway, it's been interesting, and slightly scary for the people I know, watching inflation rise here. Food is more expensive, as is school supplies, fridges, clothes, any sort of appliance, and I wouldn't be surprised if utilities – sparse as they can be – have risen too.

It's awoken a strange desire to study economic in me. But I also blame Sloan for that.
(The Newsroom awakes so many desires, period.)

But as I sit here, watching prices rise and see so many people already struggling, I can't help but wonder if maybe having PCVs in the Education system here isn't the best idea. It's not like my trainings are well attended. And my English club? Let's be honest, most of those kids will never have a need to speak English. But teaching people how to save money and budget, how to eliminate waste, employable skills like computer training or project design. Those are the things that will make a difference.

So, I'm proud to say I have a Women's Day Project in the works, pairing girls who failed the 10th grade exam and are now essentially stuck in the house until they're married and then stuck in a different house, with successful women in Huruta to help them become self-sufficient. I'll let you know how it goes.