Initially, it’s all a little overwhelming. Agaro is a deep green town filled with coffee, mango, papaya, bananas, guavas and other fruit trees. This green landscape requires water. Mosquitoes love this. I’ve spent an unreasonable amount of time this morning hunting my 8 by 8 foot room for the source of that skin-crawling, high-pitched hum. I did however, sleep very soundly last night. Mosquito nets are the shit. I can’t believe part of my job is promoting them. These things sell themselves.
I arrived yesterday in Agaro, which was chosen to be my site of 2-year service. The bus ride was 9 hours from Addis. Having heard enough horrific Ethiopian bus experiences, I was sufficiently terrified. We rose at 3 a.m. to start the journey and loaded the bus at Mercado station around 7. I was nestled tightly between an older woman and my counterpart. It wasn’t luxuriously comfortable, but my bags were safely loaded and I felt confident my experience had defied the norm. Half-way through our high-speed winding adventure, the woman next to me realized her undisclosed motion sickness. She inevitably vomited her injera breakfast on the floor in front of us. The bus got hotter, the people got sweatier. I was officially inducted into the Ethiopian bus experience.
Now that I’m here, I get 3 days to check out the town, open a bank account and set up my P.O. Box. Then it’s back to my training site (and yes, back on the bus) for six weeks. I’m training in Huruta with a host family, who takes care of me like I’m their own. Shito, Gemechu and their 3 daughters have already secured a permanent place in my heart. During training, language classes run 8 hours a day. Simultaneously, we immerse ourselves in culture and Ethiopian life. This means walking the dirt roads amongst donkeys, sheep and goats, washing our clothes by hand, and never forgetting to bring our toilet paper with us to the shint bet. T.his I.s A.frica.