2014

Time to make a quick recap of this wonderful year!

January

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We adopted a cat. The story goes: A beautiful white cat walked into our garden on Christmas eve. We swore not to adopt it. 3 days later we had adopted it. Since the beginning, we decided to call the cat ‘Aizo’, which is Amharic for ‘Be strong’.

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We laughed a lot at this local gym advertisement. This gym seems to specialize in pectorals.

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For work, I traveled to the Ethiopian country side a lot. The country is divided into zones and woredas and kebeles; our programme works in Fogera and Mecha woredas. Little by little I started realizing the vastness of this country. For each kebele, there is a center, but behind that center, there are houses after houses, stretching out into what seems like an endless landscape. Almost 90 million people live in this country.

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We learned our way in the market and survived with our amharic. I believe the spice and vegetable vendors did not try to rip us off even once. Can’t say the same for the cloth and blanket vendors, though. Faranji! Special price for you!

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Our tradition was to bike to a sunset place, sit on a rock, drink a little red wine and eat local samosas and watch the herders walk home.

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My heart skipped a beat when I saw the Big Red African Sun for the first time. It was there and then it was gone so quickly we had to rush home so that we’d make it there before the dark.

February

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This was a time when I finally started falling in love with Ethiopian food. This particular dish remains a favourite to date, the baijainetu, an assortment of vegetarian dishes. In Ethiopia, you will always find vegetarian food on Wednesdays and Fridays. Even on non-fasting days you will find lentil and chick pea dishes.

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A hornbill appeared on my office window and scared the crap out of me. I googled and learned that the hornbill is a bird species with eyelashes. It is a sign of bad luck in some African countries, not in Ethiopia though.

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My dear friend Kirsi paid a visit to us all the way from Finland. Here we are harvesting beans from our garden.

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We went to see the Blue Nile Falls, the main attraction of the city of Bahir Dar. Located about 30 km from the city center, this month was apparently ‘the worst time to go’ since there is not enough water in the falls. We found it pretty anyhow.

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Pretty were also the Simien Mountains where we spent two nights, admiring the views, the stars and the gelada baboons. Spectacular place.

March

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We had a little accident in our garden. A huge branch fell of the mango tree, the heart and soul of the garden, it simply couldn’t carry the load of the delicious fruits.

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Here’s just a fraction of the mango we saved of that branch.

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In March I officially became an author! Our book ‘Nälkä ja yltäkylläisyys. Ruokaturva maailmassa’ (Translates as Hunger and Abundance. Food security in the world) was published by Gaudeamus. I was and am so proud! Follow our news on Facebook here.

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I also turned 28 and that called for a proper tortilla fiesta celebration. May I note that Atte prepared all of these from scratch (note to all guys out there: learning how to cook is your most important skill in this life).

April

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We did some longboarding in Bahir Dar for the first time.

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This was also a month of hard work as we conducted a field survey for our project. This was a great learning experience for me. Sometimes we couldn’t conduct the survey where we had planned since the roads were blocked in many cases, mostly due to rain. So not only did I learn lots about conducting a field survey, I also learned how to make fast decisions in unexpected situations.

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And finally we went on a mini vacation to Debre Zeit, a small town south of Addis Abeba. The hotel had a photo of a smiling Saddam Hussein and a British lady was complaining about bed bugs in the reception. “You should not be operating in this business!”

May

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Aizo had babies. I spent hours and hours googling cat stuff. I worried so much! And I loved those little kittens.

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Finally learned how to grow basil properly. Wrote some instructions for others here (in Finnish).

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Discovered a beautiful avocado forest! Oh how I miss big trees and forests here in Ethiopia. We just walked in the wonderful quiet and explained to a local guy (a local guy always appears from somewhere) how we enjoy the quiet and the green. He looked at us like he didn’t understand the point of standing in the quiet.

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Laughed with little kids in the countryside, or let’s say they laughed at me! I’m reading their notebook which had sentences about local animals. Then I pretended I was a toota (monkey). No one has ever laughed at any of my jokes as much as these kids. It was a great moment.

June

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Again, we adopted a cat. We found this little one abandoned in a barrel in our backyard, screaming for its mama who never showed up. The little one was welcomed by Aizo and her kittens but unfortunately he only lived for some weeks.

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Continued admiring the birds in our garden! Here is one of the black-winged love birds waiting for its turn to take a bath.

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I got use to power cuts. I became appreciative of the gas stove and candles and matches.

July

Spent summer holidays in Finland! Swimming, sun, sister’s wedding, family, friends!

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August

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It was a bit of a shock to return to Ethiopia after those warm holiday months. In Ethiopia the rainy season was still full on! But we did harvest some ginger from our own garden.

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We got some visitors from Finland again! Our friends Lasse and Nanna were here. We had a blast. It was an exciting time in their lives also. Lasse got a job offer from Dublin while they were here. Now they are both living and working on Ireland, you can read Nanna’s blog here.

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We camped at the Simien Mountains for 3 nights. It was lovely! Although I did not appreciate the blister in my foot during a day of almost 20 kilometres of hiking.

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“The wild dogs cry out in the night” ..several street dogs hung around our gate for some weeks. Then they disappeared as soon as the groups’ only female’s heat was gone. True friendship, that is.

September

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We noticed Aizo was pregnant (again) when we returned from Finland. She gave birth the same night our friends left. There were three kittens, only one survived the first week. Her name is ‘Charaka’ which is Amharic for the moon. She is still with us!

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We had all these things growing in our backyard. This is something I will most definitely miss after this Ethiopian experience of ours.

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We celebrated Ethiopian New Year at a friends’ house.

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We celebrated Meskel, an Ethiopian tradition, a celebration of the True Cross.

October

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I traveled to the United States to meet my sister. First we had some days in New York. We visited my old roommate in Chelsea. Here I am celebrating this with my 4-year old nephew. I’ll always love New York.

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Brooklyn Bridge at sunset, is there anything more beautiful?

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Reunited with our brother in town who happened to be there for his work!

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And finally spent a week in my sister’s homestate, Colorado! (In case you were wondering, we woke up like that, and we always drive around in a gorgeous old Pontiac 😉 )

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Upon return to Ethiopia, played a football game at Bahir Dar stadium! Running in an altitude of 1,8 km and in the burning Ethiopian sun is an experience! We lost the game.

November

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Got to know the local butcher, buying meat for cats is a weekly thing.

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Other domestic chores included ordering sand for the cats’ litter boxes. It was delivered by a donkey.

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I realized we had an occasional monkey visitor in our garden. It is a sneaky creature, arriving only when the passion fruits are ripe and delicious.

December

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Celebrated Finland’s Independence at a reception in Addis Abeba, hosted by the Finnish Embassy. Ate most of the chocolates there, I’m afraid.

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Celebrated Atte’s birthday. The local boys brought a cake. No dairy products in the cake since it is fasting time. Being a vegan in Ethiopia would actually be quite easy. We danced so much during this evening.

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We got guests from Finland and because it was Christmas, we cooked Finnish foods. Menu: casseroles, smoked fish and chocolates.

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Spotted big-ass hippos at Lake Tana. The photo is taken with a big ass zooooom. You do not want to be this close to a hippopotamus, ever.

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And then….tan tan taa…I was proposed to and we got engaged!!

There couldn’t be a more proper or happier way to end this year.
Looking forward to 2015.
I’ll set a personal theme for the coming year:
DREAM BIG!

7 thoughts on “2014

  1. Pingback: 2015 | Selam Selam

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