I arrived in Butajira yesterday around noon and met my host mom for the first time. We had lunch at the hotel in Butajira and we were driven by bus to our houses after lunch. All families were squeezed into several buses with their luggage either on top or inside the bus. My host mom and I were the third stop and I didn’t know quite to feel: anxious, nervous or happy. I have never lived with a host family before and without the language barrier, it would feel just like family. All family members can speak English but some are more advanced than others. Each individuals are known by their nicknames which I found quite intriguing because ALL eight of them don’t go by their given names. Babi is a 43 year government employee while his wife, Etalem is a 39-year-old social worker and combined they have four children with 2 nieces living with them. Hane is 16, Babey is 13, Hewu is 7, Nat is 8 months old, their niece Dan is 15 and Sheawaih is 20. This is their second time hosting a Peace Corps Trainee. I was welcomed into this family and by that, I mean I have been over-fed and have drunk way too much coffee/tea in the last day or so. Saturday, I was so full I could barely move but I still managed to take a nap and sleep in on Sunday morning.
Ethiopians are very accommodating and even though I am a like foreign exchange student (thus being gawked at and stared at), I can’t really blame anyone for being curious. I am as curious about them and their culture as they are as curious as mine. My host family keeps saying gobȁz which translates to good/clever simply for cleaning up after myself or wanting to help. I don’t know what kind of ferenjȉ they think I am, but this ferenjȉ (foreigner) always helps out. Ethiopians or at least my host family have a theory that we get sick through cold floors so, I know they must hate when I walk around barefoot. I don’t like wearing socks and I love walking barefoot, so I hope this is something they can begin to accept about me. Nonetheless, it’s good to have people watch my back as I am still learning Amharic, which I officially will be continuing in my studies on Monday. This means that I will either be in the Amhara region or Southern Nations. Amhara is in the northwestern part of Ethiopia with temperatures that vary in cold, semi-cold or pure hot. The vast majority of the people are Orthodox, coming in second to Muslims and lastly, Protestants. Southern Nations (SSNPR) is in the southwestern part of Ethiopia and while I’m not sure of the temperature or the religions, it is always beautiful and green so expect a lot of rainfall.
It’s also nice to have people there to help me hang up my bed net when I just stand there dumbfounded with what to do. My host family is nice enough not to ask too many questions but it is written on their expressions that they do not understand why a foreigner needs to take malaria pills and have a bed net to sleep in. No one in my host family has a bed net or needs to take malaria pills, so why should I? I need to think of the best way to explain it. Even with this weird concept to my host family, my host sister (is that even a word?) made French fries for me today with lots of ketchup. Well, what is known as “chips.” Needless to say it was delicious and I was so grateful to have a taste of “American” food!
I had firfir today for breakfast which is injera inside injera with bread on the side and of course, it was stacked and filled the whole plate. I just keep thinking “if I keep eating like this, I won’t lose any weight.” While I was eating it, all I kept thinking about was cereal with a banana and some blueberries and strawberries in it. My body has adjusted to the food, but my mind is still stuck on food in the States. Each meal is a delicacy but there are a lot of leftovers the next day.
Let’s see what the next few weeks will be like.