One of the treats the new Bingham staff had in store for us for our orientation was The Amazing Race. It was organised by existing staff, and I think was a thinly-disguised initiation ritual! (Just kidding, it was loads of fun!) The idea was to get us to use the local taxis and to follow the clues which would orientate us around the city. We began with a small amount of money; I can’t remember the exact amount, but it was no more than 300 Birr (about AU$17 ). This money needed to be enough for our team of 5 to take taxis across the city and to make various purchases as we went.
Above is my amazing team: Meseret, the Ethiopian wife of Jari, who is second from the right and is one of our new music teachers, from Finland. In between them is Brett, the husband of Kathy, the new Year 2 teacher. Brett and Kathy are Australian, from New South Wales. Brett is a pastor, and here is the Grade 9 Homeroom teacher, is overseeing the Middle and High School chapels, and is playing househusband, enjoying a much-deserved break. On the right is Jason, who is American and a new lecturer at the Evangelical Theological College (ETC). His wife, Emily is part of our little learning support team and is an elementary school reading specialist.
We were all driven to Bole, near the airport and pretty much on the opposite side of the city from Kolfe, where Bingham is located. We were given our first clue and were expected to catch the Addis taxis to complete the challenge. Taxis are actually blue and white minivans. A small taxi as we would know it is actually called a “Contract” and is much more expensive than sharing one of these taxis with a group of others. The young man in the door way calls out the destination of the taxi and takes your money when you get on. When the door is shut, he leans out the window to keep calling to potential passengers.
One of the tasks we needed to complete while on our way to various locations was to collect or photograph various items. The first one was to photograph at least three “typical” Ethiopian sights. These are some of my choices! Above, you can see young boys cleaning shoes, a frequent sight throughout the city. Below is a typical road-side shop selling various small items and a fruit and vegetable stall. There are several veggie stalls just outside the gates of the school where we can pop to get avocadoes, bananas (waaaaay cheaper than the jewel-encrusted ones we have had to buy in Australia this year, post-Queensland cyclone!), onions, potatoes and other things.
Below you can see a fairly normal sight: scaffolding on a new building, Ethiopian style. Yes, that is wooden scaffolding! It looks rickety, but I suppose it is sturdy enough…
Part of the fun of travelling around Addis is the truly entertaining things one can see on the road. A heavily-overloaded ute is a normal sight now. This week I have noticed live sheep with their hooves tied together lying placidly on the roof of a taxi and a dozen dead chickens hanging from the roof of a van.
Another of our challenges was to have our photo taken while playing Foosball. It is easy to find a group of lads around a foosball table. This group (below) were beside one of the city’s stadiums. They let us play briefly while I took the official team photo. Then one of the boys insisted on dragging me into the game and very kindly placed the ball at the feet of one of my “players” so I could actually hit it!
We had to dress up one of our team members in traditional Ethiopian clothing: Brett was our “willing” mannequin. Not exactly a traditional outfit, but close…
We had to find someone selling “Ethiopian toothbrushes” which are pieces of soft wood, the ends of which can be softened so you can clean your teeth with them. We found someone on the street selling them and bought one. Below, Jason is demonstrating how they are used! The man we bought it from is on the right.
We had to buy a postcard and post it. We found someone selling them on the street, bought one, then I wrote on it, and we went to the nearby postoffice to buy a stamp so we could actually post it. I sent it to Mum and Dad and a couple of weeks later it arrived!
Of course, in amongst all of these little tasks, we were also supposed to be following the clues to get ourselves to various destinations. Our first clue was to go either to “Lime Tree” or to a certain cinema. We accidently went to the wrong cinema and kind of got a bit side-tracked! Luckily the Ethiopian Amharic teachers were secretly tracking each team and they contacted the teachers organising the race to let them know we had gone off track! We got a phone call from Dave telling us we were “lost” and we needed to make our way to the SIM headquarters for our next clue!
While we were at SIM HQ we had to take our photo in the mail room. This is us posing suitably! When mail is sent to me, this is where it arrives. We need someone to collect our mail every week and bring it back to Bingham. After that we took a taxi to the Norwegian Lutheran Mission, or NLM, where some of the Bingham staff are living. From there, we were completely out of time, so we were instructed to get ourselves to the Sheraton, which we did via contract rather than taxi since we were so short of time.
The Sheraton hotel is a whole other world! It is precisely how you would expect a high-end hotel to be: marble floors, quiet inoffensive music playing, vast swimming pool and extensive gardens, and nice clean toilets with the best smelling handsoap ever! Our first task was to take a photo of one of the staff members with the groovy little hats. We were supposed to take a photo with one of us wearing the hat, but were then told by the staff members who gave us the clue that they probably wouldn’t agree to this. We, however, succeeded! Jari is wearing the groovy hat!
Then we had to go out into the gardens and find the red phone booth near the Gnome Garden (which was a little creepy…). Once there, we had to take a photograph of ourselves doing something “British”. This is us lining up, British-style!
Having missed the first clue, we never really caught up, and sadly came last in the race. We did, however, have a jolly good time, so it really didn’t matter!