MithLuin (mithluin) wrote,

TIA: It's the altitude!

So, it turns out the movie Blood Diamond is much funnier when you watch it in Africa. I hasten to clarify that a movie about civil war, child soldiers and diamond smugglers is not actually funny; it’s meant to be serious and depressing, and of course it is. Leonardo diCaprio’s character is rather a bastard and if anyone else played him, you’d hate him unequivocally. (As it is, you’re mostly mildly disgusted by him.) But, I’d never seen it before, and I’d always wanted to see it, so I thought it would be good to watch it since we had it here. And…parts of it were definitely funny to see, because…there are some things that are just how white foreigners in Africa operate that were pretty accurate. One was the idea that the foreigners all get out of town when things turn south, but of course the locals don’t have that choice. Also, the idea that there’s only a handful of reasons to be there – so everyone’s a journalist or a Peace Corps type or working for the UN. Another was the phrase ‘TIA’ which stood for… “This is Africa.” And, yes, that excuse explains pretty much everything. The cell phone network has been down for over a month in Mekanissa, but works fine everywhere else in Addis (and other places)? TIA. Another thing was the comment about the red soil…because the soil in Soddo is soooo red. It was funny to listen to Marcy explain to Jenna and Paula that that was because of the iron in the soil, and you have iron in your blood (after we watched the movie together). So, I’m really glad I waited until now to watch that. I really liked Leonardo diCaprio in Catch Me if You Can, so I’ll pretty much watch any movie with him in it, but I waited until this fall to watch Inception and Blood Diamond.

(Of course, I have a brother who pretty much is the character from Catch Me If You Can and/or White Collar, so…that might be why I like that. My brother isn’t a criminal {as far as I know}, though he’d make a great con man. He can make anyone believe his stories, even when he tells you up front that he’s pulling your leg. He {mostly} uses his powers for good. But anyways. Speaking of conning people into things…)

Ah, right, so while the Austrians were in Ziway, Marcy and I were left to our own devices for a couple of days. I thought we should do something super-American while they were gone, but it was hard to think of too many things. So…I managed to talk her into playing Scrabble one evening. Now, I am not the world’s most decisive person. In fact, I’m extremely indecisive. So, the lack of a time limit on turns meant the game lasted 2 hours. Marcy will never play Scrabble with me again. But, at least I got one game out of it! And yes, I won (not by much), but that’s not what I was happiest about. I got to use the word ‘veldt’…in Africa!! So nice. I even let her look it up in the dictionary for free because I was so proud of myself for doing that. But like I said…I burned that bridge. In general, the volunteers dislike playing card games with me, because I tend to win a lot. But they’ll still play Rummy with me, at least (and last night, I lost to Shanae, so I’m not always so lucky). It’s strange…I’ve never been that great at winning games, I don’t think. My family has refused to play geography games with me for years, since I was an expert on that in middle school. But I always lose Settlers of Catan, Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit.

The other excuse that I use for everything (instead of just saying ‘This is Africa’) is…the altitude. I mean, we’re at 10°N latitude here, in the middle of the tropics… and it’s 70s year round. So…the altitude is quite high, pretty much the same as Colorado. And some things can be blamed on the altitude. For instance, high altitude cooking means that water boils at a slightly different temperature. And there’s no malaria in Addis for the same reason. But I blame a lot of other random things on the altitude, too. Like, if someone complains of feeling tired out…oh, it’s the altitude. Which might have been true in the first few weeks, but, by now, I feel we’ve probably adapted, and maybe something else is responsible. Alcohol tolerance is also down, but I’m not sure if that’s fair to blame on the altitude or if it has more to do with decreased consumption.

I only have a little over six more months left here, so it’s been weird beginning to think about the end and what will happen when I go back. I’ve spent 10 of the past 12 months in Ethiopia, and since I came back at the end of August, I’ve felt very comfortable here. I’ve definitely settled in for the long haul. Which is why…it is so strange to think, ‘huh, in another couple of months, I should start searching for a new job.’ We won’t hit the halfway point in the school year until the end of January, but it’s still transitioning. I tend to be much happier in life when I don’t have to contemplate endings or beginnings, but at the same time, I’m very comfortable with the idea of going home after this. I don’t want to live in Ethiopia forever, and I think the students here benefit from having a different American come to teach them Spoken English each year. I really enjoy teaching the 11th grade this year, but that doesn’t mean it would be good for me to stick around and teach them as 12th graders. The current 12th grade has their moments, but they’re mostly impossible to work with except for one-on-one.

Anyway, hope all is well in the rest of the world!
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