I voted today! It was a weird experience, walking the dirt path to my little post office to participate in American democracy. I sat in a chair and filled in the little bubbles, then sealed it in three different envelopes and handed it over to a smiling Ethiopian postal worker. That’s it. One small gesture, and I felt American again. (Also, I noticed my uncle’s name under re-election for County Commissioner. Go Uncle Robert (Bob) Olean!)
The rest of my day was very much Ethiopian. I went to market. On the way, I passed the school. Passing the school is like setting off an alarm system. “You, you, you! Katie! Farenj!” The kids all yell. Anyone within a kilometer radius can tell when I’m coming, so I stop several times for greetings. And twice for coffee.
At the market, I found carrots, ginger, tomatoes and a few friendly faces I hadn’t seen in a while. “Tefash!” they say. You’ve been lost. “Allow,” I tell them. I’m here.
I walk back home, stopping for bananas along the way. “You!” a man says. “Give me one banana.” His broken English makes the request sound demanding. “You!” I reply back. “Buy one yourself.” And I laugh, because if you don’t laugh sometimes, it just feels irritating.
At home, our compound guard is laying the big tarp out for drying coffee. The green berries are just starting to turn red on the trees, which means it’s almost time for buna season. People will soon flock from all over the rural areas to make money picking coffee. The town fills with people heavy in the pockets with birr. Prices for everything go up and transportation gets crowded. Such is life in a cash-crop area.