Monday, May 10, 2010
The road to Jimma
The drive from Addis Ababa was amazing. It took about six hours, the road was in immaculate condition. Along the way, there were some of the most beautiful trees that I have ever seen. They looked so ancient, and they were so big. We saw two types of monkeys, and a huge variety of birds. There were yellow birds, blue birds, red birds... high in the mountains there were many types of raptor birds. One had a wingspan that must have been at least six or seven meters. Some sort of eagle, I would expect. Looking for a guide so that we will be able to tentatively identify some wildlife.
Upon arriving to the university, I was amazingly shocked. The grounds were beautifully kept with beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees everywhere. Tropical birds in the trees, monkeys swinging around. It's the most beautiful oasis possible. The whole drive was lush and green, but not even close to the same scale as the campus here at JUCAVM. There were trees that included avocado, papaya and some really neat conifers that had basically rings of needled branches, so perfectly balanced that it appears to be a trunk with green disks spaced out along the length of the trunk.
The people here are amazing, we met the project coordinator and had some time to walk around campus and become a little more familiar. We met some nice young faculty, who invited us to a night of traditional food, dancing and traditional Ethiopian music. It was so much fun, such lively happy people. Everyone here is so kind, they have the most lovely way of making one feel welcome. And perfect smiles, everyone seems to have perfect smiles.
Along the drive which one was straight road, that became windy over time we realized two things. 1. That people walk everywhere! Scarcely along the 350 + km would we travel 100 m without seeing someone. People were everywhere. 2. There is an amazing amount of animal agriculture here in Ethiopia. Fact. In Ethiopia, cattle population: 44,000,000. Sheep population 23,000,000. Goat population 23,000,000, this was told to us by Dr. Tess Astatkie of NSAC. It's unbelievable! They were everywhere.
Another thing that struck me, is the diversity of everything. From the insects to the plants, to the trees. Biodiversity is everywhere in Jimma. Today I saw a locust, that was about six inches long. It was so cool. Also saw some beautiful butterflies, some katydids and some neat beetles. I look forward to documenting it a bit through my stay here.
We had our first experience with the rainy season as well. David and I noticed the sky was getting dark, and all of a sudden it began to pour. It was like a hurricaine. The drops of water were giant, and intense and it just really threw me for a loop. I know I will be wearing my boots quite a bit. The thunder and lightening were loud, and the rain was louder. It's going to make sleeping very nice, as it usually occurs during the night.
Today is our first day of the placement, it's still a little unclear as to what we are doing, but we are very excited.