Today has been my first full day at Bingham Academy in Ethiopia. Right now as I write this, it’s sunny, but earlier there was a torrential shower of rain and a little thunder!
Last night I slept like a log. After leaving Jacqui’s place (in another torrential downfall) I got to bed at 8pm. I don’t actually remember lying there awake so I think I pretty much passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. Bliss! I awoke at the crack of 4am of course, but was happy with a solid 8 hours sleep! I go up a little while later to “powder my nose”, then went back to bed, but decided I was feeling peckish so I made a small “first breakfast” of homemade biscuits, an orange and a cup of cinnamon tea. It was a good time to pop onto the internet and check emails, while there was less demand on the school’s wireless connection. My neighbours beneath me heard me up and about, so I’m going to try to be a bit quieter, although I think the flushing toilet only has one volume… Then I got up at 7am to shower and have “second breakfast”, this time of warmed up fresh rolls with Danish cherry jam and another cup of tea. Yes, I am feeling a bit like a hobbit and think the habit could catch on if I insist on waking before dawn!
Health-wise I am doing fine. I have had a bit of an altitude headache and post long haul flight light-headedness, but am trying to hydrate as much as I can and I am sure I will adjust soon.
Jacqui collected me at 9am for my first foray into grocery shopping! I won’t need to have much around for dinners this week as meals are largely provided by staff members, either as a shared meal or as a guest in their home, so my shopping list consisted of toiletries, snacks and breakfast foods. Jacqui took me to Shoa Supermarket which had all sorts of interested things. For the record, I found Lindt chocolate (which I snaffled – I think it comes into the category of “if you see it, buy it” as I may not ever see it again!), Snickers bars, Kracks, which are a bit like Pringles and the closest thing I have found to potato chips, Nivea Body Nourishing Milk, Dove shampoo and Laughing Cow cheese. We stopped at the Bakery just outside Bingham’s gates to buy some fresh bagettes which are now in the freezer for breakfast tomorrow morning.
The staff gathered for morning tea so it was lovely to meet some other new staff (so far there are other Australians, English, Americans and Germans). Of course, I am struggling to remember anyone’s name; nouns still aren’t sticking, but as I catch up on missed sleep and settle into a routine, I am sure they’ll return!
Andrea and her children took me out for lunch to the Island Breeze Restaurant which specialises in REALLY good pizza. It was proper wood oven pizza with really nice crusts (crispy, medium and thick – all good) and really tasty toppings. It got washed down with my first African Coca Cola (which pretty much tastes the same as every other place I’ve bought it, including Nepal, Japan and Papua New Guinea… yet to decide if this is a good thing…). As the restaurant was in the centre of the city I got another good look around at the general chaos. So many people! And cows. And donkeys. And pollution. And people. I am learning to tell the difference between Ethiopian sheep (tails down) and goats (tails up). At least I think that’s the difference! As Yvette said on one of my Facebook status updates, it makes the whole Biblical “separating the sheep from the goats” reference a bit more interesting!
The afternoon was a quiet one. I went for a walk on the cross country track that follows the wall of the compound, a bit up hill and down dale which is good. I got a bit puffed, but am choosing to blame that on the altitude, not on my general lack of fitness. I failed in my decision to avoid an afternoon nap and had a little lie down until about 6pm. I’ve just had some of the tomato soup that was left for me in my fridge with another of those bread rolls and am now contemplating bed. It is 8.15pm now… I was hoping to make it to 9pm… we’ll see!