America's Fall of the Derg Celebration

July 6th 2009
Published: July 6th 2009
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How is everyone doing? I hope everyone had a very safe Fourth of July. I would say there was a fair amount of celebrating here in Ethiopia. Everyone met up at their consolidation points. Bahir Dar, a city about 20 hours on a bus north of me, had a very large group meet up there, as well as, Dessie, which had a few meet there. Hawassa, had the biggest group, consisting of about 16 volunteers. We had hot dogs, hamburgers, beer, Jungle Juice (we called it Freedom Juice instead), a beautiful day with no rain, and a baby monkey. Now from the things I listed here it sounds like any other Fourth of July party. But like everything in Ethiopia, it is never as easy as it sounds. For instance, hamburgers, we had to go to a butcher on the side of the road that hacked off 2 kilos of meat from a carcass. Then we had to take that to a person who specializes in meat grinding. We had two charcoal stoves, each with a circular grill six inches across. The girls, Bonnie, Marina, and CR, all did a great job with the food. Our Jungle Juice was a bucket with 8 liters of water, 3 liters of Gin, A jar of Mango Tang, and a jar of Orange Tang. It was sickly sweet but had a great deal of Vitamin C in it. Scurvy is still something to worry about. The beer was also a bit of challenge. You have to put a deposit on the bottles so everyone has to finish their beer before you can get another case. Then you have to walk about three quarters of a mile to pick up the beer and walk it back. Luckily, I am getting really good at balancing things on my head, which gives the locals something to laugh at.

Awassa has a series of drainage ditches next to the main roads to rid the city of rainwater during rainy season. The problem with these is that on certain parts there is no covering for these. Sean, PCV, found this out the hard way by missing the step and falling in. He scraped the mess out of his shin and thigh. When got back to my house and started to clean up his leg. That’s when I realized the loose skin had flipped up underneath the attached skin. All I could see was his muscles and bone moving in layers. Worst scrape I have every seen. He went to the hospital and got his stitches. He is doing much better now.

I am so busy right now. It is unbelievable how sometimes all your deadlines fall together. I am working on three projects right now.

Newsletter - I am doing the next newsletter for the forum. Did I tell you that because of how good the last one looked. The forum’s donors all pitched in to create a new position, Project Manager, on the stipulation that they would have a column to announce their regional news. I think that is pretty cool especially when you think that it only took me two weeks of work and I can already see results of my being here.

Resource Mapping - I am putting together the questionnaire of all of the Health Organizations in our Region. Then we will hold a training to teach people how to conduct this questionnaire. After that we send them off for a month to collect data. It will come back to me and I will do a bit of Data Analysis and do a small writeup. That will be it for that project.

Burquito Hot Springs - I just got on with this project. My friend, Abel, is an eco-tour guide based here in Awassa. He is really smart and has a lot of great ideas. One of those is working with the Burquito Hot Springs. The project would consist of placing formal facilities there, cleaning up all of the trash, stop all clothes washing in the hot springs, charge a small admission fee, and hiring people to work there. I am going to help him draw up a project proposal and apply for some funding. This project really doesn’t have anything to do with HIV/AIDS but this is something that I think will be fun and lasting.

Some people have been having trouble mailing letters, so just as a reminder my address is :
John Lamon
PO Box 1298

So how is everything in the states going? We get news but only the major headlines. The whole Micheal Jackson thing has been really weird. People slowly starting hearing he was dead and now you can’t walk anywhere without hearing his music coming from a store or some random set of speakers. Friday night, my friend DJ LOVE, played an all MJ playlist at one of Hawassa’s bars.

That is pretty much all I can think of for right now. Oh, I can’t remember the country code for Ethiopia but my new phone number for the time being is Country Code + 910431895. My family has been buying phone cards at the dollar store and drug stores so if anyone wants to give me a call go for it. I hope everyone had a great weekend and is ready for the work week.


6th July 2009

Country Code
Sounds like you had a cool 4th... this time next week I will be leaving the States for a month in Ethiopia... I can't wait... anyways the country code for Ethiopia is 251. Tsega
6th July 2009

Well, I must say . . . I'm a bit jealous of your 4th of July celebration. It sounded much more eventful and fun than mine was. I didn't even get to enjoy hamburgers and hot dogs. I just went to Brew Co. and listened to Canago. It seems like your having an awesome and a very self-fulfilling time over there. Keep up the great work and stay safe. Oh, and I still haven't received a letter from you, but I'm looking forward to it! Talk to you soon, Buddy. Peace~Shkala
8th July 2009

Mike's in SA right now, and I leave for Kenya on Saturday. We'll be right next door to you! Terrible drought in Kasigau, so we've been told no showers while in bush camp. Ugh. That's 2 weeks, Johnny. You and Brian would have had a heyday.
12th July 2009

Happy Fourth!
John! Sounds like an eventful Fourth of July. Nothing says Independence like having the freedom to hack up carcasses and personally transport them to a sweaty guy who grinds the animal remains into an edible patty. DELICIOUS! And what's a holiday without injury? It sounds like you are having a truly amazing time. I love that you have taken on all of these projects. You're really making the most of your time in the Peace Corps. I admire that so much. I spent my Fourth of July eating Reindeer Corndogs at a street festival in Anchorage, AK. It is so beautiful up there! You will have to visit sometime when you get the chance. It's totally up your alley! I went white water rafting, mountain climbing and I even did the back country Stampede Trail Jeep Safari where Chris McCandles died (the Into the Wild guy). The best part about Alaska in the summer is, THE SUN NEVER GOES DOWN! I hope to talk to you soon. I'm moving to NYC at the end of August, so I'm busy wrapping things up here in Cincinnati. Stay in touch!

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