Ethiopia MTB Nigeria

Journal entry, 23 August 2005, Addis Ababa

It did not rain today…seems the rainy season is winding down. Days are
getting warmer, which I am wholeheartedly welcoming…hoping the warm sun
will dry out this chest cold I’ve been dealing with for a week or so now.
Speaking of rain, when it rains, it pours here. It doesn’t know how to have
a good ol’ farmer’s rain.

Heading out to UNHCR Shimelba camp in the morning. Am looking forward to
experiencing Tigray people and gaining some insight into the region…hope
to talk with Dr. Amare about the history of northern Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Will be nice to get out of the office, and Addis. Sometimes is difficult to
keep the perspective of the people-who we really work for-when banging away
at a keyboard and filing reports. Working in the field and talking with the
people about the stoves, their lives, sharing time with them is what I need
at this point in the project.

Finished reading Thiongo’s “Petals of Blood.” He is fast becoming my
favorite writer. Blow’s my mind = the creativity in which he sets up his
explosive and powerful critiques of humanity. “Devil on the Cross” and now
“Petals.” Need to find more of his writings…will check out the African’s
Bookstore over in Piazza to see if I can find a used copy.

It is very quiet here in our home. I like the quiet. Mornings are not as
nice. The daily barrage of prayers over the loudspeaker at the church up on
the hill has lost all novelty, cultural interest, whatever you care to call
it. It wakes me up before my body is ready to wake. I find it an invasion
of my space…maybe more my mind. I plot out how I am going to walk up
there one night and cut the cord. Though I suspect there is a guard and
that it would be bad for relations, etc!!


Next week I’ll turn 31. Not sure what that means. Or how I am supposed to
feel about it. I like what I am doing and where I am, so I guess I am
supposed to be doing what I am doing at this age.

I miss my mountain bike immensely. Seriously, it is absurd how much time I
spend thinking about my bike and riding. It’s been a nuisance, this missing
being on the trail thing, bombing down a forest road, rock-hopping, jonesin’
on singletrack dreams…maybe when I start popping the malaria meds I will
have a lucid mtbing dream that will cure me of this illness.

I am tired. The instant mashed taters sit in my gut like a water balloon.

This land they call Ethiopia…I am coming to know, and like what I am
coming to know…its people so kind and so warm, make me feel at home in my
skin…oh Axum, I cannot wait till you reveal your wonder to me…will I get
a little insight on Thursday night…and those mountains “the roof of
Africa”…I yearn to look out over you and feel your high altitude
breezes…absorb me in your existence Simien, and I will beg of you no more.

Wow! Not sure where that came from.

I wish I could speak Amharic. Language opens worlds.

The evening is getting late, and I need my rest. Will be nice to start a
new book tonight. Soyinka’s “Ake” is on the reading docket. Only a few
weeks until we’ll be in his land, Nigeria. West Africa…land of big drums,
and home to slave castles and the building of America’s dream found in the
bones scattered across the Atlantic’s floor. What better way to understand
my country’s foundation than through walking and talking on the shores that
my history books forgot to tell me about.

Feeling angry now.

Ok, think of the children celebrating the holy day the other evening.
Voices singing in the night. Sticks banging against the ground. Rattles
shaking in their hands. A big moon up in the sky.

Children singing, is there anything more beautiful this world can offer?

Happy. Again.

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