As an ex-pat, I have a pretty simple life here. Most weekday mornings I wake up around 7, make a simple breakfast and some tea, do a little computer work or reading and then leave about 8:15 to walk the 20 minutes to the museum. I have a research room at the museum that I am share with an American paleontologist who specializes on fossil horses. I spend my days going through the rocks we’ve found in the field, identifying and describing the different types of leaves, and photographing as many specimens as time allows. I promise a future blog on the actual research that I’m doing here, lest you all think I come here just to escape American life.
The museum is freezing, so generally for lunchtime I sit in the courtyard and make a sandwich. My favorite creation is avocado, mango, cheese, and mustard on a fresh-baked Big, crunchy white rolls. Other days I’ll alternate with peanut butter/honey/banana, tuna, or sardines. Or, on the rare occasion that usually coincides with visits of other visiting scientists, I’ll go to one of the restaurants near the museum. After lunch, I work until about 3:30 and then take a tea break at the museum cafeteria (the Ardi – the name Lucy was already taken by the tourist trap restaurant next door). Then, we get kicked out at 5:30, at which point I either meet friends or go home and cook dinner, using ingredients from my pantry (see picture).
The canned goods are purchased from small shops, the produce from street vendors, and the bread from the local bakery. I’m sure none of the produce is organic, but it’s fresh and local and tastes so much better than American fruits and veggies. In the US, when I make ful, I have to use tomato paste in addition to tomatoes, because American grocery-store tomatoes barely have any flavor. Here, the tomatoes are bright red, juicy, and full of flavor (and note that I don’t even like tomatoes), so quite perfect for any tomato-based dish. I know I’m not the first person to recognize the following, but it never fails to amaze me that America has been the most powerful nation in the world for the last 50+ years, and yet much of the food we eat is crap flavor compared with what you get in the “developing” countries. True, we do have farmer’s markets and Whole Foods, but it’s tricky for me to afford that regularly on Miami University assistant professor’s salary.
Weekends are relaxation time. Saturday morning I do some laundry and food shopping, and then make my way to the Hilton by 2PM for Hash, which is what makes my time in Addis so enjoyable: a couple hours of clean air, exercise, and delightful company, followed by beer, dinner, and dancing. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet many amazing people (see previous ode to hashing). Sunday is back to the museum, maximizing the most of my short month here, but I let myself have a slightly slower pace of work on Sunday.
My mom asked for more pictures, so here are a few scenes from my daily life. I live in a clean, quiet guest house with my own bedroom and bathroom, and I share a kitchen with the other inhabitants. Today I bought a jump rope (running in Addis outside of Hash has not suited me), so starting tomorrow I will be the crazy ferengi jumping rope in the courtyard!