The flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was about to be the death of me. Hardly getting any sleep the night before because us young folks wanted to indulge in some wine as it was our last night in America. (I mean, who wouldn’t do that…Last night in America for 27 months…yeahh….) We thought the later we stayed up (some all night) the better chance we could sleep on the plane.
WRONG! Wrong choice Isabella!
Needless to say, I slept for an hour or two and before I knew it, It was 4:30 AM and it was time to board the bus to the air port in D.C. Once checked in we sat for a while before we could board our flight that left at 10:30. I spent this time contacting the ones I loved one more time.
I wanted to cry on the plane because I couldn’t get comfortable and all I wanted to do was sleep. Every time I would nod off, my head would fall downward in a violent direction and wake me up in a fashion like the plane was going down. Startled and wide eyed. I am sure plenty of you all have experienced this before.
Me being the newb at traveling to another country and having little experience at traveling on planes much, didn’t realize I could lean my seat back. Reeking of Newbie status for sure. Thank you for other Peace Corps members for helping a sista out. Also, Becky See, thank you SO much for the neck pillow!
I watched about four movies in between my sleeping episodes. I felt like an old lady as my knees and back were barking. I don’t think I have ever sat so long! A 13 hour flight. UGH!
Upon arrival we had to wait in an extremely long line to get our visas approved. Once through, we were greeted by the Peace Corps Ethiopia Staff who were beaming with excitement to meet us. It sent a pure feeling of joy through my body, like a jolt of electricity, waking me up for sure. Here we are, this is finally it!!
From there we went to the hotel by bus and I was in awe.
Like someone pinch me right now. Am I really in Africa? Is this real life?! I am finally in a different country where buildings, cars, people, everything seemed different and I was loving it. There is naturally third world differences such as some unpleasant smells, the water being undrinkable (there is a ton of water bottles given to us by the Peace Corps so I never feel thirty), cars drive around as if each person has the right of way. Zooming in and out, no blinkers, no real speed limits. Oh and you must not forget the cow crossings!
It is quite the scene. Being the adrenaline junkie that I am, I found it scary and fascinating. 🙂
We have been staying at a hotel this week.
Upon first arrival after our flight we jumped into a welcome speech and info sessions about what the week entailed. I will be honest with you, I hardly retained a single thing that day because I was almost delirious. Felt like I needed someone to hold my eye lids open. The staff knew this and could tell we were all exhausted so they tried to be as quick as possible Sunday.
This week we had sessions about personal safety and risk, medical overview, Peace Corps Expectations, Site placement, medical interviews, shots, language learning, etc. etc. Pretty much 8 to 5:30 we were busy learning away. We also got a phone with an Ethiopian number.. Check it out.. Old School T9 texting, YES!
Each info session reminded me of why I joined. Each time a session ends, I feel more excited to hear about the next section. I find myself becoming ansty and just wanting to know what is going to happen next. Like what my host family will be like today. Where my site placement will be after I am sworn in. I just want it all to happen so fast, but know I need to enjoy the process as it happens.
A few things that are different.
Coffee is HUGE here. We have it for breakfast, for break at 10:30 and 3:30, pretty much anytime. It is a way of welcoming someone into their homes, it is a way to socialize. Community is huge. When I had my first cup, I ordered it black. Naturally that is how I drank it in the U.S.
Absolutely NOT no Folgers in your cup. Strong strong coffee, I made a squinty eyed face and darted for the milk and sugar. I am currently working my way into drinking it straight black. It also has a strong effect on my body as well (amped up for days) Slowly…but surely I will get there! 😂
Processed food is not a thing. Meals here at the hotel are filled with Injera (Spongie like bread that goes with everything), salads, veggies, fruits, rice, some american foods such as pasta,..we are told they are trying to ease our way into their food. HA! I love the food though! I am fortunate for that as some others have struggled.
The toilets here cannot take toilet paper, so you have to wipe and throw it in the trash. Unbelievably hard to remember to do! Most bathrooms out and about have just a hole in the ground. Which I have yet to experience, but my time will be here shortly. Honestly, I do not care…I mean… I pooped in the woods for 5 months. I feel that my squat stance is pretty solid these days.
Now… the fellow Peace Corps Trainees’.
Oh Good gravy, they are amazing. Seriously a collection of people all over the U.S. with such different background and experiences, ages all over the board but most residing immediately after college. We became a team immediately, each of us having each others back without any reason but that we are all apart of the “G18 Peace Corps Ethiopia”. So many differences and similarities. One guy has hike the AT like me, one is into ultra marathons like me, One speaks sign language, I could go on and on. It is truly astonishing.
We have been able to explore Addis Ababa a little bit on our own as the days go by. A few of us went out for beers and then the last couple of days we were given money and the opportunity to eat out on our own.
The first night a group of us went and ate pizza. It sounded unbelievably irresistible. Then the second chance we ate out and ate some Ethiopian meal called “Tibs” It was quite delicious.
day we meet with our Host families and I am beyond thrilled and restless. So many questions running through my mind of how it will be. But what will be will be and I know these next three months of training are going to go by incredibly quick. I am learning to once again take it day by day.
Every day we will be busy with learning the language, culture, and our health projects that will last from 8 to 5:15. From there our curfew is at 7:00 PM. therefore, my time starting next week will be spent on “school” and studying.
Which is fine with me because I am not one to give just 60% on anything. I am ready to get my brain juices flowing again!
Phone Service will be sparse. Here in Addis Ababa they have Wi-Fi and 3G So using our phones and social media has been doable. But once we move to the rural areas, They will pretty much be extinct. I am in hopes to post at least once a month, but it could be even less than that.
As always, Keep the positive vibes flowing and If I don’t get back to you quickly, bare with me and just know that eventually, I will!
FYI Ozzy is down an eye. He just almost made the entire trip but lost a pupil in the final moving round. I do have an extra and am in hopes to bring him back to life here soon. 🙂
SO MUCH LOVE,
Iz and half eyed Oz