I don't have a lot of interest in witting in detail about my trip today so I'm copy and pasting this from my "journal".
When I entered my host family’s home first I noticed how western it really looked.
Upon arriving at their home we honked our horn, the compound doors opened and the family came out with the servants to help me take my stuff out of the car. I was lead ahead of my stuff and showed my room- once they determined I was pleased with it my luggage was carried into the room. My room contained a silver blinking cross up in the corner-a wardrobe, a desk and a bed with a hand made crochet quilt on it. It was a gorgeous room and to my embarrassment later one of the larger rooms in the home. We then went out into the living room where there was the typical western couch/chair and attached dining room configurations. One couch, two chairs, a coffee table, a TV in the corner that is always on (the TVs were almost always on in all of the homes during my visit)- and in the attached dining room a large dining table and a china cabinet. The curtains in both rooms were noticeable handmade. And a beautiful carpet on the floor of the living room that in the rainy season will be covered with a plastic so that it is not soiled.
The home I lived in had 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, an outdoor kitchen and an indoor kitchen. The house was modern in feel but had painted mud walls – a common kind of construction – you’d never know it if you were not told, and part concrete. One of the bathrooms was more modern than the other. Although the owners of the home live in this modest house with much happiness and pleasure they are sometimes embarrassed of the stature they hold in society as school owners and lawyers –but have this modest home. For me, it truly envelops the feeling I have for this family. They are people who work so very hard for their country- knowing that education is the path to empowering the future of their country but for themselves they have what they need.
During my visits to other homes I began to notice that my home was very modest indeed but as I visited these more western dwellings I became more and more attached to the place I learned not only to call but also felt like home.
When we sat down in the living room on my first day- I as the guest of honor cut a beautiful piece of Ambasha. Ambasha is a northern Ethiopian bread common for Tingrean and other northern cultures to celebrate an event with. The guest of honor cuts the first piece and then it is served to others. Learning that sharing your food is a sign of affection – I then took my piece of bread and fed both Sami (the director of the volunteer organization I traveled with) and my host Mother Atsede. This is also the first moment I met somebody that will change my life- my host sister Eldana. While eating the bread and drinking Axum wine (a local Ethiopian wine that is a bit bitter and drank mixed with Coke by the locals- note that the Coke in my humble opinion does not make it taste any better- I stuck with the south African imported wine after giving up on drinking the local wines on my visit there). I learned about their family history and some about the school I would be teaching at. Looking around the room you notice a picture of a previous king of Ethiopia- in the line of their family photos. As the family was introduced to me I inquired about each member on the wall of the family. There was Atsede’s grandmother, great grandfather and eventually Ras (King) Yohannes (sp). This was her great great grandfather. (I think- I Need to get this right for the future). The story of her family follows this introduction and also my first glimpse into the struggles of the people in Ethiopia’s turbulent political history. After a delightful introduction I had my first Ethiopian home-made dinner. It was during fasting season (prior to Easter) and it was all vegetables. When Ethiopians fast there is no meat or dairy in their diets. My first meal was delightfully similar to the Ethiopian food I had been eating in the United States. It was exciting to learn that the food I had fallen in love with at Fasika and at some of my friends houses was the food I’d be eating for the next few months. After dinner my host sister Eldana helped me unpack my multitude of things and I began to see the wonders of her personality. I already could tell I had so much to learn from her acceptance and excitement for the world.My first night at my host families home I could hear dogs barking, music playing and eventually the Orthodox Christian church and Muslim Mosques nearby chanting their calls to service. I quickly discovered how valuable those earplugs I brought with me were going to be. For the next 2 months I slept fairly peacefully with my earplugs in. Did I mention if you are going to Ethiopia- bring earplugs :)