My name is Manuela, I am 34 years old and I am a trainee from the Lindenhof hospital located in Bern. Around ten days ago I arrived in Addis Ababa and already experienced so many things that I can’t tell everything here.
When I arrived I was overwhelmed by the way people live in the city of Addis Ababa. You can see kids and elderly people sleeping on the streets or begging for some money. The streets around our guesthouse are not plastered so there is a lot of dust or mud when it is raining on the way from the house to the compound. The houses in our neighborhood are mostly constructed out of corrugated iron or plastic sheets. The people are friendly and open and they call us “ferenschii” all the time. That means foreigner. For me all these impressions in the city are so different from the living in Switzerland that I am in a sort of a cultural shock at the moment! But all that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel comfortable at all. The people on the street and especially the staff from Sport – The Bridge made me feel welcome in this town where the trucks drive next to a donkey both loaded with a lot of stuff.
As I said people on the streets treat us foreigners with a lot of respect even when you don’t understand a word of Amharic. As I was able to see, their dealings among themselves is characterized by a lot of respect while they greet each other. All that made it easy for me to accomodate.
In the first week I was able to join the staff retreat from Sport – The Bridge. It was an amazing experience to spend the day with all the friendly people and was a great opportunity for me to get to know each one of them better. First we drove through Addis Ababa but after a short time and a police control we headed to a place called Portuguese bridge. We drove through little villages covered with bushes. The houses were mostly built round out of mud. For me it was the first time out of Addis so I enjoyed the view of the countryside very much. The place itself is worth a visit as well. There is a waterfall heading to a valley which is amazing! I never saw a place like that before. Suddenly a horde of monkeys came down the hill really fast and scared quite a bit! 😉 After that interruption we had lunch and a coffee ceremony which was also disturbed by a few buzzards. They were attacking the people who were eating from the air and a few of us were looking for shelter in a hut. Then the actual retreat began. There were a lot of discussions going on….even political issues were talked through. After that they installed big speakers and the fun part began with some local beer and a lot of dancing. They taught us “ferenshiis” how to dance to abeshan music and wanted us to teach them Macarena!! It was good fun. When the sun went down we got into the buses again and drove back to Addis with a lot of singing and dancing in the bus. To be honest in my imagination I had several car accidents on that ride, because the traffic here has very different rules than in Switzerland.;) Luckily we arrived home safe and tired.
After the staff retreat I learned how to value “normal things” like electricity, flowing water and to have a washing machine. We were out of water for 5 days. Luckily my roommates were properly prepared for an incident like that. Thank you Moïra and Beni.
After all I realized that living simple like here in the guesthouse in Addis Ababa is possible and not that bad at all, because you get to appreciate the small things in life much more.