Sunday, October 18, 2009
I don't understand all the words, but the music grabs at my heart, and I can't help listening to this over and over again.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
To me, it was very noticeable immediately. When you look around you in Africa, you see incredible beauty, a richness and abundance of nature and natural resources and vibrant, intelligent, creative people. Africa is not, as many people in the West imagine, a desert, as described by the pleas for aid, with starving, ill millions lying around apathetically at death's door.
However, one of the most difficult things to see is the begging culture. It is an attitude that often infuriates Africans themselves. How do we raise our children to become hard-working, responsible, creative citizens of the world if this is the image of themselves they see presented to the world, they ask.
Read Dambisa Moyo's "Dead Aid" and ask yourself if what she says about the failure of our aid policies to Africa is correct. Let us challenge ourselves to look at Africa in a new way. Let us open our minds and look at the ways we have been in the world that have contributed to the poverty in Africa. Have we been satisfied to soothe our conscience by donating to relief projects, when the underlying inequalities are never addressed?
As a woman, I can't help but identify sometimes with the plight of Africa. I understand the attitude implied in the discrepancies in power which impact women all over the world in the same way, and which are also behind the inequalities between the first and third worlds. I feel it often as I encounter powerful men in our culture in their attempts to relate to me as a woman. Their expectations simply do not allow me to be my whole self. And I find it very interesting how the most successful attempts to raise the standards of living in the poorer parts of the world have only been successful where the help has raised the hopes and opportunities for women. That should say a lot.
A little knowledge is dangerous thing, as they say. Being a nurse, I know a little about the risks of these procedures, anaesthetics, etc., which didn't help me one bit!
Thank God for the familiar faces of nurses I have worked with over the years, friendly professionals whom I trusted and made me feel so much more at ease!
While the anaesthesiologist was reviewing my medical history, Dr. F. made me smile by interrupting and declaring that I'm very healthy, an athlete who runs marathons!
"Not lately!" I said, acutely feeling the lack of running in my life over the past summer.
Well, this surgery is in the hopes of fixing that problem, getting me back out there. After all, I've spent weeks this summer on my back, laid up with a broken toe as well, with nothing but my books, television and magazines on running for company. Those running magazines were my best inspiration!
In those running magazines, I read about races all over the world that would be challenging and fun. I read about ways to be stronger, faster, healthier.
I started day-dreaming about the next race I want to run as soon as I'm better. I laid out new training-regimen after training-regimen for myself.
As soon as my broken toe had healed enough, I headed out on my first run of a new training schedule...only to be stopped by the old problems in my knee.
Ah well. It's all a journey, isn't it. I have no idea how this will end, but this is my journey. I love running and I hope I'll be out there running soon. I hope I'll get strong again, strong enough to start entering some of those races I've dreamed about. And strong enough to do something in my own way for the Ethiopia that I love.
Monday, March 30, 2009
At the expo prior to my most recent race, Around the Bay, in Hamilton, Ontario, it was possible to buy all sorts of running-related gear.
This was on one such bumper sticker:
Running is a mental game and that's why we are all insane.
The race was very well organized, and despite the rain, there were people all along the route cheering us on. Fewer fans than on sunnier races of the past, but for my first attempt, I appreciated those that stood out in the rain!
Along the way, the distance markers all had some sort of inspiring quote on them too, some more inspiring than others. For example, "no pain no gain" does not inspire me. Does it inspire you?
So I started thinking. I would love to hear from anybody what quotes have been the most inspiring to you in your endeavors?
Friday, February 6, 2009
Are you thinking, why? Are you thinking, she's already run the 10 km Great Ethiopian Run in 2008? You'd be right. But, now that I've done it, I have a better idea of what it's like and I'd like to return, in 2009 or 2010 if possible, to run it better. And if I'm not motivated to keep training, I'll just become a couch potato and couch potatoes can't very well just jump up and run a 10 km race.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I finally committed myself to attempting my first marathon in May (details to follow). It is an event here in Canada, so you may be wondering why I'm blogging about it on a site that is supposed to be about running in Ethiopia. I'm so glad you asked!! It may make no sense at all to say this to you, but to me, it's all about Ethiopia. Maybe not November 2009, but I plan to return to do the Great Ethiopian Run again soon. And in the meantime, I have to keep running. And without a kinda scary goal, it's way too easy for me to lose "the juice".
So, recently somebody asked me what does one wear to run in the fluctuating winter temperatures of Canada. What indeed!
Winter running is challenging because running generates a lot of heat and being overdressed and then sweating a lot can cause you to get chilled and quite cold as your clothing gets wet. Therefore, it's a bit of a guessing game at first, to figure out how to dress, to imagine how heated up you actually get once you are well into a nice long run! The worst part of a long winter run is standing about freezing in your running gear (I hate this part!!), which you must do, because you know once you start to run, you get warmed up pretty quickly!
I usually wear:
1. coolmax/dryline underwear (technical material that wicks moisture away from the skin.)
2. smart wool socks (love those!!)
3. a base layer, especially on top, form-fitting with long sleeves, like long underwear, but also of technical material that wicks moisture away. I wear the same on bottom if the temperatures start to dip below -15 degrees C.
4. thermal/breathable long-sleeved running shirt and pants, also of a material that wicks moisture away from the skin.
5. an outer shell/jacket that is wind proof and also breathable. Rarely, I add a shell on the bottom when it's very windy and very cold, eg. -25 degrees C.
6. something on my head that ranges from a headband that covers my ears, to a thin, breathable hat, to a fleecy ski hat and/or balaclava as the temperatures drop and/or the wind rises.
7. fleece/breathable gloves or mitts (my hands are always the last part of my body to warm up!)
8. my Garmin
9. my running shoes
10. my belt with pockets for ID/money/power gels and water bottle (against my body heat, the water bottle hasn't frozen yet!)
Even then, after a run, it's important to get out of the wet gear quickly and into dry stuff because even on the hottest day in the summer, I start to chill and the body needs some time to recover. A warm drink always helps.
Thinking about all that reminded me of how I used to dress for long walks in the winter time. Here is a story I wrote for my granddaughter about that, with pictures! Maybe I should follow that up with pictures of how I dress now to run, eh? I could call it "Gramma Goes for a Winter Run".
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
When I revisited this photo the other day, it made me laugh at my naive enthusiasm. You see, I can see the road in the photo that leads from the top of Entoto, northward. There is a boundary at the top of Entoto, a boundary that marks the beginning of Oromo territory to the north of Addis. And that road, in the photo above, is already in Oromo Territory.
Where the road crosses into Oromo Territory, there is a check point. But I, on one of the occasions we had to cross here, didn't really notice the armed guards (yeah, I know: again!). I was thinking simply, "a boundary", like state lines, or crossing into another province in Canada. Sometimes we even have a colourful billboard at the border: "Rah Rah, and all that." But farthest from my mind was that it might be a hostile border!
However, as soon as my companions mildly suggested that taking photos of the border might not be a good idea, I noticed the armed guards! One of my friends teased me saying, he made it a habit not to photograph people carrying guns!
I remembered other "border crossings" in other parts of Ethiopia. The shared histories of the Amharas, Oromo people and other ethnic groups in Ethiopia does not mean that things are all that friendly between them. They may be a united front to outsiders, but there are hostilities within the nation. Of the many political groups who represent the interests of the Oromo people, some are in direct opposition to the current Tigray-led government and human rights groups have condemned the government's persecution of the Oromo people on many occasions.
So, even though the guards looked rather relaxed, even sleepy, I put my camera away!
Saturday, January 17, 2009
In my daydream strolls through some of Addis' finest gardens, I'm astounded as well as disappointed by the gardens of the Sheraton. They are beautiful, indeed, but I am surprised that the grounds are not larger. Everything also smacks of being very new, unlike some of the other older properties of Addis' embassies and hotels. There, the trees are quite impressive. However, I'm much more relaxed here and there is no obvious armed guard as in so much of the rest of Addis! In fact, several of the staff on the grounds take the time to chat with me as if I could afford to be a guest of the hotel -- a lovely idea, that!!
After the race, I finally had the opportunity to relax a little and daydream my way through some gardens. The first garden I visited was the garden on the grounds of the Ghion Hotel. Hardly anybody else was walking in the gardens. I ran into one white lady, binoculars in hand, who was bird-watching. The gardens are a lovely oasis in the middle of Addis.
There is one thing, however, that I cannot get use to. Armed guards stroll casually through the grounds. And after my trauma after the race, I can't help wondering. Are the guards keeping rabble out of the gardens, are they protecting me, or are they watching me...???
It is a concept I am not used to at all. I tend to go through my life not really thinking much about people who have less than I do. I tend to look around me and assume people are pretty much like me. I have no concept of what it is like to be surrounded by desperation so profound that it might push people to steal or worse. A comment an Ethiopian friend made has stuck with me. He commented on how nice it must be to live in a house that is not surrounded by walls topped with razor wire or shards of glass, to be able to look out your windows and see an unobstructed view of the countryside.
Sometimes, I think when we travel, we forget how others look at us. For example, Europeans and North Americans are viewed as incredibly wealthy by many in Africa. We may be enjoying what is strange, different, quaint and unique about their costume and customs, but is the way of life for them. Our reactions are completely filtered through our prior experience and rarely prepare us to just see, without the added layers of our judgments.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Tej is a honey-wine. It can be quite wonderful. The first bottle arrived and was rather fiery stuff. Cooled a little with a milder bottle, it went down pretty smoothly and it could have been far too easy for me to lose track of how many birilles I had consumed!
I had tasted tej before in Lalibela, where it tasted somewhat muddy and had a pronounced after-taste of minerals. This time the tej was far superior and justifiably deserving of its reputation as the traditional drink of Ethiopian kings.
The appetizer, tibs, most probably sliced up lamb, pan fried in butter with onion and mild chili peppers, served with berbere on the side. Injera, the bread/pancake-like staple of the Ethiopian diet is made from an endemic grain called tef. A roll of it is often placed at the side and one breaks off a piece of it to use as an eating utensil. Food is usually eaten by everyone off a shared plate.