Field trip to Dirashe country

In the second half of July I had the privilege of traveling to Dirashe land. Dirashe are the less known neighbours of the Konso people. The largest town is called Gidole and is about a 45 minutes drive from Arba Minch.They have linguistic and cultural similarities with the Konso but also have lots of very specific practices that do not exist elsewhere in Ethiopia or Africa. This is a beautiful part of Ethiopia and I had the chance to do a short pilot study on local food practices. I can tell you that preliminary results show that this is a place I will come to cook and eat many times in the future. It is delicious. And fascinating.

Posted in Africa, anthropology, bragging, Ethiopia, food, the African road trip feeling, Uncategorized, work | Leave a comment

Animal planet

This is better than TV

Posted in Addis, Africa, expat living, photography | 3 Comments

Sunrise in Zanzibar

Made it to Zanzibar for the second time. This time managed to venture beyond Stone town, did a spice tour and ended at the beach. Low season means the beach to ourselves, and four other people. I’m still not a fan of sandy beaches, the sand gets everywhere, but I cannot deny there is something esthetically pleasing about tropical beaches. Even my own hand looks photogenic.

Posted in Africa, bragging, expat living, holiday, photography, Tanzania, the African road trip feeling, Zanzibar | 1 Comment

Sunday in Addis

Posted in Addis, Africa, expat living, photography, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Artist in residence house – Elias Sime

Yesterday was a day of serendipitous moments. I wanted to visit artist Elias Sime’s house for a while now, since I first visited in November 2010 on a rainy night to attend a jazz concert there. But when I called the phone number of the curator Meskerem Assegued, I got one of those annoying messages from ETC about the phone being switched off. I thought I’d be adventurous for once and try and see if we can get in without announcing ourselves. Well, we were lucky. The artist himself was there, in his completely unassuming way, which makes one think he may be the zebenya, he let us in, reluctantly, saying we can come in for a few minutes, since we came unannounced, until it turned out we have a close friend in common, which made Elias smile, and he took time showing us around his amazing house. It is not possibly to put the creativity of this man into words, but here is an attempt by someone else. See my pictures and watch this video.

Posted in Addis, Africa, art, bragging, friends, photography | 1 Comment

Melkam Genna! Happy Ethiopian Christmas!

When Ethiopian holidays fall on a Sunday, one doesn’t get any time off. Unless one is Ethiopian, in which case absence is tolerated. I’m not Ethiopian, so my absence was not tolerated. But hey, sometimes, one has to do things that others deem intolerable. And I went to Lalibela again after 3 years to celebrate Genna, Ethiopian Christmas.

Posted in Africa, bragging, celebrations, expat living, frustrations, holiday, photography, the African road trip feeling, work | Tagged | 2 Comments

Happy New Year!

Posted in Africa, celebrations, friends, holiday, photography | 5 Comments

Tanganyka and Zanzibar

Posted in Africa, bragging, food, holiday, photography, Tanzania, work | Leave a comment

After the rain comes sun

After more than 3 months of pretty much rain every day, we are finally getting some sun. It’s also a New Year here, since September 12 (because of leap year), we are in 2004 Ethiopian calendar. I was away for 6 weeks and while I missed my dogs and my friends (and the shiro), I certainly didn’t miss the weather. The first week I got back I immediately got a cold and had to ask my mother to send more cold remedies and an extra woolen cardigan and socks. The socks and cardigan arrived yesterday, and they are keeping my feet warm as I am writing this, but I have to express my gratitude the to the “weather man” as we’ve been having sunny weather since Monday.

At university things are happening very slowly, in fact, as expected registration has been postponed for a week, and classes won’t start until October. In fact it seems all schools, every primary ones, are starting with a 3 week delay. In that spirit, the university also only just started painting classrooms and repairing ceilings in the corridors, to the point that for the last three days, I needed a shield to get through all the water and cement throwing in front of my office. On a more positive note, we have magically found toner for the printer and photocopying machine, so I even managed to get some papers printed out.

I also renewed my residence permit, which was extremely easy this time. Once you know what you are doing and if you work for a ‘reputable’ government institution like AAU, it is a piece of cake. They even had my photo saved in the computer, so all my effort to get dressed up and look nice on my new ID photo were in vain (I still look like a startled hostage).

As it is a New year, it calls for New year’s resolutions. Mine is to learn Amharic properly (or at least better). I am fed up with my habesha version of Me Tarzan, you Jane. While some of my friends console me, saying that there are farenjis who’ve been living here for more than 3 years and speak much less than I do, I cannot accept that as an excuse. As one of my acquaintances said the other day, you’ve been here one year, and still it is tinish tinish (small, small). He said it in Amharic, and I understood what he said, but all I could say was, ‘ikrtay’ (sorry). So the resolution has a solution: I will be taking an intensive 6 week course, 4 hours a day with hope that it will yield proper results. I am a polyglot after all ;-), so I should be able to learn this language if I set my mind to it.

Another resolution is related to the usual fitness routines. I want to get back to my yoga practice, but it is so freezing in the morning, that a 6 AM ashtanga in sth 16 degrees celsius seems impossible. So I am doing the next best thing and going for a weekend yoga retreat in Debre Libanos. I thought of swimming and just as I found a nice pool, not to far away from my house, with decent rates and not too crowded, they closed it down for maintenance and it has been closed for 4 days. In the end, I simply go to sauna and steam room and occasional massage. I am sure that is also good for something, right?

A final resolution has to do with reading. I love reading fiction, but the only real time I have for it is during my holiday on a remote Croatian island, where all I do is read, swim and rest. The rest of the year I barely make time. The resolution this year is that I will dedicate 4 hours a week to reading a book of fiction. And I have been quite good since I got back to Addis. Having no TV helps and the poor internet connection is also an incentive. I have finished the amazing epic Cutting for stone by Abraham Verghese. I can’t remember the last time I was so moved by a book. And now I am reading Teju Cole’s Open city. I am sticking to my Africa related reading list and still have plenty of books on my shelf for my weekly reading. I thought of posting a list of all the books I still have on my shelf, but I need to go and do some work now.

Posted in Addis, Africa, expat living, reading | 2 Comments

My summer office

This was my office for 11 days this August (apologies to Eva for stealing the idea, but I could not resist). I will be going back to rainy and cold Addis on Monday and to my not so inspired students. Can’t wait though, as my I miss my monkeys (my two dogs) and my neighbours (and shiro* tagabino) .

*when I recently expressed my longing for shiro, my mum asked: “Who is this Shiro, I don’t think I met him when I was in Ethiopia!” :-D


Posted in bragging, food, friends, holiday, photography, work | 3 Comments