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On Sunday Ashley, Eliz and I went to Atlanta GA. Ashley had been asked to give a talk at a conference on Nutrition and Anthropology. We though it would be nice if we all went along and made a little holiday of it. We got to the hotel in downtown Atlanta shortly after lunch. Eliz was very excited to be staying in a hotel again (she is quite a traveler), but she was ecstatic to hear that there was a swimming pool! The moment we got to the hotel Eliz started badgering us to go to the pool! Within half an hour we were in the water.

Eliz loves the pool, her swimming skills are coming along rapidly. Though she still needs to ware 'water wings' to float; Eliz is very good at kicking and thrashing about.
After about an hour we returned to the room and started Ashley's Birthday early. We opened a bottle of champagne which we had cooling in a bucket of ice... Eliz had some apple juice (she was not as happy about that.) Then relaxed for a little while. After a bit we went out for dinner. It was nice not to have to drive. After two blocks we came to a "Hard Rock Cafe" and thought we would go there. Ashley noticed a Kiosk with "Information" on it, and asked the person inside about Indian restaurants there about. It seemed that there was one with in two blocks.. Well we decided to the Hard Rock Cafe... hmmm not to smart was it.... Ashley and I thought we would have lunch at the Indian restaurant the following day. Oh, the food at the 'Hard Rock Cafe' was disappointing (surprise, surprise!) Still we had fun, and then we went back to the hotel and finished off the champagne.

On Monday Ashley opened up her birthday cards, and Eliz had a little something to open too. Eliz and I sang 'Happy Birthday' to Ashley. We then had coffee then shuffuled off to a very disapointing hotel breakfast (that takes some doing too.) Then Ashley headed off to the conforence and after a while (we needed to wait for the sun to warm up the pool) Eliz and I went to the pool. We had a marvelous time, though the water was too cool for me... :( Eliz swam really well, and will go a certain distance by herself and swim back. Much fun had by all. We were back in the hotel room around 11 am to get ready to checkout. We were all packed by the time Ashley got back and we checked out.
After packing the car, we walked off to the Indian restaurant. The meal was lovely and we had a great time.

The trip home was not to bad. It was interesting to note that people seem to have gotten over the gas price, and are driving at the madcap rate that they were before prices started to increase. We got back in time for Eliz to go to her gym class. When they Ashley and Eliz got back from the class they made a Birthday cake together. Much fun had by all!

posted at: 08:27 | path: | permanent link to this entry

Thu, 25 Oct 2007

25th October, 2007.

Well Eliz started Preschool. (:
She started on Tuesday, and really enjoyed it. Eliz only attends the preschool twice a week, but she would like to go more often. When she is not there she keeps asking me when can she go a play with all of her friends.
When I took here there the first time I was not sure how Eliz would react to being left behind, but after just a moment to take in all of the other children, she was away and running. In just the time it took for Eliz to drop her bag, and shed her jacket, she was singing with the other children. :) Very sweet! I called to her as I was leaving and waived. Eliz looked my way with a lovely smile on her face and waved back. Then went right on singing... :)
My biggest regret is that Ashley was not there! Ash had to go to Haiti for a meeting...

posted at: 10:27 | path: | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 13 Oct 2007

11th October, 2007.

Elizabeth is well on her way to becoming a Marine Biologist.
This morning moved a little slowly, but it was pleasant. Eliz and I had agreed to go to 'the fishes' [the aquarium] today. Despite that the weather is cooler, and it is rather windy. I managed to convince Eliz that she needed to where her long trousers and a shirt over her bathing suite. We had a lovely walk to 'the fishes.'
There are two parts to the Chattanooga Aquarium. One part is fresh water, and the other is salt water. Each tank holds something Eliz really enjoys. The fresh water side has Otters, Snakes, lizards and Sturgeons. The salt water has Stingrays, Butterfly's, Sharks and Octopi.
Eliz told me that she wanted to go and see the stingrays and butterfly's first, so after we got our tickets, we headed to the saltwater tank. After parking the stroller Eliz and I walked over to the stingray tank. Actually the tank has stingrays, small sharks and guitar fish as well as a few cihclids for colour.
The tank edge is about four foot above the ground and is open. This is so that you can touch the animals [the stingrays have had their barbs removed.] It is a lovely venue and Elizabeth really enjoys it. She takes such pleasure in touching the animals [when she can, which is not that often.]
The tank was especially attractive today, as this was the fist time that we had been there since the guitar fish had been added. We stood in an area where we normally do. Eliz likes to stand on the lip that is about a third of the way up the side of the tank, so that she has a better chance of touching one of the animals as they swim around the edge of the tank. As Eliz was trying to get a good look at the guitar fish she fell in, head first!!! I was right beside her [as usual] and pulled her up into the air by her right leg! Boy it was a great shock to her, though it was also very funny. Needless to say she was extremely distressed, and she cried a lot.
I must say how very concerned people were, and a number of tourists asked if she was ok, and at least six different employees of the aquarium sought us out to see if they could do anything to help. The wanted to take her shirt to dry it for us [Eliz was only wet from the waist up.] A few of them wanted to get a tee shirt for her to ware so she would not go about wet. Eliz would not hear of taking off her bathing suit [she has three of them, and she would ware them all the time if we let her.] I calmed her down and we went to see the butterfly's which were close by. When we came out of the butterfly sanctuary yet another member of the aquarium staff sought us out, and this time gave Eliz a tee shirt. Eliz liked it right away and wanted to put it on...
It has a penguin on it!
Elizabeth is doing fine! Boy it was funny!

  • Eliz in the Tee Shirt.

    10th October, 2007.
    Last night Ashley and I went out for dinner to celebrate our anniversary and had a lovely time. It is nice now at Eliz is at a point where we can have a baby sitter come over for a few hours.
    Before dinner Ashley and I went to a bar that we picked a random, and were very pleasantly suprised at the range of beer that were on tap. I have not seen the like for some time. Not that the selection is quite what the Brickskeller in D.C.. After a couple of drinks we went to a hotel which was founded before the American Civil war (The Read House), but now -alas- belongs to the Sheraton. At least it is still a hotel.
    It was quite strange having an adult conversation with out being peppered by a three year old [well she will be on the 15th.] We got home at a reasonable hour, though I was slightly 'over served.' ;)

    posted at: 06:39 | path: | permanent link to this entry

    Wed, 23 May 2007

    Simple Pleasures

    May 22, 2007

    Hi, Family and Friends. It is a cliché that the simple things in life are the best, but these days it is very true for me. With work stuff, family stuff, money stuff, life never seems to calm down, but I always get refreshed when I spend time with Alec and Liz.

    Elizabeth Grace Mairead is becoming such a person these days. She's smart, goofy, type-A (where does she get that?), curious, snuggly (sometimes), talkative, and s-t-u-b-b-o-r-n. She does not enjoy being told "no" or having to wait for what she wants. Well, who does, really? But she's also getting better at telling us how she's feeling rather than going off the deep end. Or going off the deep end but later telling us why.

    My favorite time of the day with Liz is getting ready for work and play in the morning. She loves to dance in the shower to a rock/pop/disco radio station. The other day she was going crazy to "You dropped a bomb on me". It was so cool because she had the beat just right-slow disco/funk. And the expression on her face alternated between hilarity and grave concentration as she tried to perfect a new move.

    Alec and I are both enjoying her experiments with English. My favorite thing right now is her over-use of the word "that". She'll say "Mommy, take me to that kitchen!", or to a bug in her path, "Watch out, that bug!" Last night her toes got stuck in her pyjama trousers and she said "Come on, that foot!" She's also still using baby signs, usually to emphasize a point.

    Alec has been working hard teaching Liz to shake hands and say hello when she meets new people. He's also working on "want vs. need". It cracks me up. She'll say, "I need that toy!" and Alec will ask, "Need?" in a sort of skeptical tone of voice. Then she'll say, "I want that toy!" We're still working on, "May I have that toy, please?" I'll get back to you on it?

    Miss Liz has just learned how to pedal her tricycle on our back patio, and enjoys "going to the beach", which is what she calls playing at her little sand table (I love Target). She's equal parts fascinated and scared by bugs-I'm trying not to transfer my terror of spiders to her. The other day she killed a beetle in the back yard with a stick, after I repeatedly asked her to leave the bugs alone. I asked her why she killed it. She said, "That bug is taking a nap." I said, "No it isn't, it's dead!" She immediately 'fessed up: "Yep, I squished it."

    At least a couple of nights a week, and on the weekends, the three of us manage a long-ish walk together. Alec and I have our best chats on these walks, and it's a great way to decompress for me. Alec stays sane in large part by continuing to study and practice T'ai Chi, as well as some weights and yoga. I'm so impressed by his discipline. I haven't managed regular exercise since Liz was born. Good thing we are living in a hilly neighborhood-so I get some good from those walks!

    Well, I wanted to share a bit about some of the good stuff that I'm blessed with these days. We've had a couple of good trips to Ohio (in March) and Virginia (in April)-there are some new pics on the website from the Ohio trip. We're looking forward to a visit from Claudia C. soon. Y'all come see us too, hear? (okay, I promise I won't talk like that if you come visit us!)
    Ash (and Alec and Liz)

    posted at: 07:06 | path: | permanent link to this entry

    Wed, 07 Mar 2007

    7th March, 2007.

    Yesterday Eliz and I went to the aquarium. Chattanooga has a lovely aquarium, it is massive. The aquarium is split into two; one fresh water, and the other salt water.
    Eliz loves to go there, she especially likes to see the otters and the stingrays. Each of the two aquari [can you say that] have there own 'hands on display' where one may touch the 'fish.' On the salt water side, you may touch [when they come by] some small sharks and stingrays. The sharks do not bite, and the stingray's have their barbs removed. On the fresh water side, there is a tank of stergen [they also do not bite].
    Eliz really loves to go to these tanks. Since we have move here we have been to these tanks many times, but only once Elizabeth [when we came to visit last year] was she able to touch one of the fish. Part of the problem of Elizabeth is that she cannot reach very far, so she has to wait for the fish to come quite close to the edge of the tank. Only then does she have the chance to touch on or them.
    Since then each time we have gone to the aquarium we have made a bee-line for one of these pools. Unfortunately since that early visit Elizabeth has not been able to touch another fish. Yesterday we were in the fresh water aquarium and we made our journey through the tank, until we got to the tank which has the stergen. After standing there for a few minuets [amidst a lot of pre-schoolers] Elizabeth was able to touch one of the fish! She was ecstatic! Now Eliz was even more focused [she is always focused], so we stood there even longer and Eliz touched another fish! Boy what a day!

    posted at: 06:03 | path: | permanent link to this entry

    Mon, 05 Feb 2007

    Monday, 5th of February, 2007.

    Ashley finely got back from Haiti. She did not have much fun getting back. The problems did not happen in Haiti, but in another third world country... U.S.A. It seems that traveling here is getting harder and harder. Flights delayed all along the way. It is like being back in Africa. Ashley finely got back home at around 10:30 p.m. safe and sound, but very tired. Ashley brought me back a very nice piece of mettle art. to hang on the wall.
    Elizabeth has behaved very well (for a two year old) while Ashley was away. Eliz has developed a taste for sharks. We have been making regular journeys to the local aquarium. The aquarium is lovely, it takes up two large buildings, and was designed by the person who made the Boston and Baltimore aquariums. Eliz also really likes being able to touch the stingray's [they have had their barbs removed] and small [non aggressive] sharks. The other day Eliz was able to touch a one meter long steargion. [spl.?]
    Me.... I have cold.

    posted at: 06:57 | path: | permanent link to this entry

    Thu, 01 Feb 2007

    1st Feb, 2007. Chattanooga.
    Well Ashley is in Haiti, and she will be back on Sunday. Eliz and I are having a reasionable time (well we mostly have fun) :). We have been to the local aquriam, Eliz really enjoys the sharks (she is now the proud owner of a rubber shark.)
    Today it snowed here. It must be a rather unusual event as the local university was closed until noon. There was about an inch of snow on the ground. I suppose people might have been conserned about ice on the road. Eliz and I made the most of the snow and built three snow people [yes, I know they are called snowmen.]

    posted at: 13:32 | path: | permanent link to this entry

    Tue, 07 Nov 2006

    7th November, 2006. Election Day.

    Well yesterday as we were leaving the house we ran into our neighbors as they we returning to their house. On for the neighbors is a three year old boy named Tragion, and he goes by the nick-name of Tray. Well when Eliz was reintroduced to he she made her first [at least recognized by us] witticisum!
    Eliz said, "Tray..., Tray..., Choo choo tray!"
    Boy were we proud! :)
    Eliz certenly comes by it honestly!

    posted at: 12:44 | path: | permanent link to this entry

    Tue, 05 Sep 2006

    Saturday 2nd September – Alexandria. Raining/misting.
    Ashley left the house for the airport at 04:30, she is on the away to Haiti via Kennedy Airport. Eliz got up at 6am asking for Mama. I explained that Mummy was on a flight [making the sign for airplane] to Haiti, and would be gone for a week. We got downstairs just as flights were leaving from National Airport and one of them would have been the one that Ashley was on, so we listened for a moment.
    I spoke to Ashley at 7am at Kennedy just before she got on the flight for Haiti.
    Around 10am we went for a long walk [it was quite 'soft' outside, but lovely] making a loop and ending up at our local coffee shop St. Elmo's. Eliz slept most of the way. We got some tea and a blueberry muffin to eat, then went back out side to eat it. We sat under the eves of the coffee shop and enjoyed the now hard rain. We got home around noon.
    After lunch Eliz insisted on 'Barney' :( so what could I do...
    Ashley called from Haiti around 4pm. She was in Layogone [spl.?] after an uneventful journey, and was settled in.
    At 5:30 after Eliz had been fed we went for a short walk, Eliz had a short nap, and we ended up at Eric and Rebbecca's house. We had been invited over for Thai food cooked by Eric and Laura. We had a lovely time. Eric and Rebbecca gave Eliz a monkey [a replacer of one of the 'Space Monkeys'] which during the meal was called 'Pork Rind.' We had a lovely time, and got home about 9:30.

    Sunday 3rd of September.
    The night was a lot better then I expected. It was a rainy/misty day. We went for a walk about Del-Ray. When we got home I let Eliz watch what dvd's she wanted (unfortunately it was 'Barney.'
    In the afternoon Eric came over, and brought with him the bag I had left at his place the night before. Eric stayed for a bit and chatted.
    I talked to Ashley. She told me that she had been a church service, and that it had been very long, but interesting. Ashley talked to Eliz and she sang 'The wheels on the bus' to Eliz. Eliz was doing the hand motions while Ashley was singing. Eliz said 'ham' and 'cookie' as well as 'bay, bay' which is her version of Barney. Eliz also say 'bye, bye.' When Ashley mentioned Haiti, Eliz made the airplane sign.
    Fish and Chips for dinner, a bath, and then went to bed at 8:30pm.

    posted at: 17:45 | path: | permanent link to this entry

    Mon, 28 Aug 2006

    From Ashley 28th August, 2006.

    Hi, All,

    Just wanted to report that Liz is expanding her singing and dancing repetoire daily. Her favorite action nursery rhyme songs are "Wheels on the Bus" and "Itsy bitsy spider"-eency weency spider as Alec sings it, that Brit.

    She does a fantastic duck dance that is from the Wiggles, and she also has started saluting and giving the thumbs up sign, both learned from the wiggles as well. Her thumbs up is with the index finger pointing out, so it looks a bit as if she's holding up a bank teller, but oh well :)

    Alec has been working on counting and ABC's too-her rendition of the abc song is truly unique!! A lovely singing voice-even though I'm sure I'm biased.

    posted at: 07:31 | path: | permanent link to this entry

    Tue, 04 Jul 2006

    4th July, 2006. Alexandria, VA U.S.A. .

    Elizabeth is growing [now 20 months old], and making a lot of noise. She recently discovered the word “no”, which she now uses at a drop of a hat, and is firmly in the 'terrible twos.' When I get the chance I will put up some pictures. Yesterday [the 3rd] Eliz discovered cherry's and she got them all over her face and clothing [she had on a bib and was in a high-chair.] It was quite impressive.

    Well we are moving again. This time it is within America. Ashley has accepted the position of Executive Director of an NGO [Non Governmental organization] in Chattanooga Tennessee. The name of the NGO is The Children's Nutrition Program of Haiti. The url is CNP of Haiti. Though the program is in Haiti, we will be based in Chattanooga. Ashley will take a few trips a year to visit the program, and from time to time Eliz and I will go with her. Though Ashley will start with CNP in August we will not move until the New Year. Ashley and I are planning on learning 'Crielo' [I am sorry about the spelling.]

    posted at: 08:11 | path: | permanent link to this entry

    Sun, 12 Feb 2006

    12th February, 2006. Del Ray VA, U.S.A. Snow.

    Well it has been a long time since I have updated the blog. I do not know if anyone will read this.
    It is snowing today, but not to cold. This evening the temp is supposed to drop some 30 degrees. We shall see though; apparently it is rather hard to predict the weather here.
    After "digging out" from the 5" [if you can use "digging out" with 5"] of snow outside our house, Ashley, Elizabeth and I walked down to our local shops [about 10 min from her] and picked up a few items we were missing at home [bread etc.]. We noticed that some trees had lost limbs. In fact one had landed on someone's BMW. When we had this out of the way the three of us went to the playground, thinking -foolishly- that Eliz would like to frolock in the snow. She was not at all interested. I suppose she is still a little to young for that, or maybe like her Grandfather Preben she does not like the cold. Time will tell. We went on to St. Elmo's [one of the local coffee shops]. While we were there we met Jim, Nancy and a little boy called Robert [age nine months] and chatted for a while. Noticing that the snow was starting to pick up we beetled on home. Looking outside it is getting alternately dark and sunny as the clouds pass by. Very pretty.
    Well Eliz is sleeping so Ashley and I are going to see if we can have a late lunch... :)

    posted at: 18:02 | path: /old05 | permanent link to this entry

    Wed, 08 Jun 2005

    Wednesday 8th June, 2005. Addis Ababa Unrest.
    First I must say that we are all well, and have never felt threatened by anyone here. Over the past couple of days there has been some unrest here in Addis Ababa. This is related to the national elections which happened last month. Some people are not happy with the delay in announcing results.
    According to the AP news service and the BBC, around twenty people have been killed by government services.
    On Monday there was unrest at Addis Ababa University (which is far from the area where we live.) Apparently some people were hurt, but I have only heard this via the rumor mill.
    Tuesday afternoon, I heard that one of the schools around here had been closed for the day. It seems that they went on strike in sympathy for the students at the University. The up shot of this was that there were a lot of soldiers on the streets here. Local transportation was also a problem (taxis and mini cabs). These are cabs and mini cabs are privately owned. The government run services are up and running.
    Today, Wednesday, people are having a hard time getting about. The cabs are still on strike. I hear that the strike has been organized though the use of text messaging on cell phones. The embassy is keeping us updated with "current information" on the on going situation.

    As far as things go locally, we are all well. Lizzie is growing like weed, and starting to try different types of mush (carrots, bananas, peas were not a success.) It is looking like we will return in late September.

    posted at: 14:29 | path: /old05 | permanent link to this entry

    Mon, 16 May 2005

    Uganda Blog May 1-May 11, 2005
    Ashley Hi, All. I’m taking a “guest” spot on the blog, though Alec will be adding in his impressions as well. I’m sure his will be more interesting, as he was hanging out with Lizzie during the day, while I was giving a dull workshop :). We were both apprehensive in the days leading up to the trip, not knowing how Lizzie would handle the traveling. She slept most of time on our trip back to Ethiopia, but she is several months older now! (Seven months on the 15th-amazing how fast the time is going!) But we shouldn’t have worried. She loves riding in the Baby Bjorn, looking around at everything, flirting with everybody, and trying to put whatever is in reach into her mouth. On the flight to Uganda there were two Indian kids across the aisle from us, an 11 year old girl and her 8 year old brother. Liz watched them as though they were a Warner Bros. cartoon. I didn’t think she’d be interested in kids that much older, but she really was. Last time in Uganda we stayed at a colleague’s house, on the outskirts of Kampala. This time we stayed in a nice hotel right in the city center. We thought that would make it easier for Alec and Liz to get out and explore shops and parks during the day. The hotel is the “Grand Imperial”, and it has a website if anyone is interested. Though it certainly had its faults (when ordering room service we never had any idea how many forks, knives, spoons, or napkins we might get), it was quite comfy, and the staff were lovely. A scrumptious breakfast buffet-bacon and corn muffins were my faves. Lousy coffee though-ironic for a country that produces good stuff. Speaking of which, the best place we discovered on the trip was in a block of shops in the same building as the hotel, “Ban Café”. Very nice coffee, a cool décor (everything in shades of cream and brown with intricately carved and irregularly shaped wooden tables), and usually good African music. Pretty good sandwiches too! One day I gave into temptation and got a “coffee cream shake”. Oh my. Sooooo rich, with ground coffee bits in one layer. (Can you tell I’m obsessed with food and drink?) This time we were a bit disappointed in the shopping opportunities, or lack thereof. The Sheraton, which had a nice selection of shops when we were in Uganda last time, was being renovated, so no shops at all. And most of the shops right around the hotel were drab, or overpriced, or both. Found a good shop with bootleg DVDs each with 5 movies. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to pick up more than a test DVD there: 5 Jackie Chan movies. I hear Mom and Aunt Anne groan ;) By the 11th we were all ready to be home and back into our regular routine (and get away from the evils of room service ice cream at 9 pm). The trip home was blessedly short and easy. All the staff were waiting to welcome us home at 1 pm or so. Needless to say, they were delighted to see Lizzie again (and she to see them), while moderately glad that we came back too :).

    posted at: 12:04 | path: /old05 | permanent link to this entry

    Mon, 28 Feb 2005

    Monday, 28th February, 2005. “The Land of Milk and Honey.” Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Raining (it’s not supposed to be).

    Well we have been busy here. Not quite in the same way as we were busy before Elizabeth was born though. Since our return to Ethiopia I have left the house a total of five times. In fact, when I do go out now I feel positively agoraphobic… :) The scene here is much more “domestic” now; not that we were the “Wild Bunch” before, but we don’t get out for dinner much now. We used to go out for dinner twice a week.
    Elizabeth is now four month old, and on Thursday we took her to get the shots she is supposed to have. It all went very well, and she has not shown any side effects as a result of them. The nurse at the Swedish Clinic (where Elizabeth’s doctor is) told us that to date there have not been any complaints about this series of vaccines. Lizzie is still in the upper ranges of height for her age and in the mid range for her weight.
    A few weeks ago there was a big celebration for Bob Marley birthday in Meskel Square (only a few miles from here.) Ashley and I had planned to go (and take Lizzie), but decided not too at the last minuet. It turns it was just as well we did not go, as it was very hot (for Addis), and the atmosphere is rather thin at this altitude. We ended having drinks in the garden in the late afternoon. Even at 5pm we could feel the effects of the Sun. Still it would have been a lot of fun to go.
    Addis is growing; houses and office buildings are springing up everywhere. The roads are still not so good. In fact the road that leads to the Swedish Clinic is as bad as a road in the country in the rainy season! That’s bad. On the other hand the city is starting to name the roads here, so that is something. It will take a long while for the names to take I am afraid. Most roads are known by a local landmark. Oh, our house now has a house number on it….
    On a surprising note, we have been able to receive a number of things through the post. Last year almost %50 got lost, and so far three have come though.
    I noted at the top of this entire that there has been rain. This is quite unusual for this time of year (in the Highlands). The Highlands do not normally get rain until June/July. Now it is the long rainy season in the Lowland of Ethiopia. The weather is a little out of whack now.
    We just found out today that we are going to have to leave the county next month. This is because of visa requirements, and not because we have been kicked out… It Ashley is pushing for Uganda again. She has some work that she needs to do there, but I am hoping for Madagascar or Zanzibar. It looks like Uganda though…
    I just made my first batch of bead at “altitude,” and it turned out rather well. The two loaves (wheat) were a little burned. I was baking in an oven that did not have any temperature gage on it. I had to use one that you hung inside gage the temp. I am still looking for the “sweet spot.” The oven dials are without numbers as well. Fun, fun!
    Oh, I would like to thank Jason for the little push… :)

    posted at: 03:35 | path: /old05 | permanent link to this entry

    Sun, 16 Jan 2005

    Sunday, 16th January, 2005. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    Well we have now been back in Ethiopia for a week. After a rough five days, Elizabeth has adjusted to the time change, so we are getting a good nights sleep. The down side to that is that she is not sleeping as much during the day, so I am finding it a lot harder to get my work done. If it isn’t one thing it is another… :)

    When we left Ethiopia in August, we went to England to spend a couple of weeks with my mother and my Aunty Anne. Boy what a lovely change that was. The food was lovely, and to be able to go somewhere with out being stared at was a very pleasant change. The weather was great too. Then all of a sudden it was time to head off to America. There was only a small window which the airlines (British Airways, who by-the-by destroyed my hard samsonite suitcase.. they gave me another, but it is not the same) would let Ashley fly in, and it was rapidly diminishing.

    We had a lovely stay in America with my brother John. Ashley and I were able to spend time with our family and friends in Virginia and Ohio, though most of our time was spent in Wapakoneta (Ohio) at Nancy’s (Ashley’s mother) house. Nancy gave up her very nice room so that we could have the extra space when Elizabeth arrived. It was also lovely to have the extra pair of experienced hands about, when Ashley and I were befuddled by what our next step should be visa-vi our new born.

    On the way to Ohio we spent a couple of weeks with my brother John in Virginia. It was great to be there and see a lot of old friends, not to mention eating some wonderful Thai food at The Thai Square in Arlington. I must say I did enjoy a certain amount of malt beverages there. It was also nice to have access to good book and computer shops (very nice!).

    After a short while we drove to Ohio to Nancy’s. Ashley had been in contact (via Nancy) with a Midwife (Theresa Leite) at Lima Memorial Hospital, in Lima Ohio. We made arrangements to meet, and found that we liked her. This was fortunate as Theresa was the only Midwife in the city, and we wanted a Midwife…

    Elizabeth was delivered on the 15th of October, 2004 at 14:15 (a lovely day.) Ashley (I was there for moral support) was in the hospital for two days, and then returned with Lizzy to Nancy’s. Then the fun really started!

    In early December the three of us went back to Virginia for ten days, so that we could show off Elizabeth. When we were in Virginia in August, a good friend of our Marian MacRae had offered to lend us her house to stay in on our return to Virginia. Marian was planning on a cruse to more tropical climes, so it was very nice for us. Unfortunately, while we were there, a dear friend of ours, Kathy died of a long illness. We had known her for many years and she was a dear, dear friend. She is much missed by all who had the good fortune to have known her.

    After our time in Virginia we flew (Elizabeth did very well on the short trip. I can’t say that I did as well. The plane was very small, and there was not much room for all of the gubbins that we now had to carry with us!) back to Ohio, and were there until the 29th of December. We had a lovely Thanksgiving and Christmas. Boy, I ate too much, at least being back in Ethiopia I can shed the excess weight I put on, on our travels.

    On the 29th of December we left from Dayton Ohio Airport for the UK. We had a layover of about three hours in Virginia (Dulles Airport), and then caught a British Airways flight which got us to Heathrow at 06:20 GMT.

    We were in England until the 7th of January, and spent most of the time in Claygate with my mother and aunt. We made one trip into Kingston with Elizabeth to buy some goodies that we could not get for her in Ethiopia. We had hoped to have lunch at one of the pubs there, but no way. We were asked to leave by the two that we went to. I think they were afraid that I might pop Elizabeth a bit of single malt! This was quite surprising, the pub just down from our house in Claygate welcomes children, and I recall as a child having soft drinks at pubs while my parents had something stronger. What has happened, England?

    We had a good flight back to Addis on British Airways. Elizabeth is a wonderful traveler. I was very happy to find that British Airways now carries Fuller London Pride, an excellent beer. It was easily the best beer I have ever had on a flight. After an hour stop in Alexandria, Egypt to refuel we headed on to Addis Ababa.

    When we landed and got though passport control, we went for our bags. We had stowed four bags, but only three of them made it… yep, it was mine that was missing! I was not the only one who was missing bags. There must have been about fifteen people with the same problem. After an hour we had all of the paper work done, and then ploughed through customs. We had arranged to be met by the shuttle from the Hilton hotel. As the 7th was Ethiopia Christmas, we thought it would be better to stay at a hotel for two nights, rather than trying to get our house set back up over a holiday. It was a good idea. The day after Christmas, a land cruiser came from Save the Children and took us home.

    We had a wonderful time on our trip, and we were well taken care of by our family and friends in England and America, though, we are very sorry that we did not get to see all of the people that we would have liked too. It is however, very nice to be back in our own home here in Ethiopia.

    posted at: 08:15 | path: /old05 | permanent link to this entry

    Fri, 03 Sep 2004

    Thursday 8th of July, 2004. Uganda to Ethiopia.

    We called for breakfast in our rooms and read until 11:45, and then we went down for lunch. Ashley and I had places on the Airport Shuttle at 1:00 pm. Our flight did not leave until 5:40 pm, but we were not sure what the wait would be at the airport to get thought security.
    The trip to Entebbe took almost an hour. We were able to change our money at the local 4Ex with out too much problem. Though the first place that Ashley went to did not have any dollars, and they did not tell her that until she had filled out all of the forms. The second place had dollars and at a better rate too... Once this was done we when to check in. At the security gate they would not even scan our bags that were going into the hold. We were told by a very pleasant security guard, that we were supposed to wait in the lobby of the airport until our flight was called. So we went to the coffee shop and waited until 4:10 pm when we thought it would be a good idea to get into the small, but growing line (made up of mostly people who were unable to find seats in the coffee shop) of expectant travelers. Well line is rather a strong word, more like clump of people (mainly white and Asian types) huddling around the entrance to the security gate.
    We finely got our seats assigned (the scales at our check in desk were broken, so we had to move our bags to another station, fun, fun. At least we had seats together. After passport control we went into the duty free area. We had been looking for a digital camera (the current one dose not respond too well) and they had a lot of them. The man in the shop showed us a selection of digital cameras, and we settled on one, but I still had some questions about its power and memory. The assistant could not help us here, so he called over another man. He looked at us in a funny way and said that this was a film camera and did not need any memory… :) Well we had a good laugh and it would be better to buy one in America anyway.
    Finely the flight was called and off we went. We had to go outside and walk up to the plane, right past our bags. We were required to point out our bags before we were allowed onto the flight. Once on board we found (surprise, surprise) someone in Ashley’s seat, and yes they had been assigned it! We called the stewardess and she called the gate manager. We insisted on sitting together as our seats had been assigned together. Well they moved us, and we had them change our ticket stubs to reflect our new seats. The flight was not full now, but was going to be on the leg from Nairobi to Addis Ababa, and we had a bad feeling about this.
    We were in the air long enough for them to serve drinks then we were landing in Nairobi. We were on the ground for about 45 min. before the other passengers started to board. Sure enough I was in someone’s seat! We got the stewardess over and she put him my old seat, but he sat in a different one instead…
    There were rather a lot of people boarding with small children; they were all around the same age too (between two and six). Sort of like the film “The Children of the Dammed.” So there were kids running up and down the aisles while other passengers were trying to stow there luggage. After a certain about of pandemonium the flight got under way. Yet again there were seating problems, but fortunately not for us. I felt sorry for the flight attendants, they had nothing to do with the seating, but had to bear the brunt of the dissatisfaction of the passengers roth. They held up very well.
    Not long after the plane left the ground, one of the more annoying of the children through up all over his mother. The poor woman was traveling by herself with two small children. It must have been a long day for the poor woman, but she held up extremely well. The kiddies must have been very tired. I felt as sorry for the woman who was sitting one seat away from her too. Though I could not smell it at the time, the aroma was quite strong. After dinner Ashley managed to have hot coffee spilt on her foot, and she was on the inside seat too.
    Finely we landed in Addis, and we went smoothly through the immigration process, and we got our bags before most of the others did too. One thing that they are now doing at The Addis airport is to ex-ray your bags as you leave the airport… Why! Well anyway they are; one for “something to declare” the other for “nothing to declare.” We walked right between them and went outside and got a cab. When finely we reached our house, it felt good to be home.
    All in all it was an interesting trip, but I must say that the Ugandans are a very nice people.

    posted at: 07:42 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Wednesday 7th of July, 2004. Jinja to Kampala.

    At breakfast we finely had the soagues that were advertised on the breakfast menu, and boy I wish I had not. Ahh well, once again it is the case of appearance versus reality.
    Ronald arrived for us at 09:40 and we were on the road by 10:00. As we passed through the forest we saw that a cement truck had overturned and there was cement power all over the road. Along the way we passed quite a few Massy Ferguson tractors.
    It took us about two hours to reach Kampala, which made it around Noon. We were staying at the Sheraton, and the check in time was three in the afternoon. At the reception they tried to find us a room, which was very of them. The receptionist asked us to wait for an hour, and then we could move into a room. We left our bags and went for a coffee. I was able to get an espresso and Ashley had a mango juice. We then poked about the shops in the hotel. After a while we returned to the reception, but unfortunately the rooms were still being cleaned. The manager on duty very kindly upgraded us to a more expensive room which was ready. This was very nice of them given that this was still two hours before we were supposed to check in.
    After shifting our luggage we went to Chinese restaurant called Fang-Fang. The restaurant was not to far from the hotel, so we decided to walk three. On the way we passed a small park, and in the center of this park was a flock of Marabou storks just milling around. Ashley said that they looked like “dirty old men.”
    Feng-Feng was not quite as easy to get to as we thought (it was close though not as straight forward a walk), but after some false trails we arrived. Fang-Fang was fairly large and decorated in a fairly traditional manner (reds, gold, wood, lacquer where.) After being given a hot towel each they took our order. We started with chicken sauté, which was followed by sweet and sour pork, shredded pork (Szechwan style and extra hot) and Szechwan green beans (also extra hot.) The steamed rice goes with out saying. The meal was very enjoyable, and we did justice to it. An hour and a half later after another hot towel we were on our way. We stopped at a book shop and a couple of art shops, and then returned to the hotel, where we relaxed for a while. Around 5 in the afternoon we went to the swimming pool, but it was windy and the water was cool. I suppose I have been spoilt by the swimming pool at the Hilton in Addis which has a pool which is fed by a natural hot spring. We hung about just enjoying the sun, and then returned to the room. I had a nice hot shower!
    The only downside to the Sheraton is that it is being renovated “because you asked us too” (as the poster says.) The upshot of this is that there is not an inside restaurant, only a bar called “The Rhino Club” (or something like that.) There is an outside restaurant that looked quite nice, but there is always a cool breeze blowing off of Lake Victoria. We elected for The Rhino Club. The food was fine, but nothing special. The atmosphere was not what we would have wanted though, especially as it was our last night in Uganda. We returned to our room, and watched a very bad Three Musketeers movie (about the next generation.) It was very bad!

    posted at: 07:40 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Tue, 17 Aug 2004

    Monday 5th of July, 2004. Jinja.

    Breakfast at the Hotel Annex was a buffet and it over by 10am. By the time we got to the dinning room at 09:15am it was mostly just the flotsam and jet sum of breakfast that remained. I had toast and “coffee.” The staff did there best, but they had run out of most of there food items. So after this meager affair we returned to our room; the off to explore Jinja.
    On leaving the precincts of the hotel, we were swamped by bicycle touts. Apparently the local mode of transport is to ride on the back of one of these bikes, and be driven to your destination. It seemed strange to these operatives that we did not there services. The kept lowering there prices. They started out at about 1000 shillings (about 40p or 75 cents) and after a few moments (we were walking away, not at all interested) the price dropped to 300 shillings… We had to be rather abrupt with them, which given our recent dinning experience was not too hard!
    It took us about 10 min to walk into Jinja proper. Jinja is the third largest city in Uganda. The city really has the feel of an old colonial town, not unlike Georgetown in Panang in the 60’s and 70’s. I understand that M. Gandhi requested that some of his ashes be dispersed there.
    We walked along the main road of the city (Main Street) and had a good look about. There were a number of shopping opportunities that we took advantage of. Around lunch time we stopped at a place called “The Source” for a drink and a bite. The Source seemed to be designed to attract the Mazongo (foreigner). The name not only refers to the source of the White Nile (which Jinja is), but there is also a Seminary at the back of the establishment. I did not get any feeling of being in a “Christian” establishment. The religious element was quite understated. One thing I did notice immediately was the mosaics on the floor. They were lovely. They even had them in the men’s loo (Ashley told me that they were in the woman loo as well.) The Source had an espresso bar, internet café, a shop where you could buy pottery and art of different types. They also had a menu designed to attract them as well. There were cakes, sandwiches of all sorts, ice cream and bottled water. Ashley had an avocado wrap and chocolate cake with ice cream. To drink she had passion fruit. I had “chicken on a stick” and water to drink followed by two double espressos. The prices were not too bad as well. The Source is mentioned in the Lonely Planet edition on Uganda. Ashley and I were there for an hour or so, just relaxing. During that time we saw all sorts of people come in, not just the tourist types. They seemed to have rooms to let there as well, though I do not know that for a fact. There seemed to be a number of “traveler” types there.
    After we finished our lunch, we walked up to the post office to get some information, and then walked back to the hotel. The walk back to the hotel was pleasant. Just before we arrived there, we looked to our left, and we saw a dirt road leading to the lake. When we had passed by the road earlier we had not noted it particularly as that was where all of the touts were, and we just wanted to be shod of them. Well this time there were only a few touts about, so we turned left and walked down the dirt road. At the bottom of the road, we walked down a hill to the bottom; there were a number of shops made constructed of wood planks. While we were looking around, we were approached by a boat man who wanted to know if we wanted to go to the source of the Nile, Where Lake Victoria ends and the Victoria Nile begins. It was still a little warm, the sun was still high, but we arranged to come back around 4:30pm.
    We returned to the hotel and decided to cut our stay at the hotel short by a day and return to Kampala. That would still leave us plenty of time to see all of the things we had wanted to. At 4:15 we went to the lobby to call Kampala (we could not call from our room) only to find that you had to have a phone card to make a call. Now keep in mind this was not a cheep hotel. We were not impressed, but not too surprised given how bush things had been there. We were told that we needed to buy a 10,000 shilling card, but that as they did not have any there, we would have to pay an additional 3,000 shillings for someone to go and buy one for us. We express surprise, and told them not to bother. So we went to find the boat man. On the way back down the hill we passed a shop that had a telephone which you could place calls from. Earlier in the hotel Ashley had taken down the number of the Sheraton in Kampala. So we though we would give it a go. We got though without much trouble. We made (well Ashley did) for Wednesday the 7th, and the call only cost us 1,500 shillings.
    We got to the rendezvous point, and there the boatman was. It turns out that the actual location that we were at was known as “The Rippon Landing.” Our boatman’s name was Abudu Suotie. If you go there, and are interested in taking a boat trip his phone numbers are 043121786 (office) and 075981789 (mobile). Be sure to work out exactly what you are going to do, and then stick with it… :). Abudu is a nice person, but he is a businessman.
    We took the boat to the point where Lake Victoria meets the Victoria Nile. Boy it was a lovely trip. It was a good thing that we waited, as it was not to hot, but still nice and sunny. At the point where the lake and Nile meet there is a small island. Apparently there used to be a small falls there, but the hydro electric dam down the river has taken care of that. There is however the remains of a marker to Speke there that was put up sometime last century. It was wonderful to be there. There were quite a few birds around and about. We saw egrets, fish eagles (they were large) and Vera grated king fishers. After we had been there long enough to look about us, and take some pictures; Abudu asked us if we wanted to see the spot/monument where the explorer John Speke was supposed to have first seen Lake Victoria and the Victoria Nile. It was only about five min away (by boat.) Off we went and soon we were at the landing. We went up a hill to a new monument, and a very lovely view. We took some more pictures, and then off we went. Our next stop was to the Kingfisher Hotel. It was owned by a friend of Abudu’s. The place looked quite pleasant, much more along the lines (at first glance) of what we were looking for. The compound was full of flowers and other types of plants. Spread about were “huts” that looked rather nice, though we did not actually get to see inside one of them. There was a swimming pool that did look like it needed to be repainted in places. The bar by the pool seemed to have a nice selection of drinks. As we were leaving to go back to our hotel, we were passed by a group of woman and girls on the way to the lake to get water. It made a lovely picture. We had a pleasant trip back to Rippon Landing. When we docked, Abudu did want more money for taking us to the Speke monument, and after a little discussing we arrived at a fair price for the extra stop. That is why I said to be sure to stick to your original arrangement. Though; I must say that Abudu was a pleasant person all in all.
    Back at the hotel we took a walk around the hotel grounds. We came across a palm tree that (huddled amongst the coconuts) seemed to be a home for bats. There were a lot of them too. I took some pictures, but the camera’s lens was not really strong enough to show them. We had drinks on the verandah, and then went to dinner. The meal was not bad, but I do not recall what we had. Chicken I think. We were in bed early as we had a full day coming up. We were going to the Mabira Forrest and to Bujagali Falls.
    6th July, 2004. Jinja.

    We were up at 6am and had breakfast. We had arranged to be picked up by a cab, but when the time came to leave, he had not arrived :)… Fortunately there was another cab at the hotel. The cabbies name was Ronald, and after we had agreed on a price, off we went.
    The first stop that we wanted to make was at the Mabira forest. On the way I saw a heron, they are always nice to see. We also passed the Nile Brewery which was established in 1951 (I thought you would like to know.) The Mabira forest is part of a much larger forest which existed long ago, but most of it has been cut away and all that remains is the thirty seven square hectors that make up Mabira forest.
    Mabira is a government protected area, and is about half an hours drive from Jinja (on the way to Kampala.) It has trails that you can follow, by yourself if you want too, or you can hire a guide. We hired a guide, his name was Robert Kungujje. I am glad that he did, we were able to see some monkeys in the canopy, which if he had not pointed them out we would have miss them entirely. We saw Grey Cheeked Mangabeys and Black Tailed Monkeys. We also saw a great variety of birds and butterflies; not to mention all of the wonderful trees. The hike took about three hours all in all, and was well worth getting up for. If we had arrived later on in the morning we would have missed all of the lovely butterflies. Apparently they like the mornings and the evenings. Though I am sure there are a lot of snakes, we did not see any. The trees were lovely and tall. We saw trees that graft themselves onto another tree, and slowly strangle the original one. When this process is in an advanced state, you can see a hollow inside the parasite tree, where the original tree was, but has now rotted away.
    Once we left the forest we went to the Bujagali Falls (well really they are rapids.) The rapids were only about eight miles from our hotel, so we turned around and road back to Jinja.
    To get to the falls we had to drive along a very dry and dusty road. The dust that was brought up by the taxi was very, very red. As we arrived we could see the rapids in the distance below us. This area was privately held campsite, and we could see in the distance several tents (we were on a hill overlooking the rapids and campsite.) We could also see a number of red coconuts floating down the rapids. After a moment I realized that the coconuts had people in them and that they had helmet on. Then from around a bend in the river, came a raft full of white faces (also with helmets on) and with a mighty push from their paddles, down the rapids they went (paddling very hard.) Despite there efforts though, they tipped over! They looked like they were having fun. The Ugandans on the shore were having fun too, laughing at the crazy Mazungu (who paid a lot to ride down the rapids.)
    After watching for a while, and getting some pictures along the way; we walked up to the little restaurant about 200 meters from the falls. We asked Ronald to join us for lunch, and we all sat at a spot which overlooked the rapids. While we were enjoying our lunch, a bus (I only knew it was a bus, when we returned to the cab) of school children arrived. It seems that it was the local spot to have one’s picture taken. So there were a lot of pictures being taken, and pick-nick lunches being eaten. As we sat there, down by the river we saw a couple of boys (not school boys) hand fishing (casting a line, rather than a fishing pole) with some success. After a while we returned to the car, then back to the hotel. Ashley and I liked the way Ronald drove, so made arrangements with Ronald to take us to Kampala the following day.
    It was a little after two in the afternoon when we got back to our room. After a snooze we went for a “coffee” on the verandah and had a nice chat overlooking Lake Victoria while the sun set.

    posted at: 10:00 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Fri, 13 Aug 2004

    Friday, 2nd of July, 2004. Nakasongola - Kampala.

    While in Nakasongola we saw in a paper that the new Harry Potter film was playing at the Mall we had been to the weekend before; the Garden City Mall. So on the way back to Kampala we decided to go and see the Harry Potter film, as there was only a very slim chance that we would be able to see it in Addis. It would also make a very nice brake from our normal routine. We got to Joyce’s around 5:00 pm and the movie was showing at 5:45 pm. Joyce had a dinner to go to, so we got a cab and shot off to the Mall. When we got there we found that Harry Potter was playing at another theater, so instead we got tickets for Troy (we eventually saw the Harry Potter film when we were in South Africa.) We were at Garden City with enough time for Ashley to have an ice-cream, and for me to have a beer before the movie started. Then, when we were in line to buy popcorn I saw that they also sold beer, so I had another. It was like being in Thailand again. :)
    “Troy” was not bad. It was only loosely based on The Iliad, and as it did not pretend to be the Iliad I quite enjoyed it. It was sort of the Iliad and the Aeneid all rolled into one. The movie was fun.

    Saturday, 3rd of July. Kampala.

    The power went out a Joyce’s house the night before, so we when out for breakfast. Joyce took us to a club called the American Club. It is a club in the sense that it has tennis courts and a swimming pool, not bar, dancing type of club. On the way we stopped to pick up a friend of hers (Helen) along the way. Joyce and Helen were going to buy beads later, while Ashley and I were going to the city center to look and some art shops. Actually we were really going to find an ATM (Cash Point) as our funds were running low, and we were heading to Jinja (on Lake Victoria) the following day.
    The American Club was quite nice, small, but nice. The breakfast was nice, and the bacon was pleasant to have, though it was not quite as soft as I would have liked. After the meal a driver from Save The Children came to pick us up and took us down town. He dropped us off outside the Barclays Bank and drove off. The bank was closed, but there was an ATM (Cash Point), and after an initial rejection of Ashley card (we did not realize it had expired) we were able to withdraw what we needed.
    After wondering around for a while, we found a place that had a number of art shops right around the National Theater. Most of the stuff there was not so good, but we did find a very nice woodcut of a mother and child. I bought a shirt too. In this area there were a number of Indian restaurants, so we stopped at a South Indian place for lunch. Boy that was good and hot food.
    We returned to Joyce’s around 4pm and relaxed. I washed my new shirt, but it had so much starch in it that it needed to be washed a few times. In fact the shirt is still a little stiff, but it is nice. Around 7pm we (Joyce, Ashley and I) went to eat at a Thai restaurant that Joyce knew of. The place was called Sala Thai. It was the first Thai restaurant we had been in; in almost a year. The food was wonderful and the atmosphere went along very nicely with the cuisine. We had Moo Gratiem Pik Thai, Gai Pad By Karpow, and Panang Nua. Then for dessert we had mango ice cream. :) Very nice!
    Sunday, 4th of July, 2004. Kampala – Jinja

    We had a slow morning. Around 11am we went along with Joyce food shopping. Joyce told us that there was a new shopping Mall that had just opened (it was on the road to Jinja, as it turns out) and she wanted to try it out. It took us about ten minuets to get to the center. It was amazing! It was just like a shopping mall in England or America, boy I was stunned! It seemed that you could get just about anything there. From DVDs to pork chops. I must admit, after being in Ethiopia for so long I felt rather stunned. There were also a lot of people, and that may have lent to the feeling I had as well.
    After shopping for a while, or rather watching Joyce shop, we returned to Joyce’s for a late lunch. At two a car and driver were coming to take us to Jinja, which was about two and a half hours from Kampala. Jinja is also on Lake Victoria.
    The trip to Jinja was uneventful; the traffic was not too bad. On the way we passed Sugar Cain plantations and Tea plantations. I had never, that I recall, before seen tea growing, boy what a lovely shade of green. The tea in Uganda is supposed to be the best (that is what they say…). I tried some, but I am no expert, it was certainly was pleasant. I can’t say that for the coffee, boy what a disappointment. Instant coffee is what is generally drunk there. The good stuff is exported. I was told though, that the instant coffee was made of Ugandan coffee. If that it what Ugandan coffee is like I want no part of it!
    In Jinja we had booked a room at the “Hotel Annex.” Unfortunately it was not quite what we were hoping for (especially as there was a skin tax)… The staff were very nice and as helpful as they could be. When it came to dinner, the food was not good either. On the other hand the view from the Hotel was lovely. After dinner, we went to the bar and watched Greece beet Portugal. What a disappointment that was. I would have been nice to see Portugal win on their home turf, but it was not to be. Still I do not expect many people outside of Greece and Portugal ever expected them to reach the finals. Well done.
    In the morning Lake Victoria is alive with the sound of birds, and the angry chatter of bat, trying to go to sleep. The lake seems quite calm, but as the morning heats up then the wind picks up. By 10am the wind is blowing very hard. The wind blows in a continuous westerly direction, towards the opening of the Victoria Nile. In fact you can see the point which the lake merges with the Victoria Nile. Throughout the day and into the night the wind blows, but later on the wind dies down.
    At night on Lake Victoria you can see the lights from the armada of fishermen as they move into position to work there nets. The lights give the lake a quite festive appearance. The fishermen use the lights to attract the fish. It is lovely to see, this is especially so as moon is rising at a much later time, so the nights are currently fairly moonless. Lovely as the lake is at night you have to keep the screens shut (and it is a good idea to have the lights off) because of all of the insects the lights attract. Still it is very nice.
    Dawn is a lovely amber affair which shows the fishing boats returning to shore slowly. The Birds wake up (dawn comes late here, around half past six in the morning) and the bats start to cry again. Another day brakes over Lake Victoria.

    posted at: 04:18 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Sun, 08 Aug 2004

    Monday, 28th of June, 2004. Kampala.

    I went with Ashley and Joyce to the Save office. The office was once a house, and was quite comfortable. The office had two lovely old Rhodesian Ridgeback’ (dogs) that were very sweet and gentle. If I could have taken them to Addis I would have though Yuke and Kelly would not have liked it very much. I spent the time working on some of there computer issues. For lunch we had Chapattis and egg with beans. It was fine, but at least it was not Matokie... That night we went out for Indian food at a restaurant not far from Joyce’s house and had a lovely meal.

    Tuesday, 29th of June, 2004. Kampala – Nakasongola.
    We missed the alarm, and got up half an hour before we were supposed to leave; rush, rush! The truck was coming at 7:00am to collect us; however we were only ten minutes late. Not so bad.
    We arrived in Nakasongola around 9:30 - 10:00am. This time we were to stay in the STC compound in the one guest room that they have available. This is the room which Anu and Shashank had been in the week before. It was much nicer that the “Guest House” down the road. There was an inside loo (swat) that flushes and a shower (cold), just off of our room, but it was a luxury! So very nice I must say.
    That night after locking up the house, we found that other people were also staying there. This we had not realized, so after we had gone to bed I had to get up and let them in. It was rather embarrassing I must admit, but how were we to know.
    The room was comfortable, and the bed was the nicest we had slept in; in the “field” that is.

    Wednesday, 30th of June, 2004. Nakasongola.
    Abraham came down from Kampala, he is now the DAP (Development Activity Program) Manager in Uganda. The morning and afternoon I spent reading and studying. Ashley had been spending her time with the staff of the Health and Agricultural sectors. She was/is helping them come up with ways to improve there Community Educational Programs. Her days have been quite long, but this evening she took a brake. Normally the staff work until 9pm. However this evening Ashley, Abraham and I went to one of the local motels to watch the Portugal vs. Holland football match (Abraham and I also had a couple of beers.) The game started at 9:30pm, and we finely got back to the Save guest house around Midnight. Oh, Portugal beet Holland 2-1, so they are off to the finals.
    I slept like a stone!

    Thursday, 1st of July, 2004 Nakasongola.
    I took some pictures of the Health Education Workers that Ashley was helping, so some of them did not seem too pleased about it others were.
    I the early evening we lost power, so after dinner Ashley and I returned to our room and watched a Monty Python DVD (The Holy Grail”) under the mosquito net.
    “And so to bed.”

    posted at: 08:31 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Fri, 06 Aug 2004

    Friday, 25th of June, 2004. Nakasongola – Kampala.

    The day was quite gray, but there was some exquisite sunlight breaking through the clouds lighting up the trees and other foliage. I went for a short walk around 7am along a dirt road beside the hotel. I saw a magnificent Mango tree (it was massive.)
    We started our return to Kampala around four thirty in the afternoon. The trip was an easy one, and I was able to take some pictures along the way. One of the pictures was of a truck carrying some cattle. There were three men in the back of the truck, and one of them was not too pleased with me having taken pictures of them. Mostly though, people here do not seem to mind.
    The traffic in Kampala was bad, but soon we arrived at Joyce's. After an early dinner we retired for the evening.
    The next day, Joyce was going to Jinja for the day. Joyce was going to an “Introduction” which is a type of wedding in Uganda. Joyce left us with her mobile and gave us the name of a cab driver she knew incase we wanted to get out and about. We had been told by Anu and Joyce of a Mall called Garden City that had a good bookshop. So we decided to go for a “fix.” We called (Ashley did) the cabbie, whose name was Moses and he took us to Garden City (which was about 10 to 15 min away.)
    Garden City was about six stories high and it had a restaurant on the roof. There was also a movie theater (though we did not know it at the time; it was showing Troy) as well as a bowling ally. There were also all of the other types of shops that you would find at such a place (clothing, nick-knacks etc.) We got four books, a map of Uganda, coloured pencils, a notebook, choeklet, decaffeinated tea, and a dress for Ashley (on sale too :) .) We ate at a place that sold pork! I had some lovely pork chops (three large chops) and Ashley had some “stir fried beef with green peppers.” Being in Uganda after being in Ethiopia was like being in another world! Odd!
    Back at the house we read and took it easy.

    posted at: 22:09 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Wed, 04 Aug 2004

    Thursday, 24th of June, 2004. Nakasongola. At breakfast I chatted with Abraham and Anu, and then Ashley and Anu had a meeting to go over the “Base Line Survey” that had been done earlier by the staff at Nakasongola. I returned to the Guest House and studied until lunch, then walked up to the office. I was there for about half an hour when I was told that I was expected at the community center for lunch, so off I went. When I arrived, I saw Anu, Ashley and Abraham. However Anu was on the way back to the office to finish up some work. Later on she, Shashank and Abraham were heading back to Kampala. The next day, (the 25th) Friday, Anu and Shashank were going to return to South Africa, where they were currently living. In the afternoon I spent some time reading and waited for the rain. I also spent the time looking for a black, gray and white bird with a yellow beak. It makes a very distinctive cococo-kakaka sound. So far I have only caught a glimpse of it, and I having a hard time identifying it in the “Birds of East Africa” book we have (this is the first time it has failed us.) It started to rain finely, and it is the sharp stabbing rain that you find in the tropics. The rain lasted for about 10 to 15 min. There was thunder and lightning too, and once the rain was done the foliage was lustrous and green. The air was nice and cool too. Ashley returned to the Guest House around 5:30 pm and we went for a walk to see what the town looked like. The main part of the town (the Guest House was on the edge of the town) was North of the Guest House (also know as the Wamala Hotel, it turns out) and about seven min away. The town is made up of mostly one story buildings and is centered along the main road. There were a few shops that sold house hold items such as blankets, hoses, ropes, nails etc. At least one barber and two “hotels.” I saw one carpenter/cabinet makers shop. They had wooden bed frames, wardrobes and outside the shop there were several carpenters making coffins. Ashley told me making coffins is one of the largest growing businesses in Uganda right now. After a while we stopped at a hotel for some refreshment. The hotel had an enclosed area which allowed us to look out onto the street and watch the people go by and not be seen. This was a nice change. We could hear music being played not far away, and it had rather a Reggie beet; which was quite refreshing from what you get in Ethiopia. Ashley had a sprite and I had a Nile Special (%5.8) Larger. It was not very good, but it was strong. After that I had a Guinness extra stout (just to clear my palate, so to speak). We drank a toast to all of those we know who drank Guinness. This Guinness, by the way, was my first one in Africa. Africa (Nigeria) was also the first place when I recall ever hearing about Guinness (when I was a child.) Looking outside the hotel Ashley spied a man grilling chicken; it had such a great aroma we bought some. This chicken was the best grilled chicken we had had since we came to Africa! Boy it was good. We returned to the S.T.C. office and had dinner and talked with the staff fro a while; then returned to the hotel. After we had been in bed for a while we heard some cheering going on. It was the England vs. Portugal football match. Ashley suggested that I go and watch it, and I wish I had, it sounded marvelous! Apparently Portugal won in penalty overtime. The score was England 2 and Portugal 3. I heard that England had, had one goal disallowed (I am not sure why) during the match. Though I supported England, I am glad that Portugal won on its home turf (I hope that they beet France!) boy what a surprise! Well later on in the morning (around 4am or 5am) there were some “bovines” making a lot of noise out side of the rooms. It did not stop until about 6am; quite rude! I understand that Czechoslovakia beat Germany at football last night, and that the Netherlands did well as well.

    posted at: 09:37 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Sat, 31 Jul 2004

    Wednesday, 23rd of June, 2004. Nakasongola. The morning was productive. I was able to complete some of the things I had been neglecting visa-vie my studies.

    I had lunch with Ashley (the car picked me up) at the local community center. Ashley was conducting her workshop there, and they had lunch brought in. The lunch was similar to the other meals, except that there was fish instead of meat (not my favorite meal.) Ashley returned to the Guest House around 5:30pm, and with her came the children. This time we kept the door open to the room. They were just as loud as before, but they did not try to shove anything into our room this time. They just played outside in the noisy way that children do when there is more then one of them about.

    We went to dinner early. There we met Anu and Abraham, who had just come up from Kampala earlier on in the morning. Anu had her six year old son, Shashank (Shashank is the Hindu name for the Rabbit in the Moon), with her. Anu and Abraham had come up to participate in Ashley’s workshop. Ashley and Anu have known one another since Ashley first joined Save The Children in Washington D.C... Abraham was the head of the program in Negelle Borana, Ethiopia, when Ashley was living in Ethiopia in 2001/2002.

    Dinner was pleasant; we were able to “catch up” with Abraham and Aun. Abraham is now the DAP (Development Activity Program) manager at the “field office” in Kampala. Ashley and I had not seen him in a long time. Anu had also been staying at Joyce’s, and we had also been able to spend some time with her and Shashank a few weeks earlier in Addis.

    After dinner Anu, Ashley and Abraham had a meeting till around 9:30 pm. After that we returned to the Guest House. Fortunately we slept well (no crying children, or rattling of mettle doors.)

    posted at: 00:45 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Thu, 22 Jul 2004

    Tuesday, 22nd of June, 2004. Kampala to Nakasongola. Today we left Kampala for Nakasongola, where Save The Children (U.S.) has their main project in Uganda. Nakasongola is around two and a half hours from Kampala. Leaving Kampala took us a long time due to all of the “jam.” The “jam” is of course a traffic jam. As Kampala is growing at such a fast rate, the physical infrastructure is having a hard time keeping up. The result is the jam. One thing that is good about the jam is that it gave Ashley and I time to look around Kampala as we drove though it. One thing that is different, right off the bat, is that there a lot of bicyclicals moving about the city. This is quite different from Ethiopia, where you see many donkeys and very few bicycles. Mind you, the elevation is at least 3000` foot higher in Addis, and the hills are much steeper (to my eye anyway.) Another thing is how lush the city is, and there are so many birds. Of course there are also a lot of birds in Ethiopia, but most of the birds that I saw in Uganda, seemed to be of the water verity. For instance, just going around one of the (many) round-about's in Kampala; I saw a flock of Glossy Ibises. I have also seen: Weaver birds, White-necked Ravens, Speckled Mouse Birds and Pied Crows (yep, I have a book! :) ) After a while we left Kampala City and headed North on a winding road to Nakasongola. On the road I saw many banana trees. Matokie [spl.?] is one of the diratary staples here, and it is made up of bananas, which are mashed like potatoes. Matokie is not too bad, but after eating it day in and day out I did get tired of it. We also saw a lot of pawpaw (papaya), and corn. On thing that struck me, is that Uganda (outside of the city of Kampala) does not seem to be a densely populated as Ethiopia is. As we drove though the towns along the way most of the houses and shops were made of bricks. This is also different from Ethiopia, where though there are houses outside of the city’s that are made of brick and mortar, most of them are of waddle and daub. It seems that the Ugandans have developed a method of making bricks. The process seems to be that you form the brick out of earth and then let it dry. When the brick are dry they are stacked up in a large square column and the center of this column is hollow. The exterior of this column is then covered in mud, so that none of the bricks are exposed, and they are insolated. Afire is then started in the hollow of the tower, and kept going till all the bricks are baked (I have no real idea how long that might be for.) In this way the bricks act as there own kiln. I thought that was very clever. I was wondering why they do not do something like this in Ethiopia, and the only thing I can think of is that wood may be rather more of a scares resource in Ethiopia. We finely reached Nakasongola sometime before 10am after having stopped to buy some bananas (to make into matokie for lunch it turned out.) We made a right (East) off the road (which was going North) to get to Nakasongola. If we had stayed on the North bound road, it would have carried us to the Sudanese border. Nakasongola is located (as it turns out) about 10 miles from Lake Kyoga. Lake Kyoga has a place in the Nile system. Its place in the grand scheme of the Nile flows like this. Lake Victoria is the source of what becomes the White Nile. Lake Victoria feeds the Victoria Nile which starts at Jinja. Jinja is on lake Victoria. The Victoria Nile feeds into Lake Kyoga (North of Lake Victoria), and still as the Victoria Nile feeds into Lake Albert. The Nile leaves as the Albert Nile where it continues North to Sudan where it becomes the White Nile. Later in Khartoum (Sudan) it joins the Blue Nile which starts at Lake Tanna at Barhardar Ethiopia. At Khartoum the White Nile and the Blue Nile become the Nile. Ashley and I were to stay at a local guest house just on the outskirts of Nakasongola. It was pretty basic, but clean. I was deposited at there, and Ashley beetled off to work. After an hour or so, once I had, had time to get used to my surroundings. I decided to go to the office, which was about five min walk from the guest house, when a car came to pick me up for lunch. It was very nice of them to do that, but I did feel a little ridiculous, and for me that is saying something too. At this point I was able to meet most of the staff. They were a very nice group of people, and they made me feel most welcome. Lunch was quite tasty. It consisted of (yes) matokie, boiled potatoes (called “Irish Potatoes”), red beans and rice. This was pretty much the standard for lunch and dinner. Sometimes there would be some beef or fish as well. After lunch I returned to the guest house and read, until Ashley returned around 5:30 pm. Ashley was followed by a clot of children that she had passed at the top of the road, which is about 100 meters away from the gate of the Guest House. The oldest of them may have been seven years old. As I had the door to the room open (to keep the air circulating) I shut it after she came in hoping in vain I suppose that they would go away. No such luck, in fact it may have made it worse. The kept calling, singing and saying “you,” “you,” “you” and such like. The children also found it very amusing to shove twigs and small rocks under the door. All in all rather annoying…. Not knowing how children were dealt with there we did not really want to do anything that might be misconstrued as “mazungu” (foreigner) abuse of children. We thought it better to wait until we joined the rest of the staff for dinner. Yes, the Save the Children staff live and work at the same place! I am not sure how productive that really is. At around 6:30 we went around to the front of the Guest House and had some drinks in the “café.” Ashley drank a sprite and I had a Club Beer and some other type (they were both larger.) Each of them was 500ml and neither of them was any good at all. Dinner was at 8pm and it was made up of matokie, cassava and beans. After dinner we stayed around for a while and then went back to the Guest House quite tired. Around 11pm some child started to cry and some other person was hitting a mettle door. This went on for a long time. Boy what a night! Welcome to Nakasongola! :)

    posted at: 10:16 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Sat, 17 Jul 2004

    Sunday, 20th June, 2004. Kampala, Uganda. We got to the airport without incident, and we were even able to tow seats together on the plane. This despite, the large amount of transit passengers who were also on the flight. Passport control was a breeze, and there was even enough time to have a good look at all of the duty free stuff in the departure lounge. The airport in Addis is a new and quite fine establishment, and puts Frankfort airport to shame (not hard to do.) In one of the shops we picked up some kolo, which is grain that has been toasted and is eaten as a snack here. We were going to meet several people in Uganda, who had either been in Ethiopia, or were from Ethiopia. We thought that the kolo would make pleasant gifts. After looking around for a while and having some coffee (little did I know that, that coffee would be the last good/reasonable coffee I would have for almost three weeks) to drink, we went though to the waiting area. Soon the flight was called, and as we were some of the first to squeeze through the crush (lines are a novelty here) we soon were in our seats. Not long after being seated another passenger informs me that I am in his seat… fun, fun. Well soon the stewardess arrives and puts the gentleman in another seat, and we are off. The flight to Uganda was not a direct one, and the plane lands in Kenya (Nairobi). At this point most of the other passengers leave. After about half an hour, a few new passengers board and we are off to Uganda. Shortly after leaving Nairobi we are landing in Uganda (Entebbe). As we land we could see Lake Victoria on the edge of the airport. Boy what a lovely sight. After we get though passport control, pick up our bags and trundle thought customs; we are met by a driver from Save The Children. After we changed some money at the airport “4ex” (foreign exchange – don’t you love jargon) we headed to Kampala. Entebbe is around 50 min from Kampala if the “jam” is not too bad. On the road I noticed that there were many mini buses, which acted as a taxi service. The drivers of these mini buses seem to have gone to the same driving school as the mini bus drivers in Addis went too. Along the way we saw lots of single storey buildings, most of them were made from brick. I also saw quite a number of colonial era buildings. There were also a fair share of multiple storey buildings too. On top of one five or six storey building I saw a couple of Marabou storks walking along the edge of the foundation of the roof. Another thing I saw a lot of were bicycles. Ashley saw one man with four or five trays of eggs on the back of one bicycle! One thing that struck me was the amount of activity going on. There were many shops and many vendors on the sides of the road selling fruit, phone cards etc. In and amongst all of this were chickens, goats and the occasional dog milling around. As we approached Kampala I could see that it was a city with a lot of twists and turns. Not many straight roads; at least that is the way it seemed. Mind you Kampala is located amongst and surrounded by many hills. As we drove along, we saw many children in school uniforms. The uniforms were not just of one type (as in some places) but of many different colours and patterns. Kampala was now on the horizon, well it seemed hard to tell where it began really, but the city center was now in view, and boy what a lot of tall buildings there were. Addis dose not have many big (over 12 stories) buildings, so this was quite a site. The city seemed a lot more together then what we were used too. Though that being said there was a fair amount of squalor and bumpy dirt roads too. The driver did not take us though the city center, but around it. He was taking us to Joyce’s house where we were to stay. Joyce is the head of Save the Children (U.S.) in Uganda. Joyce and Ashley knew one another in Washington D. C. so it was nice for me to meet her. Joyce has two lovely cats (William and Scred) and a dog (Jasmine). Joyce’s house is lovely and is located on “Tank Hill” (has nothing to do with the military, but is where the local water tanks are) over looks Lake Victoria, very nice.

    posted at: 00:59 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Thu, 17 Jun 2004

    5th of May, 2004. Awasa to Negelle Borana (Day eight of the Great Rift Valley Trip) Rainy Season. I was up at six and went down for breakfast at seven. Jatani was checking the car before our trip back to Negelle so we eat together. I had bread, coffee and a glass of mango juice. Boy the mango juice was good. Jason, Jatani and I sat around for a while relaxing before our very bumpy ride back to Negelle. Tarekegn and Sinshat went out for a traditional breakfast, while Did had something on the run (as it were.) On the way out of Awasa Did wanted to stop at one of the colleges in the hope that he could meet briefly with one of the professors to get some information. No luck though, actually the fifth was a holiday… :) We finely left Awasa around 09:30. We spent the first three quarters of an hour enjoying the “smooth” road, after that it was bumpy all the way to Negelle. After a couple of hours we reached Bore and stopped for coffee. This was also the town where people like to buy butter and kolo (which is a type of grain that has been roasted and is eaten as a snack.) This took about 45 min, and then we were off. We kept going until we reached Kibre Mengist, and at this point we had lunch. The journey was uneventful, and we were all ready to get “home.” We finely reached Negelle Borana around 4:30. When Jason and I got back to his house, where Ashley and I were staying while we were in Negelle, we found that Ashley was planning to make us Thai food for dinner. Boy what a treat that was after all that grilled meat! However I must say it was an excellent trip, I learned a lot and met many wonderful people. Ethiopia is a lovely country!

    posted at: 10:34 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    4th of May, 2004. Yaballow to Awasa (Day seven of the Great Rift Valley Trip) Rainy Season. Well on this day we were returning to Awasa, which is the first leg of the journey back to Negelle. It was alternately cloudy and sunny. We planned on leaving the hotel around 8am. I got up early as usual, and soon I was sitting under the acacia tree that the weaver birds were living in (I was hoping to get some coffee before starting out.) Shortly Jatani, the other early riser showed up, and we sat there enjoying the early morn. After the coffee and tea (chai), Jatani drank tea in the morning, had been consumed I returned to my room to pack the few things I had. When I got back to the Acacia tree where the table was; I saw that Jatani had disappeared, and in his stead was a boy of fourteen or so. I sat down, my books were still on the table, and said hello to the young man and after some rudimentary attempts a conversation, started to read. It turned out that his name was Berhanu, and that he wanders from place to place rather like a gipsy. Jatani had met Berhanu on an earlier trip, and offered him a lift. Finely we were all assembled so I returned to my room to get my belongings and return my key. On returning to the table I found the others had already gone to the car, and left the young man behind to tell me so. About this time a waiter comes up to me and mutters about the bill from last night, which I paid (the night before.) So I go with him to the bar, that is were the cashier is, and looked at the bill, and it was the same one I had paid. I could not believe that they were trying to stick me with a bill twice. This was rather unusual, people in Ethiopia are generally honest, and so I was shocked and indigent. I told them that I had paid it already and walked off to the car. When I got outside the young man went a head of me, and some what to my surprise he tried to tell me where (what part of the road to walk on –it was muddy). I have noticed that some of the people here tend to treat foreigners ether as invalids or as an idiots, this was such a case. It was done to be helpful, but it was very annoying. I arrived at the Land Cruiser while it was being checked over for the journey to Awasa. Thinking over what had just happened to me visa vie the bill, I talked to Did, and asked him to return with me, so I could find out just what was going on. It turns out that they had forgotten to add a plate of chips to the bill from the night before…. I paid the balance, but told them that they should be sure to include everything in the bill in future, and that it was not a good way to get people to come back to the hotel. We parted on good terms though. On the road again; we dropped Berhanu off at a village called Suruphaa which was about 35 kilometers from Yaballow. Along the way we passed a lot of standing water. In fact some of the roads and fields were flooded. We passed several herds of camels, and I noticed that many of them had mud on their humps. Tarekegn, who is a vet, told me that the herders put mud on the camels to repel ticks and flees. After about 70 kilometers we reached Kilkelly to find that the road is washed out, and a number of trucks stuck. A tractor had been brought in to pull them out of the mud. There was a line of vehicles that were lined up to be pulled across in turn. Jatani stopped the Land Cruiser and surveyed the seen, he put the car into four wheel drive, and with out waiting for the tractor drove forward. There were a number of people who wanted us to wait for the tractor, none of us by the by, and on we went. There was quite a steep incline at the bank, but on we went. Passed a truck full of horses, and a fair number of people (mostly boys) flogging cigarettes, sweets, tissue paper etc to the people stuck in their cars, or those who were waiting to be towed across. Down we went, and Jatani using great skill forded the river of mud unaided. As we drove over the rolling plane I could see the shapes of large clouds casting shadows zebra like over the land (it was quite lovely to see.) This road took us to Haramarium (or in Oromo Bule Hora) where we stopped to make a phone call to the office in Negelle. The only place that we could do this was at the local telecomm office. So while Tarekegn tried to get through to the office, Did went off to get some information and Jatani, Jason and I sat in the car. As I sat there, I took the opportunity to watch some skilled labors build a waddle and dub extension to a house. It was quite interesting to see the method. They mixed mud with straw (rather biblical) by foot, and then they would turn it over using a shovel. One of the workers would go though the mixed mud and straw removing any hard pieces, such as stone or hard earth. The mixture was then placed (using hands, and then a trowel) on a wood lattice structure which was to be come the wall. After a while Tarekegn came back; he did not have any luck getting through, and when Did returned to the Land Cruiser we went off for some coffee at the Haramarium Hotel. After we had finished with our coffee and were on the road; the topography changed. The road was starting to climb again. We drove through mountain passes, and around the sides of mountains. I recall looking into a gorge and seeing at the bottom of it men and woman doing there laundry. They had strewn around and about their clothing to dry. Here and there the laundry lay looking like lots of very large colourful flowers in the sunshine. I wish I could have taken a picture of it. As we drove on, we came to an area where there seemed to be more people selling fruit then there normally are. It seems that it was a district known for its fruit. We pulled over to the side of the road and were swamped by fruit sellers. Jatani spent a while bargaining for a good price then he and Did brought pineapples and oranges. Jatani and Tarekegn also purchased several balsawood stools. On again we went, and I now noticed that there were many more people on the sides of the road trying to sell things the closer we got to Awasa. We arrived in Awasa around 2:30 in the afternoon and went to the Pina Hotel (I stayed in room 55). Later on I found that the toilet leaked (fortunately it was only the water feeding into the tank) so flour was constantly wet, rather annoying really, but it was only for one night. After relaxing for a little while, I met Tarekegn and Jason in the small lobby of the hotel. We had decided to go for a little walk and stretch our legs, so off we went. Our destination was Lake Awasa, which is around a kilometer from the hotel. The walk was an easy one, and we were soon there. The lake is lovely and large, some people say that there are hippos in it, but if there are we did not see any. We saw a lot of birds though. There is one type of bird that I always look for there, and that is a very small kingfisher called a Malachite Kingfisher. Its body and wings are a vivid shiny blue, it almost looks metallic. We swaned around the edge of the lake, and then moved on. Though there was still plenty of time, I needed to be back at the Hotel by 6:30pm for a call from Ashley. Tarekegn and Jason wanted to walk to the Cosmos Hotel to see what it was like. We were not quite sure where it was, but we had a vague idea, so off we went. On the way we passed a number of compounds that had large trees in them. In these trees we would see various types of birds. Among those birds there were large storks, the Thick-Billed Raven (it has a large white spot on the back of its head) and even some African Fish Eagles. On we walked, but it soon became apparent that the Cosmos Hotel was a lot farther away then we had originally suspected, so we decided to return to the Pina. When we got back, Tarekegn said that Sinshat, his significant other, was coming down from Addis, and that they were going out for dinner. I had not really wanted to do anything anyway, and I was going to wait for the call from Ashley who was in Negelle. So I went to my room. Around 7:30 I still had not heard from her (apparently the lines were down), and there was a knock on the door. Jason and Did wanted me to go to dinner. Off we went, but we did not go far as it was starting to rain. This was a pity as there was supposed to be a lunar eclipse that I hope to see, but now was not to be. So we went to the restaurant next door to the hotel. I had an early night.

    posted at: 07:14 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Wed, 16 Jun 2004

    3rd May, 2004. Yaballow –The Borena - Sidamo border - (Day six of the Great Rift Valley Trip) Rainy Season. I was up early, and went out to sit near to the Weaver bird tree. The hens’ are a brownish colour, and the eggs of the Weaver birds (there were several on the ground from the hatchlings) were of a light blue. The male Weaver bird on the other hand has yellow body with yellow-greenish wings (quite pretty.) The nests of the Weaver birds were a tear drop shape, but a rather fat tear drop. The nests (which are constructed with dry grass) hang down off of the branches, and are attached to the branches by strands of grass. The birds enter their nests from the bottom of the nest. We had arranged with Dr. Abay Bekele of CARE to meet with two of his vets, and go to visit a site where one of his Community Animal Health Worker (CAHW pronounced “cow”) lived and worked. The village is in a region called Obe. So we were up and on the road by eight o’clock. While we were getting diesel for the Land Curser, two of the waitresses from the hotel asked if we could give them a lift into town, so we did. As we pulled out of the petrol station to head towards Yaballow town (we were staying about three kilometers outside of the town) we were pulled over by the police, and the car was searched. Now Jatani still had all of the things he brought in Kenya in the back (mat rice, two water barrels, a large container of soap, tea and so on). When the police saw this they started to give Jatani a hard time, and they confiscate the lot. The told Jatani, as well as Tarekegn and Did who both went to help, that they had to come back in the afternoon and talk to the chief of the police at that station. Jason, the two woman and I kept a low profile in the Land Curser. After about 20 min. the three of them came back and got into the car. It seems that certain elements wanted a bribe but Jatani, Did and Tarekegn were not going to pay it (if possible). Thus we drove off and went to Yaballow leaving Jatani’s things behind. On the way to the town I noticed for the first time, which was odd as we had by now been back and forth to Yaballow a few times, that a fair number of the houses had turf roofs. These roofs looked very nice and green, but I understand that only the very poor use this form of roofing. Still it looked nice. We got to Yaballow, dropped off the two waitresses, and met the Vets at Taklee’s Meat House. Then off we went to “the field.” We drove for about 45 min to an hour over unpaved roads, and then we made a right hand turn and went into the bush. The unpaved road had been bumpy, but this was really bumpy. We drove for about another 20 min. than we came to a small village of about fifteen huts. This village is in a lovely region surrounded by mountains, all very green this time of year. Most of the Tukels (huts) were about the same size (about 15 feet across) and were made of branches (around the sides) and with grass roofs. There were also much smaller tukels which were on stilts (about 3 foot off the ground), which Jatani told me were the kids where kept at night (so the wild animals did not get them.) On regret that I do have is that I did not get the name of the CAHW who we visited. The interview was done under the shade of a large tree. As we were sitting there a number of goats and kids were ambling about us, and a couple of them kept going up to Did’s back and nibbling his belt loop! Boy I had such a hard time not laughing. While we were talking many of the villagers came and listened to the goings on, so I was able to get a number of pictures of them. We were at the village for about an hour, and then we had to return to Yaballow. There was the little matter of the confiscated items to deal with. On the return journey I saw a lovely reddish black fox, it was beautiful. Well I thought it was a fox, but one of the vets told me that in fact it was a jackal and not a fox. After dropping off the two vets in Yaballow we returned to the hotel. Jatani, Tarekegn and I wanted to make phone calls. There was only one phone at the hotel, and the place where it was located was at the hotel shop. The shop closed at 5pm if there were not any customers. So we hurried, but we need not have. There was already someone there making a call. Jatani decided to hold off until a later date, so Tarekegn and I stood around and waited our turn. By now the rains had started again, but fortunately there was an awning for us to wait under. It was raining rather hard by the time I was able to place my call. The gentleman who had placed before me was now standing under the awning waiting for the rain to stop, and he fell into a conversation with Tarekegn. I was still trying to get through to Negelle Borana, but without much luck. It seems that there were some problems with the phone lines in Negelle. I gave up and now Tarekegn had a go. I hung around for the rain to die down a little and then ran off to the restaurant verandah for a coffee. A couple of hours later (we had all disappeared into our rooms), I meet Tarekegn and asked him what was going to happen with the goods that the police where holding. He told me that it was all resolved, with out any things “changing hands.” It seems that the person, whom he had been talking to, while we were standing under the awning, was the Chief of Police. The Chief of Police had asked Tarekegn how things were going and were there any problems (very nicely). So Tarekegn explained about the problem with the confiscated items. To cut a long story short, the Chief of Police, said that there was a lot of problems with smugglers in this area, but that he would take care of the problem (and he did.) Though I did hear that the real issue why we were stopped was not for smuggling, but was because one of the policemen had tried (unsuccessfully) to pick up one of the two waitresses who we gave a lift too that morning… :), and he was upset that they went with us instead.

    posted at: 07:32 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Mon, 07 Jun 2004

    2nd May, 2004. Yaballow –The Borena - Sidamo border - (Day five of the Great Rift Valley Trip) Rainy Season. I was up at 6am, and had a hot shower. It is the simple pleasures that really make a difference. I then went to find coffee, given that the hotel dose not really have anything available until 8am; I knew it was a long shot. The staff were still cleaning the veranda and the compound, so I sat in the bar till they had finished. Once outside, watching the land about me I saw Blackbirds that had reddish brown colouring on the tips of their wings and tail feathers. They were very pretty birds. It was still quite cold, but the land all about was green and luscious. The mountains in the South and West (behind the hotel) were mostly covered in clouds. I could hear the roughing of the river to the South of the hotel, about 300 meters away (there had been a hard rain last night). The staff of the hotel were able to make some coffee for me, before they normally would have it, which was very nice of them. So I sat on the veranda and drank my coffee, read a little. From time to time, someone leading a camel would pass by; all along there was a lovely twittering of birds. As it was Sunday, we let the day develop as it would. By the time lunch came around we decided to head into Yaballow for a bite. On the way into Yaballow I learned that if a person has a residence that is not a shop or restaurant, but they have food for sale; they hang a red cloth outside of their house. The red cloth apparently is a “universal” sign that food may purchased here. Well we got into town, and ended up at Taklee’s Meat House, as usual, and had tibbs. The thing is that Taklee’s is the best place to eat in town, and the food (if you ask them too) is well cooked. Having had dysentery, I did not really want to have it again, so it was nice to eat at a place that was dependable. After a longish lunch we returned to the hotel, and it rained all afternoon. Standing on the hotel veranda looking off into the distance (North East –left-) I could see a forest of rich green trees with large steel gray clouds above them. It was lovely to see, as the clouds were quite ragged, and the ragged parts of the clouds came down above the trees like fingers. They just seemed to be brushing the tops of the trees. As the land here about was quite heavy with rain, this is creating trouble for a lot of the trucks going to Addis Ababa. I learned from Tarekegn that the road back to Awasa was washed out. According to Jason, my room was the only one with hot water. :)

    posted at: 10:17 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Sat, 05 Jun 2004

    1st May, 2004. Return to Yaballow –The Borena - Sidamo border - (Day four of the Great Rift Valley Trip) Rainy Season. It was cool and foggy at 6:45am when we left Moyale on the return trip to Yaballow. There were thunder clouds over the mountains on the horizon. On the huge plateau we saw a couple of Antelope and flocks of the Blue Quail. We stopped in Mega for some coffee. When we left, we drove through Madhacho which is a region known for its Acacia gum trees. By now we had reached Dubaluk, and we stopped here so that Did could visit his mother, she had not been in when we passed by on the way to Moyale. We dropped Did off, and went to the Hotel Borena to wait for him. Hoping that we could get some coffee there, we called the waiter only to find that they did not have any coffee… We went else where. As it turns out we had to go almost to the edge of “town.” That was about 200 meters from the Hotel Borena, to find a place that had coffee. The establishment was just a simple shack that had some stools for the customers to sit on. There did not seem to be many people there, maybe seven including the four of us. While we sat there waiting for Did, and drinking our coffee; a lorry pulled up. In Ethiopia it is not unusual to see lorries with a back full of people. This is a popular form of transportation. Often the trucks will have a bar running down the center of it at shoulder height so that the occupants may have something to hold on to. Well, this lorry had a few people in it, but what caught my eye, were the chickens that were hanging upside down off the side of the truck. I was just able to get a picture of it as the lorry moved on towards Moyale. At this point another truck pulled up, and a lot of people got off. Mostly they were standing around, but some went into the shop for some chai (tea) or Buna (coffee). There were still some people standing on the truck, and one woman from the truck was joking with us; mainly Jason and me as we were obviously foreigner. Having my camera out, I lifted my camera as if to take a picture, holding the box only up to my chest. Well she was not so sure about that, and her joking started to get a little more serious, still in a joking manner though. Finely she was sort of convinced that I had not taken a picture. I then noticed the odd shape of a lot of the people that had come off of the truck. They were all very heavy, in a flat kind of way. It turns out that they were clothing smugglers, and they wore all the clothes that they were smuggling. They also smuggled soap, and other small items (I understand). Well they too got back onto their lorry and headed off towards Yaballow, and we went back to the Land Cruiser, which was at the Hotel Borena to wait for Did. Did returned shortly, but unfortunately he had not been able to see his mother, there was a mix up in the communication, and she was out. Off we went heading to Yaballow. Along the way we reached Chichale Yatu. Chichale Yatu is an area where one of the projects that Did worked on before working for Save the Children (U.S.). Though he had never been to the project site, he very much wanted to see it. The site was a spring, which Oxpham (U.S.) had provided support for. The spring was off road, but Did talked to the locals and was told it was not far away. Did persuaded one of the local teenagers to get into the car and show us the way. Well the “road” was extremely rutted due to the rains, and really only a narrow path in parts, so we were going against bush part of the way. The short distance that we were told it was, turned out to be forty min one way. It was now raining on and off. We drove around the base of at least two mountains before we arrived in the valley where the spring was, and boy was it bumpy trip! The valley was lovely! The spring itself was in the mountains, and we were not shod appropriately to leg up to see it. We were able to see the collection points. It is at these points that the pastoralists bring there livestock to drink. All around us there were mountain peaks, and most of the mountains were covered in clouds. It was wonderful. I wish we had had more time, but we needed to get to Yaballow, and it was starting to rain again. The way back was fun. Much of the “road” was in fact a river bed, and now it was starting to flow with rain water. Fun fun! After a lot of swishing back and forth and nearly getting stuck several times we reach the road. Dropping off our guide we headed on to Yaballow. Arriving in Yaballow at almost 2pm, we went to Taklee’s meat house for some tibbs. While we were there we met some friends of Tarekegn’s, he had been to school with them. Then after we had lunch, Jason, Did and Tarekegn had a meeting with CARE Yaballow and I tagged along with them. Later in the afternoon we got together with Abay, a friend of Tarekegn’s, and had a few beers. Jason and I had dinner at the Yaballow hotel (I had room #6 again) we were tired of tibbs. The others went back into town to have more traditional food. When they returned Jason and Tarekegn had a rematch at pool. Jason beet Tarekegn three times then they stopped. At this point I went to my room, and had a nice hot shower, and then went to bed.

    posted at: 00:11 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Wed, 26 May 2004

    30th April, 2004, Ethiopian Moyale and Kenyan Moyale –The Borena region - (Day three of the Great Rift Valley Trip) Rainy Season. Getting into Kenya was not a problem. We parked the land cruiser across from the immigration control “office,” it was just a kiosk, and Jason and I left some form of id with the police. Tarekegn, Did and Jatani did not have to leave anything at all. So we went across the bridge (the border was a river.) We went past some rather aggressive looking donkeys, and then we were in Kenya. Simple. The road from the border into Kenya was a nice concrete road. The border guards on the Kenyan side were nice, and smiled as we went by. Once we had move beound the government structures, the road went from being a nice concrete road, to a rutted dirt road. It was not quite what I had expected. Anyway, we were walking about, and I thought it was just in some aimless way, but I was wrong. It seems that one of our friends in Negelle had asked us to pick up some shoes for him. So we were heading for the market… It was odd to see most of the signs were now in English, having come from an area where most of the signs were in Ahfan Oromo [spl?] The section of Kenyan Moyale where the market was, was in the Moslem part of town, and as it was Friday (lunch time), most of the people were now at the mosque praying. Thus the market was strangely empty. The area that we came too first was the fabric section. I had been looking for a new sarong (the sarongs that I had brought with me when I left home, were just about warn out.) so this was a great opportunity. I found a lovely blue checked cotton sarong, made in Indonesia, though by and large, most of the fabric there was synthetic. Something I did come to notice, is that most of the “stalls (no more than a platform that was waist high, with boxes underneath that could be padlocked up at night, and some type of walls that they could hang things off of. They would sit on the platforms and sell there items from there.) sold the same things. Not only the same brands, but same items and the same types of cloth. Jatani, who has three wives (he is a Borena elder), was looking for things for one of his wives who had just (two days before) given birth. So he picked up all sorts of items. As this area did not have the shoes, we moved on to another area. Of course by this time we had mostly split up, so it took a little time for us to gather again. So slowly we moved on again. We must have spent three and a half hours looking for shoes. There was something odd about the place where we were looking for the shoes, and at first I could not put my finger on it. I finely “twigged”; almost all of the items were second hand. Shoes, jackets, trousers, belts etc., were all second hand. It almost seemed like all of the clothing had fallen off a truck carrying aid to refugees. Of course I do not know that. So after several hours of shopping, Jatani brought a thermos, two large plastic rain barrels, a matrice and several other things. He hired two boys to carry his loot for him, and off we went. After a little harassment by some teenage boys (Jason and I stood out like sore thumbs,) there was no problem though, for one thing there were a lot of policemen around, and for another thing Jatani is rather large.. :) we got to the border. However, it was not the way we had entered into Kenya, and I must say I did not feel too comfortable with that. Well we were not the only people going that way (there was a whole throng,) and then there was an official marker delineating the border. (I have a picture of it on my website if you care to take a look.) So I figured it was alright. Up on the Ethiopian side of the border we went. We were all quite tired by now. Well as we scampered up the other side, we saw sitting under the shad of a tree, a couple of men, not in any type of uniform, holding Kalashnikov submachine guns. They were very interested in us. That is to say Jason and me… They wanted our passports, which we did not want to give them. If we had we probably would never have seen them again, so we said that we had left them at the kiosk. They were not pleased. I found out later that they wanted a bribe… Anyway, Tarekegn and Did were very well placed, and Jatani was a Boren Elder, and we were in Borena… they let us go without exchanging cash. When we got back to the kiosk, they asked us why we came back that way, and we told them that we were just following the boys who were carrying Jatani’s purchases. These uniformed guards were very pleasant I might add, and did not harass us at all. Oh, we did not find any shoes that were suitable. Now we were tired and hungry, so off we went to eat. We went to a little “Hotel” and had (guess what) Tibbs of course! The room that we ate in had orange tarps as well as blue and gray curtains hanging on the walls. The orange tarps really made the room light up. Otherwise it would have been very dark in there. On the outside of that building, the hotel owners had hung patterned fabric on the outside of the waddle and daub building. The fabric was a reddish colour with a leaf pattern. We decided, at lunch, that if we could get all of the things done that we had planned to do in Moyale; we were going to try to go back to Yaballow that evening. As it turned out, we were unable to finish the meetings in time to make it back to Yaballow that evening. We took rooms for that night at the Bekele Molla Hotel. The Bekele Molla hotels are to be found all over (I understand) Ethiopia. It was not bad; the rooms have their own shower and toilet. The bathrooms do not have toilet seats; I asked the others in the group the condition of their bathrooms. The hotel people were very pleasant. After we had settled in I went to the hotel office to see if I could make a phone call to Negelle, only to find that the phone had been disconnected. That was a bit of a disappointment, but Jason told me that the local telecom was just up the road. Tarekegn, Jatani and I all had to make calls, so we decided to stop there on the way to dinner. So Jason, Tarekegn and I went and sat on the veranda, while Did and Jatani went to visit some of the people that they knew in Moyale. Jason and I enjoyed a couple of bottles of beer; while Tarekegn had a “spris,” which in this case was beer, coca-cola and ambo (mineral water.) I cannot imagine what that tasted like, but he seemed to like it. After we had been sitting there for a while, a group of Borenas’ went into the dining room, which was just behind us. We greeted them, and they smiled and responded in kind. Around this time Did and Jatani returned, and came to join us. They went though the other entrance, which was at the other end dining room. I happened to be looking through the window (no glass, just shutters), and I heard “Yo ya, Yo, ya” which is a traditional Borena greeting. It seems that a number of the group in the dining room knew Jatani! It was dark by now, so we left to get something to eat (and to make our phone calls.) We arrived a telecom (which was down hill from the hotel), only to find that the phone were not working. These phones were outside the telecom building. That is the one would normal make a call at telecom. I was a disappointment, so we went off to eat. The meal was pleasant, and it was not Tibbs, but “Sacundo” [spl.?], which a combination of meat, rice, chills (not hot) and raffoo (cabbage like greens) which is eaten with injera. Returning to the hotel was all up hill. On the way we stopped at some shops to pick up a couple of things, and to see if we could make a phone call using a third party phone. Again there we were unable to get though, but this time is was not the phone, but the lines in Negelle which were the problem. Well we could not do any thing about that, so we returned to the hotel. We had to get up early the next day to get to a meeting in Yaballow by 1pm. As we walked up to the hotel, we were looking at the stars, boy were they lovely and bright. We pointed out to one another the different constellations that our respective cultures have.

    posted at: 03:08 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Sat, 22 May 2004

    30th April, 2004. Yaballow to Moyale –The Borena region - (Day three of the Great Rift Valley Trip) Rainy Season. We left Yaballow for Moyale at around 7 am. On the way we passed by a road which would take us back to Negelle Borena. (In fact if we did go that way home (to Negelle) it would be a lot shorter, but the only problem with it is that it is often mined! Not so good.) One of the many things that is nice about being on the road, relatively early in the morning, is that you come across a lot of birds that you would otherwise miss. For instance I saw many blue gray Ginny fowl running hither and thither. Though they are not flightless, I had a hard time seeing how they could fly. They did though. We also saw an Abyssinian Fox, which had a lovely golden brown and black coat. There was also a Greater Kudu, which is related to the antelope. Very nice. We drove through Dubaluk (apparently this is in the State of Dulu, which I also cannot find on the map), which is the town that Did comes from. Dubaluk is not on my map. There was a lot of activity in Dubaluk as it was market day. Unfortunately we could not stop because we were supposed to meet someone at Mega, a town which is on the map… At this point the terrain is starting to rise, and the great plains are turning an emerald green. There are great banks of mountains south, east and west of us, and we are heading south. I could see clouds on the mountains that we were heading towards. Around us there were lots of marvelous acacia trees. We drove up into the mountains to the clouds and mist. In one part of the mountain range, there were the remains of Italian (to the north) and British (to the south) military encampments. One facing in the distance the other. Apparently once upon the time, they used to entertain one another that was until war was declared. Due to the bad communications, the Italians had not heard that war had been declared and came over to the British camp for lunch (as was the standing arrangement) they were then made captive. This at least is the local folk tail. The area was wonderful, but because we were in the clouds it was hard to see the road, much less any trucks that may be heading our way. We arrive at Mega around 8am, and it is raining very hard. We were going to meet with Dr. Mulu Nura who works with CARE in Mega, but we are early, so we got to his house (Did is a good friend of Mulu’s). The house is off of the main road, and only the main road is tar-macked. Did I mention that it was raining. Well we headed off to Mulu’s house, which was not far from the main road at all. Did asked one of Mulu’s servants to go and get him. After about 10 min. he comes out, it is raining cats and dogs now, gets into the car, and despite his umbrella he is mostly soaked . Mulu had not even had his breakfast yet. So we head off to CARE’s office, only to get stuck in the mud. Now this car is a large 4 wheel drive beast, and is very powerful. For a while it looked like we were all going to have to get out and push, but thanks to Jatani’s great skill we did not have too. Boy that would have been a mess. When we get back to the main road Mulu points out that the office would not be open yet, so off we go to get coffee. So there we were sitting in a shack having coffee while the rain was pouring down outside. Because of the rain it was also cold, so the owners of the coffee house provided charcoal braziers to keep is warm. Unfortunately, we passed by some “deep water wells” along the way. There was not enough time, and as I said it was raining very hard. One thing that is interesting about these wells, is that they are about 12 people deep. They have long ladders on which people stand, and hand up buckets of water so that the troughs on the surface can be filled. In 2001 when I was here, Ashley and I went to some of the “singing wells” which are near Negelle. There they had six to eight people passing water containers up. By now we were starting to reach an area where there had not been much rain, and it looked a little ragged. I noticed that most of the ant hills, which can reach 3.5 meters, were white. This is odd to me, as all of the ant hills I had seen (I am interested in ant hills) so far in all of my travels around Southern and Southeastern Ethiopia were red. I thought that it might be because of the lack of rain, but there had been rain, just not a lot of it. I must have been just the composition of the soil. After a few kilometers the ant hills were red again… At this point I started to see camels again. They are lovely animals. I also noticed that there were woman gathering at the side of the road with plastic containers. I was told by Tarekegn that the woman were selling milk. It seems there is a truck that comes by each day and buys the milk from them and takes it to Moyale. I do not know if the milk was camel or cow milk. Around this area, Tuka, there were dwellings that looked like 1.5 meter bee hives. It seems that they are the houses of nomadic (I think) Somalis. In Amharic these types of huts are called Goojoo. About this time, as we were getting closer to the Ethiopian and Kenyan border, we saw much more military activity then we had since leaving Negelle. One truck had “donated by UNICEFF” written on it. Finely we reach Moyale around 10:30 am. The first thing we did in Moyale was to go and have breakfast. We dined at a Hotel called the Ethio-Kenyan Hotel. Apparently it is in the Lonely Planet Guide book, but I have not checked… I just had coffee and bread, Jason had Resesh with honey. It was not bad. Did had ground meat with scrambled eggs mixed together. Tarekegn had a dish that was called “fool.” In fact his dish was called “supreme fool.” Jatani, as I recall just had tea. By the time we finished “brunch” it was almost noon, so we would not be able to meet any of the NGO’s that Tarekegn, Jason and Did wanted to see, so we decided, after much discussion to go over to Kenya.

    posted at: 06:33 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Mon, 17 May 2004

    29th April, 2004. Awasa to Yaballow –The Sidamo reigon - (Day two of the Great Rift Valley Trip) Rainy Season. It was around 06:30 when I got up, and was eating breaky by 7:15. I had breakfast on the veranda of the restaurant. You should see how lovely the morning light is in Awasa. It is wonderfully soft and warm. As I was eating a black and brown bird kept coming to my table to share my toast, it was not interested in the coffee though. One of the nice things about being in Awasa is that you can get very fine Mango juice. There is nothing quite like it in the morning. After breakfast I finished my packing, and checked out of the hotel. I was surprised to find that my bill was for Br. 216 which is very expensive! I complained about it, but there was little I could do. Up to this point I had never paid more then Br. 156, which is considered a lot. I was paying the “skin tax.” My Ethiopian friends were appalled at the price. For a room that I would pay Br. 156 for they would pay Br. 70. We left the hotel for Yaballow around 8:30, only to hear from Jatani (who was driving) that he needed to pick up an extra fan belt. Thus instead of turning left on the main road, which would take us to Yaballow, we turned right heading to Addis. We did not go far before we came to a shop which had what we wanted. Thought we had to wait quite a while for them to produce the fan belt. When we were on the way to get the fan belt, we had dropped Did off at the Lewi Hotel, so that he could have some breakfast. He got up rather later then the rest of us, so we picked him up and off we (finely at 09:40 ish) went to Yaballow. The journey was lovely, except for the pot holes in the road (well it was not too bad given that most of the roads were not tar-macked, and this road is.) By all means the road was much better then the road which takes you to the South East where Negelle Borena is. Along the way we passed a lot of Tukles, which are the round dwellings which most people in the country live in. Most of Tukles had some sort of garden in there compound. The flowers tended to be red and yellow. Unfortunately I do not know what type of flowers they were (some type of lily I believe.) As we make our descent into the Great Rift Valley much of the road was cut into the sides of mountains, so you have a lovely view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Sometime after mid day we stopped at the Dawa Hotel in Agere Maryam for lunch. We had what was turning out to be the standard meal on the trip “Tibbs” (roasted bits of meat.) The Dawa had a largish compound shaped in a large “U.” On the left hand side and bottom (of the “U’), as you drove into the compound are the hotel rooms and kitchen. Then on the right were several rooms (brightly coloured) which you could have your meals in. There was also an out door area where people could eat or drink coffee. At the upper end of the right hand wall was another room with a pool table. I found that people playing pool in Ethiopia do not like to have their pictures taken… Anyway we were moving on. On the road again Did, pointed out to me the many different types of trees. I was interested to see how many Juniper trees there were. We were now about 100 kilometers beyond Agere Maryam, and the fan belt brakes! Fun, fun. Fortunately Jatani made us stop in Awasa and buy one earlier! Well we stop the car and I was struck by the fact that there are not any houses around. Almost everywhere I have been in Ethiopia there have been people. We were in the middle of no where, beyond the “black stump!” One 18 wheeler did stop to see if we needed any help, people are very helpful here, but we declined. Then I noticed Galgalo walking back down the road, when I asked why, Tarekegn told me that Save the Children required us to bring back the broken belt so that Jatani could get a refund…. So there Jason, Tarekegn, Galgalo and I were, all looking for the snapped fan belt in the middle of nowhere. After around 20 min. we finely found a few pieces of it. We had a good laugh about it though. On returning to the Land Curser we found that we did not have the right tools to put on the new belt… not so fun… Well we got back into the Land Curser and limped to the next town. The town was called Finchawa. Finchawa is what might have been called “a one horse town.” Not much seemed to be going on there when we arrived, but once the saw Jason and I in the Land Curser, it was like a trip to the zoo. There were so many people surrounding the car, looking at us, that Jason and I had to stay inside. From time to time, there was a thump on the side of the car, by one person or another to try and get our attention. Generally this was done by a child. I must say that after a while this did become rather annoying. After a short while Jatani was able to lay his hands on the tools that he needed, and we were on our way. The landscape in this part of the country looks a lot like Negelle Borena, which means generally arid with lots of scrub brush. However, because of the rainy season the land had a lovely greenish hue. In the distance as we drove past, we could see Lake Makie (or Bakie spl.? I am not sure) which is not on my map of Ethiopia. In this area we could see corn fields. Apparently the Pastoralists are being encouraged to settle, and become Farmers. I hear that it is not working too well, but it is a good way to keep an eye on things. Around this area I saw some lovely back and white storks. We arrived in Yaballow at about three o’clock in the afternoon. We took rooms at the Yaballow Hotel, which has some rather nice rooms (I was in room 6). Each room ran Br. 100 (with the skin tax), but as I was there under the auspices of an NGO, I had the room at the rate of Br. 70 per night. I found, when I went to sit on the hotel veranda, that there was a tame “Dik-Dik” [spl.?]; there was also a tree in the courtyard that was full of lovely yellow and green weaver birds. That night, after Jason and I had a pleasant (only because it was a change) spaghetti dinner; I watch Jason beet Tarekegn twice at “pool.” So to bed, as the next day we were off to Moyale, which is on the Kenyan border.

    posted at: 09:47 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Please comment on what ever you like. Thanks.

    posted at: 05:18 | path: /old05 | permanent link to this entry

    Fri, 14 May 2004

    28th April, 2004. Negelle to Awasa (Day one of the Great Rift Valley Trip) Rainy Season. We left Negelle for Awasa at around 9:30 in the morning. There were five of us: Tarekegn, Jason, Did, Jatani and I. On the edge of Negelle we stopped and picked up a friend of Did’s called Galgalo. (Galgalo was to travel with us to Yaballow. Yaballow is a town almost at the North Eastern Kenyan border.) It did not start to rain until we were about ten km out of Negelle (we had to stop and cover our bags in plastic,) but it was a lovely drive over the dirt roads despite the rain. As we drove I saw a lot of camels, troops of baboons, a couple of African Hornbills (they are almost always in pairs as they bond for life), and some type of cormorant. Of course there were lots of goats, sheep, donkeys, horses and dogs along the way. After we had been on the road for a couple of hours we stopped in Kibre Mengist for lunch. The restaurant was one that belonged to a relative of one of the employees of Save the Children, and the food is always good. Unfortunately I do not know its name. One thing that did strike me this time, on one of the trees behind the kitchen is a large tree, and on it was a flock of vultures. Boy what a site that was. We finely got to Awasa in the early evening. We had booked rooms at the Pina hotel. They gave me a nice room on the first floor, No. 30, and Jason had No. 31. The room had a king size bed and a smaller bed, quite comfortable. I did not know how much it costs, but the rooms generally cost about Br. 156 per night. A local person would pay about Br. 70 for the same room that I would pay Br. 156 for (I call it a “skin tax”) I don’t mind though, we generally have more “disposable income” then they do. We all agreed to meet at 7pm in the bar/restaurant next to the hotel, then to go to a place that Did knew to have dinner. While sitting and waiting for the rest of the group to gather I could really tell that it was the rainy session, as there were so many mosquitoes out and about. The restaurant belonged to the father of an old friend of Did’s. The food that we had were “Tibbs” which is basically meat which has been cutup and cooked with a few chilly peppers; which is eaten with injura (a flat bread made of “teff “[spl.?]), or bread. It is eaten with your fingers. When dinner was finished we went to a hotel which was very close to ours, and sat on their veranda and had several beers. Jatani, I found out, only drinks “Sophie” which is a sweet non-alcoholic beer. At about 11:30pm we returned to the Pina and went to bed. It had been a lovely evening.

    posted at: 03:46 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Tue, 27 Apr 2004

    27th April, 2004. Negelle Borena (Rainy Season.) Well, this last Saturday, the 24th, we were invited to a wedding party for Paulos Tefera (who Ashley works with) and Azeb (unfortunately I do not know Azeb’s family name). The actual wedding had taken place the weekend before; there was a party then too. There are different types of weddings in Ethiopia, I understand, and some of them take place in several stages. The event that took place on Saturday was one where the two families were being introduced to one another. At this event though, not only the families were invited, but Elders of the community, and friends as well. The party was held at Paulos’s (and now Azeb’s) compound at one o’clock in the afternoon. Ashley and I had not met Azeb, and we were looking forward to seeing her. Ashley, Jason and I met Solomon (a friend of ours who has been working with Ashley since she here was in 2000) at Jason’s house, where Ashley and I are staying. We went to the Save the Children guesthouse where we were to meet other people from Save the Children, then as a group go on to Paulo and Azeb’s place. When we arrived at the compound, we were greeted by Paulos and shown to an area where we might sit. The compound had been sectioned off into little areas groups could collect. These areas were bordered by foliage of various types, and the ground was covered with rushes, which are typical used during ceremonies. As we were sitting down, people were coming around greeting one another. Those who were serving brought around food and drink. The food was the traditional Gai Wat [spl.?] which is spicy [not really] chicken curry –sort of- which you eat with injura [spl.?] which is a very thin pancake that serves as a medium by which you pick up the Gai Wat and eat it. It is very good. The drinks which were available were Tala, Bizz [spl.?] and Tedge [spl.?]. Tala is a locally (or home made) made beer, which is non-alcoholic (generally) and very dark. It is quite bitter and the taste is reminiscent of charcoal. Bizz (home made) is made of honey and water, and something else, but I am not yet sure. I do not know what it tastes like as I have not yet tried it. Frankly I am reluctant too because of the water in it. Lastly the Tedge (home made), I have had it before, and I do like it. It is made up of honey, as is the Bizz, but it is fermented. Unfortunately Ashley did not want any Tala, and would not drink the Bizz because of the water element. She had to stay away from the Tedge because of the alcohol. Luckily for Ashley they did have some “soft” –soft drinks-, so had a sprite. Mostly people seemed to drink Tedge or Bizz, though it was hard to tell, which was which, as the bottles were the same. :) People came around repeatedly to be sure that we had enough to eat and drink. As is appropriate for a wedding the sprites were high, but I do not think anyone was “over served” (thanks Wayne). :) Ashley and I did finely meet the bride, though we did not know it at the time… In fact, she came around, and I thought that she was collecting our plates :), we were eating on our laps you see, so I gave her my plate :). Ah well, she took it very well, and passed the pate back to someone behind her then shook my hand… Boy talk about embarrassed… :) At this point Jason, Alamyu (Alex) –a friend of ours- and I were working on the Tedge. I was on my second 750ml bottle, and they were on their third. We were having a fun time chatting away while Ashley took some pictures, which I hope to put onto the web when I return to Addis. It was now about 2:30pm and the music was going (traditional). The men began to dance, and asked Jason and I to join so we did. It was fun, fun! Finely we decided to move on, so we (including Alamyu) went back to Jason’s place. Though we were not planning our time around it, we knew that the Liverpool vs. Man United football match was coming on (the outcome was as expected). That night we had Chili which Ashley made, what a treat that was. We had talked about going out, but we felt that perhaps that might not be such a good idea. We spent the evening on the couches…:) Boy we had a good time. Cheers, Lek

    posted at: 08:38 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Fri, 23 Apr 2004

    23rd April, 2004. Negelle (Rainy Season.) Well it is the rainy season, and we have seen some rain. Unfortunetly we do not have any running water, until recently we have not had any power either. It seems that there has been so much rain that the local dam is unable to cope with it. The result is no water. Not having had any power was not so bad, and it was lovely to go out of the house at night into the starlight (there was no moon in sight.) It seems that because the roads were so bad, due to the rains, the trucks which bring the diesel that fuel the electrical generators here, are unable to make there delivery. So we lived by candle light, made some music (harmonica) and conversation. Fortunately I was able to connect to the Internet and check my mail, up load my blog, using the battery on my laptop. Not having water is a problem though. Having a liter of water to wash in is not a lot. Bathing has been a bit of a problem for about three days :). As I look outside now I can see the clouds gathering for a rain. Water just started coming out of the tap, but it is a charming ochre colour. Hopefully it will move to a more normal colour soon. Drinking water has been some what of a concern too. Fun, fun. Now off to fill water containers. Cheers, Lek

    posted at: 07:04 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Wed, 21 Apr 2004

    21st April, 2004. Negelle Borena –Rainy Season. Well we are back in Negelle for the second time is two weeks. From what Ashley is saying it will be the last time for a long while. For those who may not know it, Ashley is due in October, so it is unlikely that we will be back here before then. The trip between Addis and Awasa was lovely. Now that the rains have come everything is looking very green. Actually it is raining in Addis too, and it is not supposed to now, Global Warming I suppose. Though the rain makes everything look nice and green, it is a bit of a problem for the farmers. There is still a lot of grain left out to dry, so much of it is now wet. Most farmers here, from my observation, do not seem to have grain silos to store their harvest in. Hopefully they will not suffer too much by this. On the way to Awasa, we stopped in Suwai [spl.?] to pick up Deregie [spl.?] a colleague of Ashley’s who also works in Negelle. Suwai is about 100 kilometers from Addis and is very near to the Rift Valley lakes. As I said, the trip to Awasa, which is where we stop for the night, was nice. It seemed that every donkey in Ethiopia was out and about. In Awasa we stayed at the Lewi Hotel, which is one of the three hotels we stay at in Awasa. They have hot water, which is nice in the rainy season, when the water tends to be rather cold. The food at the hotel is o.k. too. It is interesting to note, that the prices of the rooms keep going up. Because of the recent food emergency there have (and are) a lot of Franenjoch (foreigners) here, so they local businesses keep moving their prices up wards. However the emergency in now over, and most of the franenjoch will be leaving; I will be interested to see how that impacts the hotels. We left from Awasa at about 08:30 and got to Negelle Borena around 16:00. The trip was pleasant up until we left the paved road, which was about 100 kilometers into our journey. From that point on it was rather uncomfortable. Part of the problem was that we were carrying two large filing cabinets, which crushed the suspension in the truck we were in. The other factor was that the rains had washed out a lot of the road, so it was extra bumpy. On the way down I saw baboons, African hornbills (large black ground dwelling birds), ducks with black and white wings, and lots of horses, dogs and donkeys. Ashley and Deregie also saw a couple of ostriches too (fun, fun.) Cheers, Lek

    posted at: 04:47 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

    Mon, 22 Mar 2004

    26th Feb, 2004. Day Six (Istanbul – The last day). As this was the only day we had left in Turkey, we wanted to see at least one more “site” in the morning. Then in the Afternoon go to the Grand Bazaar and finish off our shopping. The site we wanted to see was Chora (Chora means Land or Country). Chora was a monetary up until the time of the conquest, and was originally outside the walls of Constantine’s city. After the conquest it was turned into a mosque. As in other cases where churches were converted to mosques, changes were only made superficially so you may still see a lot of the fine mosaics and frescoes. Early in the 20th centaury Chora became The Kariye (Chora) Museum, and it is well worth a visit. Among the mosaics there are some depicting the births of Christ, Mary, and Jesus’ temptation by the Devil. Truly this is a lovely place to visit. If you go there, buy on to the books on Chora that they sell there, as there is not much information posted there abouts. The money also goes to the restoration of the art treasures on the walls there. Viewing Chora took the better part of the morning, so when we finely left we went to the Grand Bazaar. Having been there before, the place did not seem quite as daunting as it had. We were looking for a couple of shirts, and some wall units for the hanging glass lamps that we had purchased earlier. The lamps are lovely by, the by. They are of blown glass (one of them is of glass mosaic) and have mettle brackets from which they are suspended by chains. We were able to find the wall mounts for them, but they were too expensive… Anyway, we did find some nice shirts, in fact I even found a “Tintin in Istanbul” tee-shirt (very nice!). We did take some time and look at rugs, but we did not find anything that we like much. By now it was late in the afternoon and we had to be at the airport very early; so we returned to the hotel for an early dinner. The only bad thing that happened to us happened at the Airport. Let me tell you Istanbul Airport is a mess. It is not the structure of the building, which is nice as far as airports go. The problem is in the security measures setup to check the bags. There isn’t any order (there were supposed to be three lines) and the security guards did not seem to be looking at any of the luggage which was supposed to be being checked. It was a real mess! As I said this was the only bad thing that we experienced there. If are leaving from Istanbul, be sure to get to the airport Early! We all got back to Addis (after a nice layover in London) without much ado; Ashley and I got home about Two o’clock in the morning. Boy it was good to be back!

    posted at: 04:49 | path: /old04 | permanent link to this entry

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