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January 11th 2014
Published: January 12th 2014
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A gallery of friendship moments from 2013. Human contact is woven into life here in a way that would likely be considered "different" or uncomfortable at home. It starts with infants being carried on the backs of mothers, or when, mothers are occupied, the backs of older siblings. Boys and girls alike hold hands and even adults (including soldiers on public patrol) out for a stroll hold hands. So putting one's arm around the shoulder of a friend and affirming, "you are my friend" (guar-dane-ya in Amharic) is an every day occurrence.

I go most places by foot, although a 3 wheeled bajaj (better known as tuk tuks in India where they're manufactured) is handy for longer trips into Gondar's main square (the piazza) where North American staples like corn flakes and Snickers bars can be purchased. As a pedestrian I encounter many of the same shop keepers, school children, and people on the street every day. I'm hailed as John on my morning trek to the university and respond with a bow, a smile, a wave, a salute to guards at the bank, or, often, a handshake. For several weeks I'd meet an Ethiopian who's greeting was an exagerrated "Good morning America". A genuine hoot. It's fun and sparks a warmth of spirit I sense with regret I sometimes failed to bring to work in North America. Simple lesson for the future: walking and talking is good; driving and brooding not so good.

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Rainy Season BuddiesRainy Season Buddies
Rainy Season Buddies

We survived Ethiopia's 2013 rainy season together. Jassi (l) a public health master's degree student from San Francisco and Kristen (r) a master's degree student from Los Angeles.
Kristen & SunKristen & Sun
Kristen & Sun

Sun Ming Fei (l) a fellow VSO volunteer and IT expert (from PRC) sharing coffee with Kristen on a visit to Gondar.
Mark & EdenMark & Eden
Mark & Eden

Two special friends in Addis Ababa. Mark, a former VSO volunteer from Ireland, on the left and Eden, who represented VSO in welcoming me to Ethiopia on April 1, 2013.
A Young MerchantA Young Merchant
A Young Merchant

Helping customers at family's vegetable stand.

Children are everywhere in a country where a majority of the population teen age or younger.
Dr. FionaDr. Fiona
Dr. Fiona

With Dr. Fiona, an obstetrician from UK and fellow VSO volunteer.
Livin' it Up on a Friday After WorkLivin' it Up on a Friday After Work
Livin' it Up on a Friday After Work

From left Carmen (U.S. Peace Corps), Lisa (Austrian Red Cross), Dr. Alicia (U.S.) and Dr. Tamara (U.K.). Serving in Ethiopia attracts brilliant women.
Saying Good-bye to Bethlehem and Wendy at Saying Good-bye to Bethlehem and Wendy at
Saying Good-bye to Bethlehem and Wendy at

Wendy (r) taught nursing through a program run by the University of Leicester in England. When she left to return home to Guernsey Heather and I hosted her and an Ethiopian friend, Bethlehem, to dinner at 4 Sisters restaurant.
Reviewing my AppointmentReviewing my Appointment
Reviewing my Appointment

Staff pictured who participated in a year-end review of my appointment to Quality Assurance & Audit Office. As dedicated a group of educators as I've ever known.
Florida Hotel PoolFlorida Hotel Pool
Florida Hotel Pool

I've had many a meal at Florida International Hotel nearby the flat where I live. Hotel staff are wonderful. here I am with a guard and pool attendant.

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