woensdag 19 november 2014

Settling in in Semera

November 19, 2014

About three weeks ago, I wrote my last blog. Unfortunately I have been sick again, but now I have fully recovered and decided to take it a bit more slowly as I did before. So no running or fitness for the mean time. By doing that I actually become more Ethiopian, not only in behaviour, but I grow into an Ethiopian citizen more and more (see also pictures).
In the last few weeks, I got my work permit, which means that I do not need a visa to travel in and out of the country. Furthermore, I can fly much cheaper to Addis or any other location in Ethiopia, because I will be no longer charged the “Ferengi” prizes. For a return ticket to Addis, I have to pay 4000 birr less (€ 150) than before.
Next to that, I opened a bank account, so I can receive my salary and am no longer dependent on bank transfers with strange text messages with codes with a failing telephone network.
And yesterday, I opened a post box, so you can send me all kinds of stuff that I am really missing from the Netherlands, like stroopwafels, muntdrop, goede chocolade, basilicum- of oregano-olie en kaas, but photo’s e.g. to decorate my home are welcome as well. I would very much appreciate it when you send something. If you do, address it the following way:
Geziena Patricia Koops
Post box 138

In my leisure time, I do a lot of activities as well and meet interesting people. Two week ago I went swimming in AGDA hotel and resort. This is a brand new hotel, on the way to Logyia, where, if I would sleep 4 nights there, have spent my monthly salary (4000 birr). Luckily the swimming is less expensive approximately 60 birr. In the swimming pool, I met some Indian guys. They turned out to be ICT teachers at Semera University, so I invited myself to lecture there and they thought that was a good idea. So maybe I can teach part of the IT Management program here, because to be honest I miss teaching more than I expected.
After swimming the whole morning, I had lunch at the hotel. At first it was a little difficult to get lunch at all, because it was the official opening day of the hotel and I had no invitation. After some discussion, I could eat in the restaurant, but then I was invited by Getaway to join him and his friend for lunch in the festivities hall.
At that lunch, I ate raw beef meat which is very popular in Ethiopia, then roasted meat and then some more meat. The meat, also the raw, tasted delicious, except a day later I became ill and I am off meat totally since then.  My whole body has developed an aversion against meat it seems, the only thing I feel I still could eat is chicken, but I have not tried. Well it has been 20 years since I last was a vegetarian, so time for a change.

After lunch, I went back to the pool and met the lovely girls I am in the picture with. They were really sweet, but spoke not a lot of English. Anyway we exchanged the pictures they took with their phone through Bluetooth.
I find it strange to see that no one who was swimming was any good at it. It was more an attempt to not drown than actual swimming. So I tried to teach some girls how to swim and maybe I can employ myself as a swimming instructor. I know the owner, so maybe we can work something out and then I can swim for free J.

At work things are beginning to progress as well. Maybe it’s because I became a little pushier towards my colleagues and demand (not asked) them to act and react on things I propose. I am working on my Annual Work Plan and have made a summary for myself of all the things I have learned till so far. Besides that I have observed many things which I think can improve or should change and also wrote that down. I hope to share this soon and then I really can get started.

Yesterday Emon, Hailu and I visited the girls’ boarding school in Semera. This school as the name already gives away is only for girls. They also have, except for the guards, a completely female staff. It is for girls in level 5 till 8. After that the girls can go to high school. There is one in Semera, but the boarding school is constructing a girls’ high school at the grounds as well. The head of the school is called Halima and after talking to her about teaching there, there is a good change that I will teach there as well. It was fabulous to see and the learning materials were very modern and good quality.
I also asked Halima for a hairdresser, because I really need a haircut. This weekend I will contact her and she said she would help me to find a hairdresser in Logyia. If there is no one who can cut my hair, I have to see if I can go to one in two weeks in Mekelle were I will visit Erna another VSO volunteer.

To end this blog I tell something I do in my spare time. One of the things is swimming as I already mentioned. During weekdays I stay at home after work. It is difficult for a woman to go out alone and I do not want to be harassed or worse. Even if I go somewhere during the daytime I am almost always the only woman there and when I walk the streets men shout at me (very stupid). Even when you only talked for 5 minutes with someone, they ask for your phone number and If you I give it, they text me, that they miss me (are they out of their minds?!). Sorry, sometimes I just have to let off some steam. So in the evenings, I read a lot and listen to music. For the last two weeks I did the crypto with Jennifer on Monday or Tuesday evening trough Skype, good fun.

For the weekends, I hang out with three friends I’ve met. We go to Logyia, the dry port in Semera or stay in Semera for lunch and a few beers. I expected to drink no alcohol during my placement in Afar, because it is predominantly Muslim territory, but there are at least 4 places in Semera which I found out till now where they serve beer. It is really enjoyable to drink a beer with these temperatures.