Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Unicorn

Unicorn is a Peace Corps Ethiopia slang word, meaning that rare, mythical Ethiopian that you just connect with based on English skills and Western sensibility. I'm not saying I don't connect with the people I work with, but well, language and culture are huge barriers in forming friendships here and when you find someone whom you would hang out with in America it's a miracle.

I've meet on in Axum, who speaks English with no accent as she taught herself by watching movies and flipped out when it was discovered we like listening to the same non-mainstream bands. Most people don't know about Within Temptation and Nightwish, and to find an Ethiopian who does? Unicorn moment.

Here in Huruta, I do have my own unicorn, Dani. Who is also my landlady. And sister, as we have conversations in noises and both love chocolate chip pancakes. And mother, who knows what food I will and won't eat and rolls her eyes when the state of my room shows just how lazy I am.

Dani is, essentially, a life saver and I don't think I would have gotten through my Peace Corps service (3 months to go!) without her.

She used to be a maid for a family in Beirut, a pretty well known one considering she has a french issue of Vogue with a picture of the daughter parting, told me once she made coffee for Obama, and recently lamented about some Middle Eastern president whose event in his honor had her and the other staff members up way longer then they wanted to be. Dani came back to Ethiopia, and got married, a few months before I started my training here.

We'll have conversations about 'Papa Noel' and Easter eggs that have her husband baffled, whine about how the corn here isn't sweet, and share a kilo of strawberries while most Ethiopian's lack of tolerance for sweet things has them only having a few.

Dani will be what I miss the most when I go back. She'd my real life unicorn sighting.


Nilanjana Bose said...

Ethiopia sounds very interesting indeed, a rich tapestry! Thanks for sharing. Visiting from the A-Z and wishing you the best,

Post a Comment