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Ethiopia by E-mail

Subject: Good day from Addis Ababa April 9th
Date: Sat, 9 Apr 2005 10:17:53 +0300
From: Pat Rollin

Market in Addis Ababa We are doing well. There are changes taking place in Addis. We went to the open air market on last Saturday and shopped for fresh fruit and vegetables and some yarn. Then on Tuesday night we went again to the same market and half of it was bulldozed down. It was like an alley with stalls on both sides and then behind the left side was stalls you could walk in a maze to shop at. These stalls were all gone and the ground flattened. We were very surprised and asks what was going on. They do not talk much English but someone told us they are building a Japanese supermarket so we will have to watch and see. Some of the stalls that were on the southwest side had moved into the northeast side now and some of the stalls I had shopped at on the southeast side are gone. We went down today and found them building already. Addis Ababa Market Stall The pictures we are sending show both sides of the alley. One side is empty with construction starting and the other side is stalls like the second close up picture we included. The stalls that were taken down were on vacant property. All property is owned by the government and leased by someone. Empty areas fill up with people migrating from the countryside trying to find a better life but when someone wants to build on the area, the government comes in and bulldozes everything down.

On the Bole Road one of the supermarkets, Fantu has closed for remodeling they said but they have started to tear the building down so I guess remodeling in this case means a whole new store building. Thomas told me it will take 2 to 3 years before it is open again. I am not sure why but a lot of the stores have less items to sell. So I am not sure if it is just a delay in the imported stuff getting here or what. All the stores have empty shelves this week. We just buy what we find and can afford. So we have to shop a few more stores to get what we need. While we were shopping today we found out why Abrico has empty shelves, it is closed permanently. Pat was in there yesterday and it was business as usual with a few empty shelves but when we tried to go in today, it was closed and they were hauling things out to the Abrico down the street so now there are two less grocery stores in the neighborhood.

I am still going to Gemini Trust Youth Center twice a week. I enjoy it but I am not sure how much good I am doing. The students I think are teaching me more then I am teaching them. If we come back next year I will not volunteer here because of the location. It is a trip and I have not found a cheap way to get there. Jim and I have not been able to figure out the line taxis to the place and he is not sure how safe it is for me to travel there alone. It is not easy getting around here sometimes. So I take the contract cab. Thomas is our main driver but has a couple of others who take me when he is busy. It is 30 birr a trip which the students tell me is too expensive. They come by bus and it is 50 cents a trip and cheaper because they get student fees on week days. 30 birr is only about $3.50 but to these students that is a lot of money. They told me some of their homes they rent for 100 birr a month which to them is very expensive. Of course they are like all Ethiopians and think all Americans are rich and can afford anything. It is kind of funny because I have told them we are volunteers so now they tell me I am not a rich American because I don't get money for being here. I have also told them I had to buy my own airplane ticket to come and that they did buy Jim's ticket to come and we only get the apartment we live in for working at the University. It is better that they think we are living not to well so I don't get asks for a lot of money. We get a lot of people wanting us to give them money or buy stuff from them on the street. Jim did buy a watch the other day. The man started off at 150 birr and Jim told him 25 birr and he said ok after a little haggling back and forth. So now we have a watch. That is how he got a set of sheets too. To get rid of the hawkers, Jim tells them that he will pay a really low price that he does not think that they will take and that is his last offer. Sometimes they take it like they did for the watch & sheets. In Ethiopia there are two prices for stuff. Even at the open air market we pay more than the locals. It is called foreignee price. I have bought a couple more pillars from the art students and have another one ordered. They are making me special ones that are shorter in length so they will fit in my suitcase. I have to be careful about the weight now.

Jim has now been able to get all the students in field placements and they are working on next year's schedule for classes. So even if the students are not at the University he is still very busy. They are starting to review applications for next year's group of students and plan when the test will be. He is still trying to figure out how to make sites visits to all the students placements. The University does not have any cars available and we are not sure where all the sites are so he has to call them and find out what he can arrange if he decides to go by contract cab. Where you go is how the cab driver sets the price of the cab.

St. Matthews Church has now been rearranged to the formal setting of the chairs and the altar. For Easter they change the way the church is set up so now we see where the altar is supposed to be in front of a stain glass window. We still enjoy attending and this week they had a guest speaker who came down from the pulpit and gave a wonderful sermon with out any notes or papers to look at. He did put his notes on the pulpit. Of course Lent and Easter is over so a lot less people were there this week. I really like the walk we have to get to church from the line taxi stop and the gardens we sit in when we first get there. It is a really nice way to start the day before church and worship with God, seeing the beauty of God's world.

We are still not sure of our plans for next year. The students have told me that Jim has promised to come back and see them through graduation. I am not sure he did and we will see. IFESH has sent a letter to IFESH Ethiopia with a list of names of teachers coming back to Ethiopia and Jim's name is on it. Jim signed a two year lease for the apartment and we will probably come back for another year. We will make sure we leave money for the electricity and phone so we don't have to start trying to get a phone installed again. I have started making a list of stuff to bring back with us. But he has not gotten an official letter from IFESH so we are waiting to see. I know he wants to see the first class graduate but living here is not as easy as living in the USA.

Jim & Pat


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