Avoiding Aliens

Moving to Ethiopia has obviously been a good way of fooling the Aliens that usually live in my bank account. (This may not make sense to some people reading this – but some of you will know exactly what I mean!)

I went to the bank this morning, for the second time today – the first time was my first day in Robe when I opened an account. As I had been told there is often an initial problem with transferring money to the bank in Robe, I had brought with me, in addition to two months salary that VSO gave us before departure, some money of my own. I still have 500 birr of that left, but decided to withdraw money from my bank to take on my grand trip to the capital city – especially as I am planning a major trip to Bambi’s Supermarket to stock up on stuff I cannot get in Robe (my shopping list is quite long!).

I went to the bank early as I imagined there would be a long wait – I was so wrong. There were about 15 customers, so I joined the “queue” and waited patiently. The initial transaction takes place at a long counter. One of the benefits of being a farenji where there are only few of us, is that the bank clerk who opened my account greeted me by name. I have a savings book – like the ones you used to get in the UK before total computerisation. I asked to check my balance, which is done by computer, but the figures are written by hand in the little blue book. Not only had I had a transfer, but there was also some cash, which would be enough for my trip. I have more money than I thought! Unusually, for Ethiopia, I only had to give one signature, and then I was given a plastic disc with a number on and told to wait. I sat with the other customers, for no more than 5 minutes before I was called to the cash desk.

I had time to call in at a local tailors (some trousers I brought with me are now too big as I am back to my pre-departure from the UK weight), bought bread (using a full Afaan Oromo sentence) and came back for coffee and dried fruit (thanks Liz and Pete) before I have to go and teach a make-up session. This is nothing to do with cosmetics, but is to cover work that Candidates on the HDP have missed. I have three new Candidates, who have only just arrived at the College, so I need to get them up to the same stage as the others – I don’t really work on a Saturday, but decided that it was the only way I could get them all together for a few hours.

My language lessons (two one-hour lessons each week) are going quite well. I can count up to 99 – in theory I know more numbers, but keep forgetting the word for 100. I can say my name (which incidentally is spelt Kiim in Afaan Oromo) and that I am a teacher, that I come from England, and I can name some parts of the body – although I am not sure why I would want to! More usefully, I can ask for coffee without sugar – it comes with lots of sugar otherwise! It helps that Oromo (unlike Amharic) uses the same alphabet as English. One of my high points was when I was observing one of my Higher Diploma Candidates teaching a chemistry lesson and could read 2 words on the board.

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