Floods upon the Dry Ground
The weather hasn’t been able to make its mind up this year. The rainy season should have started, but we’re not entirely sure it has. However last Sunday the rain and hailstorm we were caught up in suggested otherwise.
After several abortive attempts to have us over for lunch Haile (my taxi driver) managed to make and keep a date for Sunday lunch last week, as we are imminently leaving for a 6 week break in the UK. After our Sunday morning Bible study group was subjected to a talk involving alien autopsies and 3000 year old Pliedans (don’t ask) Chris and I headed off in warm sunshine to Haile’s home – quite a distance across the city. We received the usual lovely welcome, and using a jug, a bar of soap and a bowl it was a great honour to have Haile himself help us wash our hands (this would normally be a done by the lady of the house). Haile’s wife, Bezou, had made a tasty and varied lunch for us including some delicately spiced strips of fillet steak. Shortly after starting we were joined by a couple of other family members who also enjoyed the food. The small gifts we had taken with us for the children (Kaleb (7) and Aresema (18 months)) included a yoyo, which kept Kaleb and Haile amused for a while. Once we had finished eating and looking at quite a large number of photos of the children we were about to take our leave when it started to rain. In keeping with most modest Addis homes the 3m x 4m sitting room we were in had a corrugated tin roof. The rain was noisy; but then it started to hail. Here’s 43 seconds of Chris showing Kaleb how to yoyo, but talking to him was impossible:
The storm was quite unusual, and when it eventually stuttered to a halt we were able to head off home through intermittent rain. The storm had caused chaos: stalled taxis; rivers running down the roads; floods outside the bus station. We were again thankful for our 4x4 Ford Ranger.
Monday morning revealed further results of Sunday afternoon’s hail. Close to HQ a petrol station’s entrance was completely covered in compacted hail resulting in a sheet of ice that resembled thawing snow - an incongruous sight, 9 degrees north of the equator in mid-summer. Just down the road a tree had come down, but was rapidly disappearing as people took the opportunity to obtain some free firewood. By the afternoon journey home the ice had all melted and the weather was back to its usual calm, warm self.
Home James, and Don’t Spare the Horses…
We arrive in the UK on Wednesday morning, returning here on 31st July. Just to show you what a devastating effect living in Addis has had on Chris, the first thing she wants to do after we arrive at Heathrow at 7am is to get to the Breakfast Club in St Albans so she can eat bacon. We love working here, we love the people, and it is a privilege to serve our patients and students, but Chris just jotted down this list of things she is looking forward to (although the hair-drying one is progressively less relevant to me):
- No begging;
- No broken cars;
- No broken buildings;
- Fast Internet that doesn’t just randomly stop;
- Butter that doesn’t smell like blue cheese;
- Knowing a shop will have wide choice and consistent stock;
- Paying by card, not smelly bank notes;
- Driving in traffic lanes;
- Knowing you’ll have electricity to dry your hair immediately after you’ve washed it;
- Clean water from a tap you can actually drink and brush your teeth with;
- Walking freely in the countryside.
I personally shall enjoy 6 weeks of driving around and not having anyone yell “You! You!”, “Ferenji!” (“foreigner”), or, worst of all, “China!” through the window at me.