Ethiopian Updates

This is a fine pickle, I must say. I’m spending the weekend at the Addis Regency Hotel, which is a kind of mid-level hotel somewhere in the city, because the power has been off altogether at Selamta all day, from about 10 am onwards. Faced with the prospect of spending the weekend alone, in an empty building in a partly build suburban neighborhood without internet and possibly without power, I moved to the Regency. Nobody could even access their computers today. We will see what Monday brings.

It isn’t even that the internet is scarce. It’s that it’s impossible to access things like Facebook, Twitter…and most importantly, Salesforce. I haven’t been able to get into the database that powers my livelihood, my travels and my career since I arrived.

Jet lag is also a fairly significant issue this time. By the time I arrived on Wednesday morning, I’d had a total of five hours’ sleep over 48 hours. I spent Wednesday sleeping all day–I never do that! I remember the teachable moment some years back when JF lead a group of Southern Methodist University students to France and it took me a full week to recover from the jet lag because I kept having these little “naps” every afternoon. From then on, I’ve just powered through that first day, no matter where it is.
This time, my resolve just collapsed. All I wanted to do was sleep. Nothing else on God’s green earth mattered. So sleep I did. And now, of course, I’m reaping what I sowed.
I’ve been drinking this wonderful coffee several times a day, but it just flat doesn’t work. So I’m awake starting at about midnight, off and on, for the rest of the night, and start getting woozy sleepy off and on all day.
Of course, if I could actually do any work, I’m pretty sure that would keep me mostly awake, and occupy my time when I couldn’t sleep. As it is, I’m plowing through the books I brought. I never expected three books to last me for two months, but The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America is simply melting beneath my fingers.
So what else is new? My friend Susan Cunningham–who is now in Myanmar (which I still think of as Burma)– informs me that the King of Thailand just died, the oldest monarch still sitting on the throne. That leaves Elizabeth in England, I understand.
My health seems to be lurching along without major issues, unless you count sleeping at all hours of the day. I haven’t had dinner at any of the family homes yet. Abel, the local director here, suggested that I spend more time with the families as a way to deal with the lack of work that can get done. Most of the volunteers who come to Selamta, he said, find the time they spend with the families the most rewarding. That makes sense, of course, because most volunteers come here to work WITH the kids and the families in one way or another.
For me, it’s the staff of the organization that I want to get to know, both for work and also for pleasure. This isn’t usual, I suspect.  Today, I told Staff Manager Dureti straight out that I have been feeling lonely here. I guess that’s an accurate description of my state. The last time I came, there were the Canadians, Cori and Christine, and Melissa, the soap maker, and Marisa with her daughter Lily, and many others who passed through.
And I also just got here from my own version of the Cast of Thousands– Dreamforce.
I’m suddenly without a sidekick, a snuggly bear, or a traveling accomplice. And I’m suddenly without anything but Gmail over the internet. No wonder I’m feeling as though the rug were just yanked out from under me.
On the other hand, this state of mind is not unknown to the Intrepid Traveler…or even the Trepidatious Traveler, for that matter. Nobody who travels alone can escape this loneliness from time to time. Sunday, local director Abel will pick me up at 8:15 to go to church with his family. I brought my long black dress and spectacular silk scarf that goes with it– thank goodness I have a dress-up-dress!
I did have a wild fantasy just now…Susan in Myanmar sent me a piece about the new Chinese railroad between Addis and Djibouti and lamenting the old, neglected French one. Gawd, to hop on a train and GO somewhere! Not just sit here watching “That site cannot be reached” come up every time I try to access Salesforce. I doubt I’ll be that foolish, what with the State of Emergency here and the Unrest in the Countryside. Abel did say that if I took a PLANE to Lalibela, that would probably work fine. Just fly over the revolution, hey!
Here’s a news article about the unrest. It doesn’t go in depth about the heavy-handed way the government here is proceeding with industrial development at any price.