Friday, September 07, 2007


TIA, originally a quote from the movie "Blood Diamond", and recently incorporated into missionary jargon here in Addis. It means "This Is Africa", and is usually used in frustrating situations where things don't seem to work or when things are just crazy different than what you're used to.

For example, a month ago I was walking to lunch and saw a dead rooster in a drain, 20 inch elephantitis on a begger, and many people begging who had no eyes. None of these things are unusual here, but they all happened within ten minutes. It's also fun when you try to have a broken english conversation with someone to ask one question and it takes a half hour. Not to mention the massive pollution which makes blowing your nose an hourly requirement. There's always people on the streets. It's freezing in June-September. There's mud and standing water everywhere.

These are the things that make living in Addis "a little better than camping."

It's interesting to take the TIA concept to a different African country, Egypt. Egypt has a 20% tourism boost in GDP that Ethiopia doesn't have, and it shows. I only saw about 4 beggers the entire ten day trip. You usually see triple that if you take a 5 minute walk anywhere in Addis. We took a public bus from Luxor to Hurgada. The bus looked just like those in the states, and we had asphalt road the entire way through the desert. In Addis, there is not asphalt anywhere without pot holes if you're even lucky enough to have paved roads, and public transportation is never a safe option. I'll admit, the Egyptian bus broke down in the desert, but TIA!

All of the taxis in Cairo looked much nicer than all the ones in Addis, all the stores sold nicer things, and all the buildings looked newer. Even in Cairo, which has 5 times the population of Addis, the pollution was not nearly as bad. The Egyptions even "down country" did not stare and point at white people and yell forenj (foreigner in amharic). I think that's because they are used to seeing many foreigners due to the tourism. They can even tell Americans from Chinese!

Also, you can go to university in Egypt and major in tourism! You learn how to handle foreigners and even learn a few foreign languages. This seems silly, but gives lots of good paying jobs to the middle class and even opens doors for jobs abroad with the language skills. It was a bit weird to be walking in a museum and see one Egyptian speaking Spanish to one group, and then another speaking Chinese to another group.

All of this is to say that living in Africa is interesting, and gets even more interesting after traveling to other African countries to compare and contrast. I still love my friends and co-workers here in Addis as well as the food. However, I see more now what need there is in Ethiopia and how different it is even from other countries close to here. Ciao from Addis.


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