Monday, June 21, 2010

CV's and Acacia Trees

So it's been a little longer than usual since writing my last post, but I hope this one will make up for it. I have had an incredible week, filled with some incredible memories that I know I will never forget.

The week got off to a strong start on Monday, when Dave and I gave a presentation on CV's, finding post secondary funding and how to succeed in job interviews. I worked really hard putting together the presentation, and finding information about scholarships. It was a long process with a lot of googling, and seemingly no results in the beginning. But after refining searches, we got together an excellent list of resources. We had the presentation compiled for about a week and a half, before we presented it, as we were waiting on the return of a staff member contributing to the project. When he returned, the notice was approved by the dean on Saturday for the presentation to be Monday. Three posters were put up. I was quite discouraged, thinking that nobody would show up. So on Monday, when we arrived at the venue there was already a presentation going on. They had double booked the auditorium. Our presentation was moved to a lecture hall elsewhere on campus. At ten minutes past the scheduled start time, three people had shown up. Not too encouraging. But little by little people began to show up, and eventually we had 71 students.

The presentation went for about eighty minutes, and many students stayed after to ask us questions and ask for help. It was really nice to finally have some students approach us, as I think it was easier to do in a setting so public and open. We have a few students coming to us later this week to edit resum├ęs, conduct mock interviews and help find job listings online. So that should be a productive way to spend the week.

On Tuesday, Dave and I got to go all around the Southern part of Ethiopia. We travelled from Jimma to Addis Ababa. The next day from Addis Ababa to Sheshamene, and the next day Sheshamene to Hawassa, back through to a small town about 70 kilometers from Addis called Mojo. The next day we travelled back from Mojo to Addis to pick up other project members from NSAC (Dr. Gordon Price, Anne Lelacheur and Anna Fitzgerald). We looked around a bit for accommodations in Addis, but then retreated back to Mojo just because it was safe, and inexpensive compared to Addis. On the final day, we drove from Mojo to Addis, picked up the project members and drove back to Jimma.

Though driving took up most of the day, it was really my favourite part of the journey. I couldn't keep my eyes off the beautiful scenery everywhere.

The Great Rift Valley, is without doubt one of the most beautiful things to see in the whole world. Mountains appear from flat fields, Lakes are hidden by jagged cliffs, there are beautiful prickly pear cacti left right and centre. If you picture in your mind the African Savanah, with the beautiful flat topped trees... that's what we saw everywhere. There were way too many references to Lion King made, for example "Look at that Lion King tree!", "It looks like Rafiki will pop out any minute." etc, etc.

The most interesting thing for me though, was the ornithological life observed along the way. Even the tiniest birds, were so becoming. There were birds of every size and colour. There was a beautiful spot breasted plover I spotted near Sheshamene, yellow fronted parrots, black winged love birds, abyssinian long claw, giant white pelican, maribou stork. Those are just the ones I was able to identify later on, if I had a book... I would have been able to get so much more out of it. But, I think I am doing fairly well all things considered.

Some other highlights included delicious food including tegabino (shiro {from dried yellow peas}, chili peppers, and butter) which is eaten with injera, checla tibs (goat meat, chili peppers and onion) served on a small grill with burning coals, hot mustard and chili paste, as well as delicious egg sandwiches (egg on wheat bread with chili peppers and onion). I'm defiantly getting used to hot peppers, as I can eat them straight up. At least in little pieces, I haven't tried with an actual pepper eating bites yet.

Today I attended Anna and Anne Marie's (Fitzgerald & Lelacheur) lecture on standard operating procedure. It went really well with about 35 people in attendance. Anna and Anne Marie kept the audience interested with a humorous example of putting on a lab coat, and the associated precautions and risks. It was too funny.

I'm going to try to do a food post later on this week, of some of my favourite dishes. But, I have to say... I like them all.

Keeping happy, and healthy. Enjoy the longest day of the year, for everyone back in Canada. It's 7:00 here, and already quite dark.

If you're reading this GP, still looking for Kurtz.


Typical mountain in the Great Rift Valley

Salaam Mountain - Enroute from Addis - Jimma

Great White Pelican - Lake Hawassa Fish Market

Some rocks from a lake enroute from Shesheshamene to Mojo. Does anyone know what the peculiar black mineral is? I thought maybe manganite or osbadian... it looks igneous. I'm no geologist, but I brought a bunch back in my pocket so I can figure it out later on.

Maribou Stork, very beautiful but about 4 feet tall. I was scared they'd fly off with some of the smaller children. Taken at Lake Hawassa

A "lion king" tree. Actually a type of Acacia Acacia tortilis of the Fabaceae family. It is very common throughout the drive, we drove through HOURS and HOURS of savana with millions of these trees. Very beautiful

Great White Pelicans fighting over a piece of rotten fish. Taken in Hawassa

Some sort of weaving bird makes these beautiful nests. It wasn't uncommon to see thirty or forty in a single tree.

My favourite bird of the trip. It's unidentified at this point, but was catching flies on Lake Hawassa. I wish I could go on a bird tour there with a good guide, there was so much to learn. He was about the size of a chickadee.

Finally, this is my favourite photo of the trip. Two little boys running around, near Lake Hora. I know this isn't Lake Hora, but it was one next to it. I'll double check the name w/ Solomon later on.


  1. the unidentified bird made me think "kingfisher"{moz:distributionID}:{moz:locale}:{moz:official}&biw=1024&bih=558

    your small black rocks looks similar to obsidian, yes, (their smoothness, blackness etc.) but it seems like they break differently than the obsidian you see on google images. notice the common swirl pattern you see in larger obsidian rocks. (,r:9,s:0) they don't look lumpy the way your rocks do. Manganite also looks like they form regular patterns, like hexagons or something.

  2. The unidentified bird is a Malachite kingfisher.