Monday, November 19, 2012

Back to Bora, Ethiopia Trip -- Day 4

There is nothing quite like going to sleep late and waking early -- particularly at 9,000 plus feet -- to make you feel rotten.

Although the barn was more comfortable than the hut I'd slept in last year, my body's internal clock was a mess.  At around 4AM, it told me I needed to get up, and despite my best efforts to get a couple more hours of sleep, I was still the first one out of bed.
Bora in Early Morning Cloud Cover
An advantage of being up first is a little privacy.

One of the creature comforts we sacrifice in traveling to Bora is a toilet.  Our bathroom consists of a small grove of false banana trees (enset) behind the cooking hut, and whatever paper or wipes we carry in.

I noticed many of the people in our group were afflicted with what I called "mountipoopiphobia" the fear of going to the bathroom on the mountain.  Really, it isn't that bad, but for some folks the subject became a bit of an obsession.  Having been backpacking plenty in the past, I was not afflicted with this fear, and was able to take care of things without any issue.

After I returned to the compound, one of the children was encouraging one of the local dogs to come inside and "clean up" a spaghetti spill that was on the ground.  The dog was quite hesitant to enter the compound, but eventually, with plenty of encouragement, came inside and gobbled up most of what was still on the dirt.  I had another experience with the same dog the next day, and it was amazing how differently the animal behaved when there was meat involved.

Others started to rise a short while later, and after a light breakfast, which no one seemed enthusiastic about, it was time to head up to the clinc site.  As we prepared to go, the Chief saddled his horse and left with his brother for an appointment.  I later learned it was a funeral, which would prevent him from being present during the clinic's grand opening ceremony.

The trail to the clinic from the Chief's hut
The route up to the clinc from the Chief's hut was fairly short, but all uphill, and in some places quite steep.  I was experiencing nausea and a mild headache, and decided I would see if it was possible to go slow enough up the trail to keep from breaking out in a flop-sweat.  As it turned out, it isn't.

When we reached the clinic, I could see that the structure was in place, but there was still a lot of work to do.  The clinic lacked doors and windows, needed plaster and paint.  And there was no furniture.  With tables and chairs carted up from the nearby church, conditions were about the same as they were the last time I was here for clinics.  As the construction wraps up in the next few weeks, the site should become downright civilized.
Installing the sign for the grand opening
I ended up helping to install a sign over the door, played with children, and spent a few minutes shadowing Amber as she saw patients.  Then fatigue and more nausea hit me like a ton of bricks.

I ended up walking back down the mountain to the barn to get a couple more hours of sleep.  And then back to the clinic for the grand opening ceremony -- which took much longer to organize than to conduct.  The official opening was the culmination of nearly two years of planning, fundraising, and work by Dan, Amber and many others.  I felt lucky to be there to see it.

Then we traveled back to the Chief's hut for dinner.  Somewhere along the way, I'd missed lunch,  but with the nausea, I really didn't "miss" it at all.  By dinner time, however, I was feeling much better and was finally hungry.
Singing and dancing around the fire
Traditionally, we slaughtered a goat or sheep to celebrate the trip and honor our hosts.  But killing and preparing a sheep takes hours, and we'd gotten a late start.  Fortunately, our fearless leaders decided to serve a two step dinner -- Mac and Cheese as the first course, and the meat later (around 11PM, as it turned out).  The smell was incredible once the cooking started, and the wait time was filled by dancing and singing around the fire.  It was inspiring and fun.
Sheep cooked by headlamp
I turned in soon after eating a small portion of the sheep, sorry that tomorrow morning we would be departing Bora.

All photos were taken by Curt Good and unabashedly swiped from his Facebook posts.

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