February 28, 2005

Wednesday - day off

I gather that you in the U.S. are not celebrating the holiday we have today. Today marks the Battle of Adwa, a decisive battle where Ethiopian forces defeated invading Italians over a hundred years ago. (Editor's note: I'm trying to confirm the specifics on this battle i.e. dates and relevance, but my wife is not helping too much). So anyway, we've got a lovely day off.

Well, the clouds have disappeared; we seem to be back in for hot weather, and things are going well in Addis. The dog got into the neighbor's yard again. I heard him "yipping" in the morning and, fearing he would wake the neighbors, rushed downstairs to deal out some lessons in silence. When I opened the door, though, and called the dog, he was nowhere to be seen, until I turned to the left and saw him through the gap between our big hedge and the wall separating our yard from the neighbors. I thought I'd fixed the problem a few days earlier by placing some metal sheeting in front of the area he had previously climbed through, but no deal. The neighbors still haven't said anything, so maybe we'll be okay. For now, though, the dog is sitting on his chain, until I can arrange a permanent solution.

What else? The politics surrounding our research paper at the clinic have once again flared up, but as I've kind of grown to expect, probably everything will work out. The latest incident involved my co-researcher getting a dressing-down from a high-level NGO official involved in the project who didn't feel he'd been adequately informed. If it goes through, this paper will be a really nice feather in the cap, but it certainly has taken some effort to even get to the point where we are almost finished with the research.

Boy, I've got all sorts of time to write today and nothing to put down. Let me see if I can strain my brain and tap into some reservoir that will bring out a few paragraphs. The pregnancy is going well. My wife is reluctant to let the information out widely - just a personal decision. But, as I keep telling her, it's going to get out at some point. Anyway, the baby is healthy. I missed the last visit to the doctor, but apparently, the ultrasound showed a nice heartbeat, so that's definitely nice.

We haven't done too much to get ready for the whole thing. I don't know if we should be planning. Another American/Ethiopian couple I'm friends with said they would not have any kids in Ethiopia out of safety concerns. We don't feel the same way, as babies are delivered here every day by the 1,000s - it's just a matter of finding the right doctor, right clinic, and going through with it. While I want assurance that everything in the delivery will go fine, you can never get that anyway and besides, I want our kid to be born here. So, sometime in July, we'll be looking at a new addition to the family.

The brother-in-law just arrived for the morning's work. Yesterday, we had a heart-to-heart because I felt bad about not providing him with more activities/responsibilities. I know from experience how bad it can feel if you have a job that doesn't allow you to really sink your teeth into it. So I explained to him how valuable his service was to me and that he should really think about filling his time at work with learning activities -whatever he wants, when I don't have anything for him to do.

I guess I should back up and give you more details of what we do. I hired my brother-in-law over a month ago for $45 a month to show up daily at my place and be on call. Because I'm often around town during the day, there's a lot of stuff I can't get done, so I have him do it. Although he lacks formal education, which prevents him from getting hired in other contexts, he's very bright and talented and a big help to me. I know all of my American readers will agree that $50 a month is definitely worth it to have someone on call, probably even a steal - here it's a good deal on all sides. Actually, he will probably save me his salary in savings on purchases that I would otherwise be making and getting taken advantage of on.

So, he's a good addition. Plus, during the down times when I'm not as busy around town, he's great company.

It was funny, yesterday we stopped to pick up my driver's license from impound. When I got my ticket, my license was taken to the Department of Traffic and something else. However, I had to pay my ticket at another office. Finally, yesterday, I had the time to stop off and pick up my license.

The window where licenses are returned was around on the side of the building, kind of in the shadows. There was no one around on the side, just a lot of traffic police milling around. The actual pick-up window looked kind of like a jail cell. As I grabbed my license and walked out, one of the police officers couldn't help but give me a little smile and I couldn't help but return it. Anyway, it's back in my pocket and I am now a reformed driver.

I'll leave you there. My uncle says to write every day, and I'm assuming that means even when it's painful because you have no material. Hope you all are well.



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