Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Goodbye Addis and ICS

Two years and out. Admin. co-workers, friends asked why we left Ethiopia after two years to return back to Alexandria, Egypt. We've had some time to reflect on this question. The most fitting response we could muster was, "Ethiopia wasn't a fit." It wasn't any single event, it was a collection of little things that added up.

For us, Egypt was full of life, movement, and distractions while Ethiopia was like being confined to a monastery. Everything we've said about the people, food, and landscape while living there is true, it was mostly positive. Our students were great, we liked our bosses and co-workers were fun to be around...in the end we were glad the school didn't make much of an effort to retain us. Had our school thrown a carrot our direction it would have been harder to leave. (We requested to move closer to school so Ana could nurse-per school policy no special provisions are made to teachers and to the school's credit they stuck to their word.)

When Ana left to give birth back in the States, the void was exaggerated in an already lonely landscape. If it wasn't for the task of writing a book, I probably would have knocked on my neighbors doors often and medicated myself more than I already did. In short, isolation isn't conducive to a happy life.

Reflecting back on some of the last photos I took below reminds me how compelling the last couple months of isolation can eclipse an overall experience.

My favorite signs in Addis. I think the animal might be a cat or a mutation of one.  The animal has the option of using a paint brush on his right, but decided dumping a bucket of paint would better suit the task. Vandal-like tendencies. 
Kristin, the neighbor upstairs. She was devoted to Cheetos and eating on the floor. No exaggeration.  
More paint store art. Three colors in one can an Ethiopian exclusive.
Nathan was my brewing buddy.  
I made a series of phony "lost" animal flyers. My favorite one was of the lost hyena-a family pet. I taped a couple around town. I also posted one of a lost snake in our building's elevator that caused the building's management to create their own stating not to post posters.  
One of my co-workers thought it would be fun make a response. He made my day. 
Rob had scotch tastings on Wednesday nights. He also provoked people at parties with politics. I'm  sure people thought he was rude, but that's why I liked him. 
Tash spoke whatever they do in New Zealand and made everything sound dirty. I had her name in my phone as "Crotch Rash"  
Two fisted Nik let me beat him at chess. 
Erik, also had a way to weed people out. He could be very off-putting to other adults. I also liked him a lot. 
If you're single (or married) be ready to mingle when Ryan is around. Kudos to Ry for marrying a local (Habesha-not pictured) in record time. Who is pictured next to Ryan is the fabulous Downtown Jackie Brown who will whip you silly with her tongue. Stay out of her way and she won't bite.   
Mooch Goat. Don't leave your food unattended. 
Solomon was my local buddy from the commissary who told me wild Ethiopian stories.  
I had a vision of putting drawings all over the house. Then I thought i should be more responsible than that. This one has several quotes from the movie Apocalypse Now. 
After packing out. Screams Soviet era Eastern Bloc minimalism. 
Fuck yeah, we were.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bob - it's Danielle. Heard you were in Addis (until recently, I guess) and Chad directed me to your blog. We've been in Nairobi for about a year and a half. Loved this post. Hope you're well.