Today I'm on the road to my site: Maychew, Tigre, Ethiopia. Unfortunately it's only for a couple days visit. We landed in Mekele at about 8.30 this morning. After a quick brunch, we found the bus station and started on our way. I'm joined by my friend Chris, who will only be 30 minutes south, Abigail who's site got cancelled and is joining along to get a feel for Tigre, and Chris and my community liaisons.
Community liaisons are intended to be, as I put it in one session, our social lubricant. They're tasked with holding or hand through introductions to our professional communities, setting up bank accounts, post office boxes, etc. More or less they are our ticket to integrating into the community, both as a professional and a general community member. If, during this initial trip and through our first three months at site, they continue to be helpful, they will become our counterpart, who would be tasked with helping us in community assessment, identifying potential projects, and implementing those projects. My liaison's name is Hagus. He is roughly 32, has a young wife and five year old son. He's an expert at the local agricultural office. He seems enthusiastic, but also sounds busy. That makes me worry he may not have time, after I move to site, to be very involved in my service. Time will tell, but it sounds like having a good, understanding, and involved counterpart can really make one's service.
Tigre is much more dry than the parts of the country I have seen to date. However, it is also mountainous. It us absolutely beautiful. Parts have looked like what would be considered national park back home. We have mostly followed a river, I use that term loosely at least at this time. Along the river, a green oasis exists. Tigre is an interesting place. They get significantly more annual rainfall than the Willamette Valley in Oregon, but are constantly struggling for water. That is due to the fact that nearly all of their rainfall comes in a two to three month period. I'm more than confident that I shall have more to say on this come the rainy season at site.
We almost just hit a camel. A real, one-hump camel. He walked out into the road, and stopped; looked at us, and waited for us to stop. Luckily we did, but it was a pretty aggressive stop. There were a few packs of camels just south of Mekele. Interesting.
My house is nice. I have two rooms of decent size. Included is a private hot shower and western toilet. The lone downside is there may be only very limited space for a garden.
Maychew itself is set in a beautiful valley, surrounded by high mountains. It's mostly green, but cacti are also prevalent. Strangely, agave is widely grown, but not put to use. I may have a good diy project on my hands! It seems like a nice town, much nicer than Addis or Butajira. Some of the roads are paved, and others are in the process of being paved. It's hard to believe this will be home for two years.