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January 20, 2008

Gettin' out into It

Hmmmm, let’s see: I watched the sun rise while I brushed my teeth, had a lovely breakfast of fresh, pancake-y bread and honey and peanut butter, the local chief came ‘round in the morning quite friendly and looking quite jovial, and Tim and I headed off with Tedi driving and a happy local guard to Yirga Alita to service the GPS.

[The chief says hello.]

Things for the GPS looked grim. The guard said the people living there had left when there was a flood. [We only install instruments where there are settlements that we think are permanent, otherwise the instruments get vandalized.] There were plenty of stone structures but no signs of actual life in sight. Tim and I both figured the instrument was gone--but it wasn’t. Operating and fine. After just a little bit, me sitting on a rock in the little rock-walled and thorn-bush-lined enclosure around the GPS and Tim waiting with Tedi and the guard outside, a herd of goats appeared on the ridge above us and then came down towards us and soon there were little bitty goats up against the thorn bushes which the guard shooshed away. Delightful! Wish I could have gotten a good look at them. While I worked, Tim used my camera to shoot the herders, the guard, and himself and Tedi with the AK-47.

[Photo: Tim.]

[Check out the teeth: This is a typical cosmetic thing to do. Photo: Tim.]

[Photo: Tim.]

[Photo: Tim.]

[Photo: Tim.]

[Photo: Tim.]

[Photo: Tedi.]

[Photo: Tim.]

[Photo: Tim.]

[Photo: Tim.]

[Photo: Me.]

[Photo: Me.]

Then to DA25, which didn’t look as good. Tedi said he felt sick—GI problems—and we thought DA25 would be a quick stop but we ended up spending three hours there. The connector for the solar panel had failed—a wire had come loose—and blah blah fixed it temporarily at least and our guard had a nice nap and then we moved on.


[Tim gets a lesson on the fold and tuck.]

Beautiful spot, though, and I was reminded how sometimes there’s just not enough time to look around. My attention was on the instrument. Bummer! (Although without the instrument, I would never even be here…)

In the evening, ended up in a religious discussion with three of our Ethiopian colleagues—one Muslim, one Christian, and one atheist—sounds like the beginning of joke, doesn’t it?—and at times, it was indeed quite funny. Like when X made an argument for God by asking who created what (who created that battery? Humans. So who created humans?...) and later Y said atheists are sub-human and not created by God and then I was seriously confused about the nature of creation.

Abdu suggested a walk and he and Osman and I strolled through town and went into a ‘backyard’ to see goats. I love goats. “Let us witness some of their love,” Abdu said. Two tiny goatlets (I know they’re kids, but I wrote that in my journal and it kills me) were trying to nurse off the same adult, who promptly turned and gave one of them a good solid head butt. So much for witnessing their love. Then Abdu picked up the denied kid and I got to *pet* it! So soft! So cuddly! Okay, not cuddly… but so soft! Gray and white. Very cute.

Graham and Dani and some of the drivers erected a shower today. A stall of posts and blue tarps, and a battery-powered pump and shower head for the water. Such luxury.

The moon is almost full and is bright bright bright.

The food has been fantastic!

Oh—and windy in camp this afternoon— = DUSTY. Everything in my tent covered in a layer of fine dust. Great.

Gazelles today! And an ostrich and a big, long-necked, tan-white bird with a black Mohawk the Afari call andola [turns out it’s a kori bustard].

Posted by beth at January 20, 2008 12:37 AM

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