One of the kids just showed up at the office unexpectedly. Joe and I are the only ones here so communication is a challenge. Joe is doing quite well with his limited Amharic. Kids are the same here as they are everywhere. She and Joe are jumping rope and counting to see how many jumps they can get. Joe was able to sit down with her and have a quick writing lesson with her on the new whiteboard that we bought yesterday at the Merkato. She is a sweet little girl. She actually isn’t in the program, but has been coming with Edalawit. She claims to be 7 years old and she lives on the street with her mother under a plastic bag. She had to travel across the city to get here. Could you imagine a 7 year old little girl travelling alone through a city the size of Charlotte or Memphis?
Yesterday I had my first real experience with the Merkato. The Merkato is the largest open air marketplace in Africa. It can be a scary place for a foringe. Most of those who know me know that I despise shopping. So you can imagine what a nightmare this trip was for me. There must have been several thousand little shops and stands. The streets were crowded with people and cars. They tell me that it wasn’t as crowded as usual due to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrating Epiphany this weekend. We were there to buy suits for Ephrem, Nega, and Joe for Ephrem’s wedding this weekend. We spent all day searching through shops and haggling over prices. We visited some of the same shops 4 and 5 times. We finally found most of what they needed and I even splurged on a cheap pair of knock-off “Skechers”.
There were huge celebrations throughout the city all weekend. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was celebrating Epiphany. They crowded the streets as they marched behind replicas of the Ark of the Covenant. It was quite interesting to see all the people dressed in white robes marching and singing.