Something Smells A Little Fishy

Today our agenda including visiting the fish market. We woke up bright and early, as we do every morning. After a delicious breakfast, we headed out to the cars. We were yet again swarmed by a group of sellers who seemed to always come back with handmade baskets, spoons made from cow horns, and an assortment of bracelets and necklaces. Most of the group members already had a collection of these items so we said goodbye to them and headed to the lake. To our surprise they arrived at the fish market at the same time as us but on foot. The dedication to make a sale is admirable.

While waiting for Dr. Willis to negotiate prices and hire a guide, the students were able to enjoy watching the mujas (dogs), uncos (monkeys), and baby goats. We were also fascinated by the storks walking among the people. I noticed children holdings bags of fish which they would use to feed the storks so I wanted to check it out. I was handed a slimy piece of fish and told to throw it up in the air. As I threw it up, the storks sprawled their wings and stretched their necks. I was frightened the storks would charge at me so I thanked the boys and joined the rest of the group.

A little intimidating when they are this close right?

A little intimidating when they are this close right?

Feeding the storks.

Feeding the storks.

Cute little monkey just chilling.

Cute little monkey just chilling.

We learned that there are three kinds of fish in this lake, goldfish, catfish, and tilapia. There are 52 boats and each boat catches up to 300 fish a day. The guide told us that 250 goes to the main market, and 50 stay here to be sold to various people who all prepare the fish uniquely. We asked how young the boys are when they begin fishing and the guide told us as young as 4 or 5 with manual fishing, then they will be trained to fish in the boats. I am still so fascinated by the level of maturity and amount of hardwork the children in this country have.

Hand made cotton fish net.

Hand made cotton fish net.

Boys gutting and scaling the fish.

Boys gutting and scaling the fish

After the fish market, we went to the main market. Due to it being market day and thus even busier, we were advised to not bring our phones or anything we did not abslotuely need so unfortunetly I do not have pictures of our adventures at the market. We all still had a great time walking around and comparing his market to Hiyak. This market was a little more organized and we had more room to walk between the stalls. Clothing, shoes, grains, spices, crops, everything we had expected and more. I ended up buying a block of fresh sugar cane but made sure to put my toothbrush stick to use afterwards to prevent cavaties and decay.

Our next adventure, Whataburger. Random right? But it is real, they had the official sign from Texas. After a long wait, we finally got our burgers and they were very delicious. Ethiopian food is great but it was a nice break to taste American food for once.

Whataburger!

Whataburger!

Enjoying Ethiopian Whataburger burger and fries.

Enjoying Ethiopian Whataburger burger and fries.

We are all obviously missing home, but there is so much more work to do and places to explore. Starting with our first home and hospital visits tomorrow.

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Hello Hawasa

I’ve gotten really used to getting up early, and I have to say, I really enjoy it. I’m able to get more done in the morning, including my (almost) daily workout with Katie and Amanda! We all had a filling breakfast, and headed out to our next school in Hawasa, called Hayik Dar, meaning ‘near the lake’ in Amharic. Yet again, I realized how lucky I am to be living the life that I am. Every single child here has ripped clothing, they can’t shower very often, if at all, and the majority of these children are malnourished, primarily because they can’t afford nutritious foods. We noticed that overall, the children at this school had healthier teeth, but there were a handful of kids who had lots of plaque and decay. Pang and I looked at a girl’s teeth that had decayed so much that all of her 1st molars were gone. It’s so sad to all of us that there is such poor dental healthcare.

 

 

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On a different topic, I’ve really been amazed at all the manual labor the children do here. It’s incredibly exhausting for them, but they push through because it’s what they have to do to survive. I really admire all of them for being so determined and emotionally strong. After we got the last set of school assessments completed, we took a short break and headed to Haile Resort – a resort founded by a famous Ethiopian Olympic runner. Cassie, Tau’Toya, and my mom got pedicures, and Tau’Toya and I both got massages. The rest of the group, either went swimming or sat by the lake and relaxed. I could hear Devon and Taryn laughing from my massage room. (Sounded like they were all having a great time!)

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Later, the group of us enjoyed the beautiful view of the lake and reminisced on the memories of our trip so far. Cheers to another wonderful day in this amazing country!

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“Goodbye Rain, Hello Resort” By:Tau’Toya Broadway

Thank God for 4×4 trucks in Africa during the rainy season. With special thanks to our three skillful drivers: Sisay, Abel and Mulay, we were able to haul through mucky mud and deep holes in the rain, to safely make it to Alamura primary school.

One of the drivers struggling to get through the mucky mud.

One of the drivers struggling to get through the mucky mud.

Alamura primary school is the first out of two schools that we will visit in the lovely city of Hawassa, to conduct anthropometric and dental assessments on the school children. The children of Alamura made us all feel welcomed with their genuine smiles and curious looks.

Breanna so kindly interacting with a few of the Alamura students.

Breanna so kindly interacting with a few of the Alamura students.

Preforming anthropometric and dental assessments on the children is a task that most of us have become nearly professionals at thanks to our training in Ethiopia. A great deal of the children at Alamura have never had what we call an “annual check-up”, so they were unfamiliar with the process of stepping on the scale to measure their weight, standing up straight to measure their height, bending their arms at an 90 degree angle to measure their arm circumference and opening up their mouths wide enough for us to see inside. The language barrier makes explaining things to the children slightly difficult to do on our own. The Hawassa University students are a tremendous help, we wouldn’t be able to perform the assessments proficiently without them.

Brock, a Hawassa University professor, assisting Veronica with anthropometric assessments.

Brock, a Hawassa University professor, assisting Veronica with anthropometric assessments.

I am glad we had the opportunity to work with children in different regions of Ethiopia to enlighten them about their health and of course their innocent and cheerful personalities are enjoyable to be around. Even though the children dislike for us to leave so soon, we had to go after we finished assessing all of the children in 2 hours. Once we said our goodbyes at the school, we began our journey back to the hotel for lunch and a small mid-day break. We united once again at 3pm to head to a resort and then to a lake to see African hippopotamuses. The warm southern styled Halie Resort is owned by a native Ethiopian Olympic runner, Halie Gebrselasie.

The beautiful Halie Gebrselassie Resort.

The beautiful Halie Gebrselassie Resort.

After a successful day of conducting research, a wade in the pool was ideally deserved. Special thanks to the supreme Dr.Willis for buying tickets, in which granted us access to the infinity swimming pool that overlooked Lake Awassa. Absolutely beautiful scenery for us to relax and socialize amongst each other. We will definitely come back to this resort, perhaps tomorrow!

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The African Hippos would have been a sight to see, but we sadly missed the hippos before they went back into the water. Even though we were unable to see the hippos, we were still able to observe wildlife in Africa beyond the books.

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The Ethiopia 2015 crew ended the eventful day at a relaxing restaurant that had nothing but goat meat on the menu with drinks, in which we all found appetizing.

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Today was finally the last day of our driving escapade. At least for the next ten days! We were up and ready quite early this morning in order to make it to Awassa in time to meet the Dean of Agriculture for Hawassa University as well the students and faculty members.

The drive to Awassa was definitely the best thus far. Not only was it the shortest, but also the most scenic. All the way to Awassa there was flat land, no mountains this time. It felt so weird since every other day we’ve been in Ethiopia, we’ve been either ascending or descending a mountain. I enjoyed the valley. Everything was different about it. The ground was cleaner, the vegetation more singular and desert like and an overall more spacious environment. There was a nice cool breeze as well that made the ride even more enjoyable. We were lucky enough to see some monkeys relaxing in the cacti as we drove by. We passed dozens of farmers, both male and female, making their commute to work with their lunch in hand. They all wore maroon uniforms with these cute straw hats to protect them from the harsh sun.

We stopped at a hotel for lunch where I found Mule devouring my birthday cake! He had it everywhere. I was only able to snag a small piece but I was happy the drivers were able to enjoy some too.

Once we arrived in Awassa, we immediately went to see the Dean of Agriculture. He was a very intelligent man and quite the comedian. He gave us a very warm welcome and even had a video prepared, highlighting the great qualities and accomplishment of the University. After a quick introduction, we were able to get a tour of the campus. The students of Awassa University were very sweet and gave us a thorough tour of their school. I really enjoyed the campus. It was peaceful and large with trees and flowers covering every inch of the land. The vibe of the school definitely festered an environment for learning.

After that we headed back to the hotel. The rooms were very nice and the WiFi was great! So I could not complain! Tonight is our first night using a mosquito net as well. Wish us luck!

Mule eating ALL of my cake

Mule eating ALL of my cake

Students learning about one of the labs at Awassa University

Students learning about one of the labs at Awassa University

A green house at the University

A green house at the University

Agricultural research fields on campus

Agricultural research fields on campus

But first….CHEESE! by Cassie Brown

We woke up today smiling because we were in Addis Ababa, at the Nexus hotel. We were able to sleep in today, because we didn’t have too much planned. The rest was VERY much needed. We skipped happily down to breakfast and feasted on freshly squeezed orange juice, banana bread, toast and peanut butter, fresh watermelon, and various traditional Ethiopian dishes. The two of us that are sick and have no voice sipped on the “special tea” that the restaurant served. It was filled with honey, lemon, ginger, black pepper, and some other special ingredients. It will clear you up! After finishing our coffee, we headed off to do some shopping. First we went to a HUGE supermarket. This place was so nice and had basically everything that you could want! Many of us got new hair products and facemasks. We also bought chips (we were TOO excited for these,) coffee beans (we actually bought the store out of this particular brand,) cheese (don’t even get us started,) the biggest bottles of water that you have ever seen, teff powder, and even more shiro mix. We all really scored at this store!

Our awesome hotel, The Nexus!

Our awesome hotel, The Nexus!

Next we headed off to do a little shopping at a few small stores in Addis. They had everything from soccer jerseys, traditional shirts and dresses, coffee pots, honey wine glasses, tiny handmade baskets, maps of Africa, and intricate scarves. After spending a while here, we were all pretty shopped out! We headed back to the hotel to spend our afternoon drinking coffee, writing our journals, and napping. We were definitely not mad about this relaxing day!

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Our Ethiopia soccer jerseys.

Today was a special day for a member of our group. A wonderful person named, Taryn, had a birthday today!   Yesterday we talked to the hotel restaurant manager about making a cake for her. We were really excited about surprising her with this! Tonight, at the beginning of dinner, one of the employees wheeled out a cart that had two cakes on it. One chocolate cake and one vanilla cake was delivered to us. The cakes both had “Happy Birthday” written on it, and we even had them write her name in Amharic on each of the cakes. On the cart, along with the cakes, were candles, roses, and even a banner that said “Happy Birthday.” It was perfect! She was surprised and we were really happy about eating cake. It was a win-win! We finished dinner, ate some cake, told Taryn again “Happy Birthday,” and headed back to our rooms to pack and go to sleep so we could gain the strength for our 5-hour drive tomorrow!

Taryn's wonderful birthday cake!

Taryn’s wonderful birthday cake!

Taryn and her birthday cake!

Taryn and her birthday cake!

To Addis! By Veronica Bair

Today we drove from Kombolcha to Addis Ababa, the capital city, and stayed in the great Nexus hotel. We got on the road with no problems or delay, which was pretty amazing for us. But after being on the road for a couple hours, we stopped to get bunna (coffee), only to discover one of the cars had a flat tire. Thankfully the drivers were prepared with spare tires, and they were quickly able to change the flat. Our entire time in Ethiopia has been a lesson in patience, and not stressing about things not going to plan.

Our drivers fixing our flat tire

Our drivers fixing our flat tire

As usual, the drive was filled with dodging animals and humans. But as we were heading back to the capital of Ethiopia, it was like returning to civilization. Funny how our perspective has changed after being in Ethiopia for a couple weeks.

The beautiful view of the mountains along our drive

The beautiful view of the mountains along our drive

At one stop along the way, there were people selling bags and hats made from local wool, which were really cool.

An Ethiopian trying to convince us to all buy his hats

An Ethiopian trying to convince us to all buy his hats

Along the way to Addis, we stopped for lunch at a cool little restaurant owned by an Ethiopian Olympic medalist. Ethiopia is home to many great long distance runners, which isn’t surprising, as many of the Ethiopians are built like runners, slim and strong, and they grow up in the high altitude, with great endurance from climbing all over the mountains.

The long days of traveling get pretty tiring, but at least we have our drivers and great music to keep us going!

The African Jerusalem by Amanda Kolman

(Due to issues with wifi connections, a couple of these posts are a few days late.)

Today was our first venture out in Lalibela. Right after getting out of the car we were greeted by a group of kids who all spoke English very well.  Some became friends with us right away and Tau’Toya’s new little friend told us that he was aspiring to be a doctor some day.

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Tau’Toya and her awesome new friend.

Our adventure into Lalibela was one I think most of us sat back and thought, “Is this really our life?” I say this because we had the opportunity to see the monolithic rock churches from the 12th century. The rock churches are considered to be the “African Jerusalem.” This is apparent, as it is a replica of Jerusalem itself led by Saint Lalibela after Jerusalem was taken over by the Muslims. They consist of eleven churches total hand carved and built from rock, 6 of which are connected through an underground tunnel. It took 23 years to finish building all of the churches.

We were able to see most of the churches as well as experience traveling from one church to the next through the underground tunnels. This was an adventure in itself as we did a train line, holding onto the person in front of us and then having our hand above touching the ceiling so we did not hit our heads. We had the option to take the way with light, but we thought it would be more fun and basically turned into an entire teamwork deal. The only downside to this was also walking in the presence of a few bats that were fortunately asleep while we were in there.

The time spent into building the churches was obvious by the beauty displayed in the artwork, and every design in the church had a meaning. Whether that was to symbolize Mary, Jesus’ birth and death, or something to do with the twelve apostles, everything symbolized holiness in some way. We had our tour of the churches the day before a holiday, which was Saint Michael’s Day. One of the churches is named after Saint Michael and when we went inside there were people crowded into the small area praying and preparing to celebrate his holy day.  There was one room in Saint Michael’s church where women were not allowed to go into so the two men on the trip were able to see everything but the rest of us women had to stay out in the other worship room.

Example of the designs on the outsides of the churches.

Example of the designs on the outsides of the churches.

Our fearless leader Jon with a priest.

Our fearless leader Jon with a priest

Example of the beautiful paintings in the churches.

Example of the beautiful paintings in the churches.

It is always amazing how devout people are to their religion here in Ethiopia. If they are committed, they put in one hundred percent. They travel from all around to experience the different holy days. It is said that Christian’s in Ethiopia are expected to take a trip to Lalibela to the churches at least once during their lifetime. There were multiple holes or small pools about 9 meters deep around the outside of the churches where baptism could take place. There was one hole that is said to help infertile women if they are devout enough, than God will grant them fertility after being dunked into the holy water around Christmas time.

Worshiping outside for Saint Michael's Day.

Worshiping outside for Saint Michael’s Day.

Since there were so many churches to see, we took a break halfway through for some lunch. The entire restaurant was like “being inside and injera basket” so to say with its beautiful woven colorful ceiling. The menu’s were also beautifully designed, basically like a page in a scrapbook. After lunch we continued our adventure, this time with a little unexpected hiking involved and climbing up “stairs” that were made from the rock and dust throughout the churches. Always an adventure, but never a dull moment. We saw more of the churches but I think we can all agree they really did save the best for last. Saint George’s church was something to remember for a lifetime. It was underground and the top of the roof was shaped as a cross. This was a very famous view from the Lalibela churches. Once we traveled from the top to the bottom of the church we were able to see the remains of a skeleton that was believed to be someone traveling from Jerusalem. Being around that history in itself was something amazing. Picturing what life must have been like traveling thousands of miles for a better life and religion. 10404255_10204535477211620_6236634682439169617_n

Group photo in front of Saint George's Church.

Group photo in front of Saint George’s Church.

Side view of Saint George's Church

Side view up top of Saint George’s Church.

It was a great day of exploration and we ended it with a bit more shopping.