Tsom no. It’s fasting time here in Ethiopia. The Orthodox celebrate Easter on May 5th, so the Catholics here do the same (with less than 1% of the country being Catholic, it doesn’t make sense to celebrate Christmas and Easter on the Western dates, so… we don’t.) The Orthodox, however, are more hardcore about their fasting, not taking Sundays off and beginning 55 days before Easter rather than 40 (so this year, it’s Monday, March 11th). I don’t actually know the reason for that, but I’m sure there is one.
It’s easier to get tired while fasting, but in general I don’t remember feeling overly hungry all the time last year. It’s a reasonable enough fast. You don’t eat animal products (so, vegan) and you don’t eat before the mass of the day ends (3 PM weekdays, 9 or 10 AM weekends). After 3 PM, you can eat as much as you like, so long as it’s vegan (sugar, alcohol and caffeine are all okay). This is easier than the Muslim Ramadan, where you have to fast until sundown. Obviously, as non-Orthodox foreigners, we don’t have to do anything, but it’s such an important part of the culture here that it’s good to experience it. Teresa the Spanish volunteer hates fasting time, because all her ‘I’m only here for one year!’ roommates always want to try it. This year, she lives upstairs and cooks for herself, but… her new roommate (an Italian volunteer) is vegetarian so she has to avoid cooking meat anyway ;). [We don’t buy meat often here, but giving up milk, butter, eggs, cheese, chicken broth, etc. is kinda a big deal.]
The Austrian volunteers calculated that their halfway point was March 4th, so on Tuesday we had a party to celebrate. It was sorta our Mardi Gras before the fasting time, so we cooked with lots of meat and cheese, and made a watermelon full of sangria. (This is the warmest time of the year here; we’ll make spiced wine in the summer when it is cold during the rainy season.) It was a nice meal, only marred by Teresa and Luca being unable to join us. (They had to take a sick kid to the hospital for a meningitis scare, but thankfully it was only typhoid fever.) So we sent plates up to them after they got home.
Next Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, so we’ll probably want to go out (remember, alcohol is a fasting food – as long as it’s not Baileys!) But Shanae and Teresa are both having visitors coming in this weekend, so it’s bound to be hectic. Shanae’s friend Kristina is coming for a whole month, and will help out in the project as well as travel a little (probably in the south). Teresa’s family is coming for I think 3 weeks, and will travel half that time (probably in the north). So, overall, it should be good for them to have guests, and I’ll get to use all of my horrible German. We’ll also watch The Sound of Music with them ;) [No one in Austria has seen it, whereas most Americans can sing along with all the songs, so it’s funny to show them what Americans think of Austria!] Marcy is travelling this weekend, visiting the American volunteers in Soddo, since she has midterm exams in the schools Monday and Tuesday. I’m sure Paula and Jenna will appreciate getting a visitor! They don’t make it up to Addis hardly ever. We need to schedule a time to get together (maybe somewhere between Soddo and Addis) to get them out of their compound for a bit.