Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tale of Two Neighborhoods

For the last two days, I've been living in an apartment on the campus of Hope University College, where the International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia (ILAE), the high school I'm visiting, has its offices and classrooms. The attractive, open campus is located right near the relatively new district of Jemo (ጀሞ). Dawit, the physics and math teacher at ILAE, told me that few "faranjis" (ፈረንጅ = foreigner or "whitey") come to this area, so I'll probably be more of a curiosity here than in other parts of the city. Jemo's relative lack of experience with tourists should allow for more interactions in Amharic.
Jemo is a relatively recent neighborhood in the south of Addis featuring multistory apartment complexes. The yellow shape at the bottom shows the footprint of Hope University College.
Satellite view. Jemo is clearly a planned neighborhood.
My apartment is at the southwest corner of the northeast building, which is reserved for guests and faculty.
A view of the apartments. There are many unoccupied because the school is still adding one grade per year. ILAE will be fully enrolled and staffed by the fall of 2016.
The view from my balcony of the auditorium/church at the center of campus.
Another view from my balcony. I attempted a run up that hill in the background, but I didn't get very far. I'll try again once I'm over jet lag and better adjusted to the 8,000 feet above sea level.
It's a whole different world on that hill where there's no chance of speaking any English. I can't wait to explore more. Maybe I'll work up some questions for this young cowherd.


On the other hand, during my first two days I stayed in a very different neighborhood (Mekanisa) that contains many embassies and expatriates, so my presence on the streets did not arouse much attention. I spent most of that time walking around, going to Western-style coffee shops, and chatting with Almaz, an Ethiopian-born woman who rents rooms in her beautiful house. As Almaz has spent more than half of her life in America, leaving as a refugee through Sudan and ending up in the Boston area, we spoke exclusively in English. Yet I was able to get my linguistic feet wet by practicing greetings with the few helpers she employs.
Mekanisa is also known as "Old Airport." If I get over to the golf club, I'll look for the old landing strip.
Almaz's house is at the end of that curved road just above the roundabout that joins Egypt and Lesotho Streets.
A close up view. Her compound is next to those trees in the upper left corner.
A view of the yard from my balcony.
Seeing English words (Vatican Embassy, in this case) transliterated into Amharic helps me practice the Fidel and test my own spelling intuition. Amharic tends to err towards longer vowels when transliterating English; thus the words above might be pronounced more like Va-tee-can Aim-ba-see.
The Saharawi Republic is not part of the United Nations, but it was extended membership in the African Union. The "wi" sound that makes a word into an adjective (which I wrote about earlier) shows another linguistic connection between Arabic and Amharic.
In addition to embassies, the area has a lot of schools. I'll use this photo if I need to talk about math.
The Robust Academy needs some more robust artwork.
Dinner on my first night in Addis. Almaz opened up a bottle of Cabernet and used some of the Tillamook Cheese I brought for her. The topic of adoption dominated our conversation, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Almaz worked eight years for All God's Children in Portland, Oregon, adopted twins domestically in Ethiopia, and has foster parents in Maine. Her life story is one of resilience and independence. Great woman.
The Ethiopian Cabernet was pretty good! It's a young industry now, but I expect it will grow very rapidly. ThirdEyeMom wrote a nice blog about Ethiopia's Castel winery.
Almaz and her brother Yohannes with the twins.
A big lunch on my second day. The injera was delicious and very dark...definitely 100% teff flour. Almaz's niece on the left did most of the cooking. Delicious food.
I plan to see Almaz at least once more before I leave. I also hope to visit with members of Lulit's family, who also live in the Mekanisa area. While I enjoyed the comforts of the neighborhood, it's better for me to be in Jemo, where people on the street typically won't speak to me in English. However, it's nice to know the comfort of a real flaky croissant is only an hour's dusty walk away.
A morning treat at Bilo's Pastry Cafe. Lulit told me this was her favorite cafe.
Just in case I was missing a particular American coffee chain.
The gate at Lulit's family's house. Lulit had pointed her house out on Google Earth, so it was not hard to find.
I will resist the desire to go back and sleep in my bed at Almaz's house.
Finally, enjoy this quick tour of my apartment on the Hope University College Campus. You'll see evidence of persistent jet lag in my introduction. Also, I probably should not have worn flip-flops to make this video!

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