A Tail
Mar. 23rd 2003
I was hoping that Sunday would be relaxed. I actually spent most of the day cleaning the furniture, and trying to buy things that I needed. Shopping is definitely more effort. Not only do you have to find the stuff, but you have to haggle.

Whilst walking I saw some gorgeous birds (steady). I have no idea what they were, but they were like chaffinches, about half of them had bright red faces, and the other half had bright blue. I must try to take a photo when I next take my camera out.

One of the things I have been quite keen to unpack is the mosquito net. This should be hung from the ceiling. My ceiling is probably at least 12ft high. I have no idea how to get up to the ceiling without the help of the owners, so I thought that I would try a make shift option. My first thought was to get four broom handles and to make the bed into a four poster. Finding broom handles was difficult and I quickly realised that they would not be large enough. As I was walking past the electrical shops I noticed plastic tubing outside. I asked what it was called and was told 'conduit'. It is so dissappointing when it has the same name. I confused the electrical shops by buying a total of four pieces (I did it in two goes). My intention was to make a structure like a dome tent. However, it did not go very well, the poles were not firm enough,, and the net just crushed them. I have now put three of the conduits at the foot end of the bed to make a hoop. I can put the mossie net over this, and the headboard at the other end. It means that I don't have much room, but as a temporary measure, I would rather do this than continue to be a free mossie meal ticket.

The mossies here seem to enjoy racing - or at least that is what is sounds like. In the shower room, it sounds like ten of them screaming around a formula-1 race track with their whining noises.

The shower, by the way, only has cold water. Yes, there is a hot tap, but no, there is no hot water.

Ferenj fever seemed to be in full effect in Mekelle today. All the young children wanted to meet me. One young boy, offered me a flower, and was content to walk by my side. Inside the market four old girls were by a market and they did the usual 'money' call, and I did my usual 'Yellen' (there is none). They then pointed to my pocket, and I got out my keys. The pointed to my bag - I showed them my glasses case. They had thought that it was a purse, and they asked in Amharic what it was. I showed them and they seemed a little bit deflated. I was a Ferenj without money. Fortunately they didn't ask about the other pocket that was quite loaded with birr for all of the shopping I need. What fascinated them most were the moles on my arms. Because I had shaken hands to say hello, they were close enough to touch my arms. Believe me, having four people interested in the moles on your arms seems far less weird or invasive after having walked around in public holding another man's hand. They thought they were mosquito bites. If I had thought fast enough, I should have told them that I was turning into habesha slowly, piece by piece.

While talking to the girls, I noticed an older boy hanging by my side. Although I would not expect trouble, I was as cautious as I would be in the UK, and made sure that I could feel my wallet with my leg. When I left the girls, he seemed to follow me. I went on to buy some things from some other stalls and then walked back into town. I could hear someone following me. They were wearing tracksuit bottoms, I could hear the swish, swish as the material in the legs rubbed. I decided to walk quickly and see whether they would keep up. This was almost certainly a sign that they were following. Habesha do not walk very quickly. This is a hot country - you walk slowly. As I headed into town I could still hear the swish - swish. No habesha would walk this quickly out of choice. I went along one road looking for one of the electrical shops to buy more conduit. The shop was shut, so I took the opportunity to cross the street and double back. The road has a fence running along the middle to separate the two lanes. There are gaps to allow pedestrians to cross. It would not be easy to cross the road without going through the gap. Once I reached the other side. I stopped, turned and stared at the person following. They seemed confused. I thought about waving but decided not. It is almost certain that there were bored and just wanted to follow a Ferenj to see where they went, what they bought, and to get a glimpse of the Ferenj fortunes. It is very unlikely they were planning anything malicious. If they were, I don't think that they would have been very successful. At the very least, they need to do a better job of following.

In the evening, I headed over to one of the volunteer's houses for a gathering, not a party, just a gathering. In the end, the other volunteers stayed at Kallamino or somewhere else. We spent an hour listening to the BBC world service (news about Iraq, and cricket) while watching some Ethiopian music videos on TV. I asked if at any point the videos start to look good, I was relieved to be answered, 'no' - they always look pretty bad.