Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ethiopia 2017 - Day 4. Being productive in Addis Ababa

I had a good working morning with Getachew; put us together and we can come up with new crazy ways to change the world! The end result is that we agreed to work on a proposal to US AID to offer (1) one-month summer courses in Ethiopia on Development and Management of Water Resources, Hydrogeology, Energy Generation, and Dry-Land Agriculture; (2) workshops for Science and Math teachers; (3) training for farmers in best practices fro organic farming and irrigation; and (4) a workshop in provincial strategic planning and development. It is early days yet, but we have a basic description of what we want to do, and a rough budget. Rome was not built in a day.

Not having much to report, let me reflect on a few key differences between Mongolia and Ethiopia. First, Addis and UB are both busy cities, so there are no big differences between them. Well, there is a crucial difference that I have become sensitive to: In UB there are spacious gas stations everywhere, whereas Addis has very few gas stations and they are very crowded. I need to put gas in my rental car, but I will do it at 7 am tomorrow just so that I don’t have to fight the crowds.

Another stark difference is in the food. Mongolian food is hearty, but not rich in flavor. In Ethiopia, in contrast, food is deliciously spiced, so the simplest dish is a rich symphony of flavors. Take for example the chebcheb I had for breakfast today: It looked like the cook had taken a piece of Arab bread, cut it into 1-inch squares, deep-fried it, and finally passed it through a delicious red sauce. It was heavenly. Plus they served it with a nice “salsa verde” that had quite a bit of kick. Or the mush of chickpeas and delicious sauce I had for lunch, served with a big fat roll of injera (a kind of very large, thin pancake made with tef flour; tef being a grain with little nutritional value but no gluten!). The injera is a bit rubbery, so what you do is spread it open over a corner of your plate, spoon in over it some of the mush, and then work your way in tearing pieces of the outside of the injera to scoop the mush and bring it to your mouth. Messy, but very delicious.

So, tomorrow I am escaping Addis to head north. Getachew and his wife Selama are concerned I am going for myself, but I have promised I will call once a day to report my progress. The plan is to drive on Tuesday from Addis to Bahir Dar, Wednesday I will visit Lalibela and Lake Tana, and will sleep in Gondar. Thursday I will visit Gondar, drive to and visit Aksum, and reach Mek’ele. Friday I would like to meet with the Dean of Science and/or the Dean of Engineering from Mek’ele University. Saturday and Sunday are a bit vague, but I plan to be back in Addis on Sunday night, prepared for heavy sessions of meetings from Monday to Wednesday. Thursday I need to return the car and somehow dispose of my brick of bills (Incidentally, I am spending money like a drunken sailor but still seem to be making barely a dent in my fortune). Finally, on Friday I will fly to Accra, in Ghana, for the third leg of my trip. Now if everything develops according to plan ….

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