Saturday, 11 July 2009
It was very easy to get back into UK living - in the house at least. Everything is the same and I can drive a car easily even after not driving one for 10 months. I have had a couple of twitches on things like putting toilet paper down the toilet instead of a bin by the side. Also having an urge to keep a torch with me at night incase the power goes off.
At first I was a little overwhelmed with broadband internet and spent ages on it look at news, reviews, finding what films I had missed, TV sites, ordering books and DVDs on Amazon etc.
I have also bought a new TV (my old one was over 15 years old and a new TV was something I promised myself when I got back.)
It was weird it being light outside at 21:00. In Ethiopia it only varies between 18:00 and 19:00 all year round. My sleeping was a bit disrupted with this and all the technology I had to play with. It was like I didn't want to go to sleep as there was so much to do, watch, search for.
Outside the house I feel a bit slow, for example in the big supermarkets, like everyone is moving around fast and I'm just looking at all the stuff and everyone going by in slow-motion.
I also have a sort of numb feeling, especially at first, and felt like the last two years hadn't happened. (Apparently this is normal.)
During the week I went to my niece's sports day, my nephew's drama performance and my old school summer fayre. It was good seeing everyone again and I still have the programmed Ethiopian "shake hands" build in. It's like an instant reaction now to shake people's hands as soon as I see them.
That's it for now - back to all the technology!
Saturday, 4 July 2009
Friday, 3 July 2009
Basically I spent the last few days in Ethiopia finishing off a last few jobs, and killing time.
One problem was no electricity for the entire three days (except a few hours over night which was no good to anyone, and a period of a couple of hours when the voltage was around 120V (it should be 220V)) Luckily the Yonnas hotel I am staying in has a generator which they put on from around 6pm until midnight.
The first job I had was to collect my passport from VSO and then change my remaining Ethiopian Birr currency into something useful in the outside world. The government is very tight on loosing dollars - which is a stable currency with world backing. The Birr, on the other hand, is only worth the paper it’s printed on outside
The first two stops had no UK Pounds, Euros or even US Dollars and the last place said they could only change up to $150 without a resident’s permit and receipts from previous dollar to Birr transactions. My resident’s permit had to be given in to get my exit visa so no luck there. I began to think I would be stuck with a pile of paper, or alternatively I would have to splash out on lots of extravagant meals, souvenirs and a night in the Sheraton hotel.
One taxi driver offered me black-market dollars, but due to a misunderstanding of the accent, I thought he was offering 1 dollar for 40 birr (the bank rate is 1 to 11.3.) I realised afterwards he must’ve meant 14. Anyway, the risk of fake money was too great, and in-case anyone official is reading this, it is illegal so I didn’t do it!
I finally managed to sort this a few days later, in a legal way, I believe. I gave my birr to another volunteer who will be here for another year, and they electronically transferred money from their bank to mine in the
Thursday’s job was to get police clearance by obtaining a “certificate of good conduct” that I will probably need in the
On Friday I went to the VSO office to get my final clearance there and have an exit interview with my programme manager. I had a nice pizza on the roof of a 6-storey skyscraper looking out over the city for the last time, followed by a cake from a coffee shop. Then back to my room to see if I could do something about the excess baggage. (also finding out the water pump in the hotel is broken, so no shower!)
I think I managed to get the bags to within a kg or so of what they are supposed to be, so hopefully I’ll be let off with no excess charge. That’s as long as they don’t check my carry-on back-pack which is almost double the weight it should be!
Then it was watching TV and DVDs while I wait for time to go by before being taken to the airport.
This is the last entry written in
Thursday, 2 July 2009
I have lots to tell you all, but the information is all on my laptop
which I cannot connect to the net at the moment as there has been no
mains power in Addis for two days.
Highlights include: college car breaking down, getting the squits just
before flying to Addis, being fingerprinted for my police clearance,
So stay tuned.
If not before, I will upload all the entries when I get back to the UK.