Being Open to the Universe

I saw two shooting stars and a double rainbow this past weekend.

Alyssa, John, Scott, and Seth came to Metu for a garden party on Saturday, to help Sile and me prep our garden beds. We’d just finished Sile’s plot. As we looked up at the rainbows, the boys who fetch water in Sile’s compound told us to “Stop pointing!” Ethiopians think rainbows are bad luck.

But rainbows seem fortuitous to me—I’m a person who says, “Bunny, bunny, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit” on the first of every month. Before speaking to anyone or putting my feet on the floor. (Knock on wood it’s fortuitous!)

This morning I was walking to the Ethiopian Telecommunications Office (ETC) to get my cellphone unlocked—my neighbor Tirhas, a self-proclaimed “Snake Master,” had typed in my code wrong too many times when playing games—when a neighbor I hadn’t met before joined me for a chat. It’s a very common occurrence.

It turns out, Calla works for ETC. When we arrived, he helped me sort things out immediately.

As I continued walking to work, an older man, Obbo Solomon, stopped me outside of Metu’s Translation Service. I walked into the shop about a month ago, once I realized what the two words on the sign said, “Change Translation.” I’ve been looking for a more formal tutor. Everything, everything in the Peace Corps is self-motivated. That includes learning Afaan Oromo.

Just today, I’ve started a language learning diary and a work diary, but it would be very nice to have a teacher who can help me keep on task. Perhaps Obbo Solomon, the translator, is that teacher.

If I only learn Afaan Oromo fluently, I will feel I’ve succeeded in the Peace Corps. I walk around a lot wondering if my eyes are open but not really seeing.

Susan has an analogy I really like: she says, we are in a boat, surrounded by high waves. In two years, we will understand what is happening immediately around us, but we will have no idea about the land beyond the waves or the fish swimming beneath us.

I think a reasonable level of Afaan Oromo is a step in the right direction, though.

This entry could’ve been about a thousand things. One thing I’ve been meaning to mention is how strange it has been to find that parts of Ethiopia have great cell phone* and Internet coverage. I am way more linked in than I ever imagined I’d be in the Peace Corps. My morning visit to the ETC is a excellent opportunity to bring it up.

But, back to topic, today’s coincidences—meeting Calla and Obbo Solomon— have reminded me yet again to Be Open to the Universe, if only in a small way. Really I mean, be polite and curious and who knows? Look for everyday rainbows.

*Case in point about cellphone coverage: Now months ago, Dorsey and I were hiking up Menagesha Mountain. We saw a woman riding an ox cart and talking on her cellphone.

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One Response to Being Open to the Universe

  1. Rio says:

    Warning: in Ethiopia you may be pulled over to the side of the road if you are caught using a cellphone while in an ox cart. 😉

    Hope all is well!

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