What Shape is Hail?
Apr. 19th 2003
Every week seems to get busier and busier. I think that I have been the angriest in my whole life.

Most of my week has been trying to set up the computers. I have been having the usual problems of things not working correctly, but then I should have come to expect that with M$ products. This has not been the biggest frustration though.

The ordering equipment saga has continued. And we barely have any more than at the end of last week. I have now started to give them hassle. I fear that this may be where my anger is going. It is certainly one of the causes. But I did know that this was likely to be a problem before going.

What has most annoyed me this week was the meetings that I have had with other members of staff. While they are certainly not unimportant they have taken away time for setting up computers. And then, everyone has to ask - when are we getting the Internet. It doesn't matter how many times you tell them that there must be a phone line first. Logic is not a strong point of the habesha! My whole Thursday was a waste. I had to leave early to meet with people from VSO who were visiting. Of course, this means that I get into the early car with the people who haven't bought what should have been bought. I assume that they then think that I can't be that busy if I am going home. That is really frustrating.

On the positive side, my stomach is better once again, and my trousers soon will need a belt to keep them up. It's nice to have loose fitting clothes again.

Something else that is good for this week is the amount of rain we have had. There has been lots. Tuesday in particular was a heavy day. It had been promising rain for most of the afternoon. As usual, this was shown by large grey crowds occupying nearly all of the sky and the distant rumble of thunder. The clouds do seem to really try to hold onto the rain though, only dropping it reluctantly. However, once the clouds started, they found that they enjoyed it so much that they put all of their effort into attacking my roof. It started with just a little bit of rain hitting the corrugated tin. Out of my window the ground was perfectly dry. The difference between dry and wet was accurately cut. Soon, however, the view out of the window was nearly completely water. The owners of the house have a large barrel under each of the gutter pipes to catch water for cleaning and feeding animals. With the rain, plastic bowls were put out to collect every drop. Shortly, they decided that there was so much rain that they should discard what was already in the barrels, and take the cleaner water that was now gushing noisly out of the pipes. Immediately outside of my window was one of these barrels. I watched as one of their daughters used all of her strength to push the barrel over, adding its water to the already flooded floor. The rain was coming so fast that I was curious to see how long it took to fill the barrel so I started a stopwatch just after she had righted the barrel and placed it under the pipe again. It was full in under five minutes.

I had been told previously that Ethiopians do not like getting wet. This certainly did not seem to be the case for the landlady's daughters. They seemed to be postively enjoying the rain. The dogs were also playing a game, clearly happy to be getting wet.

As well as rain, there was patchy fallings of hail. I had my door shut to stop the rain splashing onto my floors which become very slippery when wet. However, some of the hail was able to bounce under the door and into the room. I decided to look at it and check what it looked like - many things here have looked slightly differently. It was not a ball as I would expect in the UK. Instead, it was cone shaped. Towards the base of the cone it was white, and towards the tip it was perfectly clear. I tried to take a close-up photo before it melted but it was too late - it melts pretty quick here. I was not lucky enough to have any more bounce underneath the door. I will try to find some more to see whether this was just a freak occurrence.

As I write this, it is Saturday night, and raining quite heavily once more. Currently, we are in the 'small rains'. A period of about two months where it rains a little. I don't know if the rain we have had is enough for Ethiopia. What I do know is that it is good for electricity because a lot of power for Ethiopia is hydro-electric.

On the Thursday, Wendewossen, the person in charge of Tigray placements, visited the volunteers in Mekelle. He brought with him a letter from Sarah that must have been sitting at VSO for ages. This is the first bit of mail that has actually arrived here, and it was very welcome. Something else that was welcome was the pizza that we all ate in the restaurant. It was expensive (for Ethiopia), but VSO paid for it and it was delicious.

Other things of note for this week - I have booked a flight to the UK in June. I did it over the phone but I was unable to pay over the phone. Instead I must go into their office the day before the flight. Something that I am a little bit sceptical of. However, that was the only way I could do it; I must remember to arrange for my credit cards and passport to be taken out of the safe at VSO. It was booked for 1st June to 11th of June. This may cause problems becuase it is in the middle of term. However, I have agreed it with my boss previously but he wasn't here this week to tell. After working so hard, I will need a break, I just need to arrange it as a reading week or two for the students.

My Saturday has been spent at MIT, and if the car arrives tomorrow, that will be the way of my Sunday. And I have written the course for this term. Hmmm. I think I will be busy for some time to come.