September 22, 2014
Monday, September 22, 2014
We have been in Gondar 5 days now. Honestly, the first day here, I cried. I wondered what we were doing thinking we could live in a developing country for a school year. We are fortunate to be experiencing this as a family, as the necessary hugs to persevere are readily available. It has been interesting to me that the family seems to decompensate in a serial fashion. The other three support the decompensated one until they can function again, and then life is okay for a time, until someone else crumbles. So far all four of us have gone through some difficult emotional times. Food and sleep definitely help. Everyone has slept through the night for two nights now, and the emotional break downs are more sporadic.
I have had a difficult time getting used to so many people asking for money, touching me, shaking my hand and yelling “hello!!!” from across the street. Josh seems to have handled this the best, returning the “hellos” and handshakes. But today even he said that it is exhausting. “I’m just another human being, can’t they see that?” He also reflected that in the U.S., “it’s just not right to surround people, and if you do get surrounded, it’s dangerous.” We recognize that it is not dangerous here. But we are a spectacle, especially the kids. I think people are used to seeing white adult tourists, NGO workers, and some hospital or university faculty, but white children with red and blond hair? Last night our quiet courtyard (and attached reception hall) was rented out for a wedding. Josh and Sonja had been playing soccer (futball) in the courtyard when the wedding party just showed up. Soon, about 15-20 young men who had come to the wedding were playing futball with Josh. Sonja wisely escaped and found the musician playing the local ukulele instrument, but Josh hung in there. The game became quite lively and physical with lots of fancy footwork and exuberant vocalizations. Many of the young men took selfies with Josh, and by the end he had shaken many hands. Perhaps it is a cross cultural phenomenon that young men would rather play a futball game than attend a wedding reception.