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Published: August 10th 2009
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As the heavens opened I looked out my hotel window and noticed this colourful group waiting for a bus.
It is summer and still I wear long pants and a jumper. This is on account of it being the wet season which dramatically changes the temperature. Every afternoon the sky darkens and the thunder warns of the imminent downpour. It pours for up to an hour and then the skies turn blue again and life continues as though without interruption.
Mekele is a large town/small city with a lot of people (not really sure about the number as each person that I talk to suggests a different number) somewhere in the vicinity of between 120,000 to 400,000. Compared to its capital Addis Ababa, Mekele is clean, quiet and orderly. Although herds of donkeys (piled high with charcoal or hay), sheep and goats, cattle, horse drawn carts, tuk tuks and general traffic compete for the road it could definately be called ordered chaos. Driving on the other side of the road is not unheard of as is stopping in the middle of the street is you so desire.
I have never seen so many 4WD's here as I have outside a private school at 3pm. They are all relatively new and drive anyone from tourists to diplomats and aid workers around the city. We are fortunate enough to have our own driver and car. It is actually quite an unusual feeling and it means some loss of control on my part, which I guess is part and parcel of travelling to foreign destinations. At the moment we are living out of our suitcases (or backpacks in my case) still in a hotel, however this will change as of next weekend when we move in to an apartment at in the middle of the town.
As for the people they are very friendly and helpful and many speak English of some kind. Those that don't speak English just yell greetings of 'Faranji' (aka. foreigner) like I didn't realise this, or 'Money' (aka. give me money) like a crude hello. These mostly come from young boys who I have been told live on the streets because they are naughty and have been kicked out of home. Those lucky enough to go to school learn English from grade 1 until they finish. However I am still struggling with the accent and sometimes find myself with a strange expression on my face trying desperately to clean out my ears, certain that it is I who doesn't understand English. So I have deemed it necessary to learn their language so that we can speak Engopian!
As for a job, Chris' is going well although it certainly seems to come with its frustrations. I am heading out tomorrow in search of one now that I have recovered from all the obligatory illnesses of travelling to a foreign place! I wish everyone well where ever they may be and look forward to hearing from you soon.
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