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Ethiopia by E-mail

Date: Thu, 06 Jan 2005 11:39:56 -0600
From: "James E. Rollin, Ph.D." <rollin@uic.edu>

I [Pat] am now in Ethiopia and have spent one night. We walked around today in the neighborhood. We went to the grocery to get milk, breakfast food and lunch fixings. We went to bank to change dollars into birr. The exchange rate today was 8.6523 so $100 was 865.23 birr. So you get a lot of bills back. We went to the grocery store and bought Quaker Oats 500 g for 18.05 birr and a box of cereal 375 g for 29.05 birr. Which is about $2.25 and $3.60 so I guess it is not too bad. I am having a hard time because it looks so expensive but when you think about the exchange rate it is not so expensive. I will have to learn how to shop and where it is the least expensive. Jim has been going to three different stores depending on what he wants to buy. They are about 3 blocks apart. The road by the apartment is like Bay Road, a lot of stores and shops. We went to the laundry to get Jim's clothes and put more in. They have to count every item with you and write them down on the receipt they give you. Then they had to count all items you were getting back and show you that everything was there and they are all in plastic bags. Jim takes his clothing bag and then they put all the items in his bag.

Mom is having a little problem with the altitude of Addis. Jim said it would take a couple of days to get adjusted. She did not sleep too well. I was tired and then we got up and everyone took a shower. We have a handle shower and it may take a little adjustment on my part. I did not want to hog all the water so I got wet and soap up and then rinsed off. Jim said it takes about 2 hours to the water tank to reheat. Jim showered last and we all had hot water. He told use all to keep the plug into the tub so if the water goes out during your shower you can rinse off in the water in the tub.

I guess I will be able to learn to live here. They have a lot of people out begging on the street and since we don't understand the language we don't know why they need money. Jim said not to give money out on the street. Mom seen someone dressed nice in a suit taking stuff from street kids on the corner, Jim said he has been told that all the beggars are organized like in Oliver Twists. He does not give to most people on the street.

We have no TV and we are just visiting and hanging out. I did ome straitening out of the kitchen. I have to get a few things like waste baskets, knives and silverware, more dishes and some containers to store stuff. I have put a calendar and a picture of Ashleigh, Taylor and Nancy's family on the wall. Yonas cleaned our apartment before we got here and he decorated the window with angels, candle, stars, Christmas trees and a little girl, which he cut out of different color plastic Green, red, yellow, blue and white.) We will take a picture and mail it later if it shows up.

I guess that is about all for now. I am not sure what we are doing the next few days. They have Christmas trees up in all the stores and outside some of them. It looks a little strange to me with all the flowers and green grass around here. They have palm trees and it looks a lot like Arizona especially coming from the airport.



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