Friday, December 18, 2009


So thanks Alex for logging into my blog and keeping everyone up to date. The reason I am not updating my blog is... because it (blogspot) is currently blocked by the government and in further detail: I live in a mud hut with a leaky tin roof, I poop in a hole, and I have to travel 50 min down a mountain road by car to get to the nearest place with interenet. When that computer is not in use it costs 40 cents a minuet to use it and did I mention it's 56k. Now, things I have been doing: sending everyone an e-mail nearly once a week, writting you letters, thinking about you, wishing you good health, and now, thinking of a new password you don't know. Love, Jaret.

Things I love about Ethiopia…The people are so beautiful. Most people say things like this about countries they visit, but really it’s actually true about Ethiopia. I seriously think anyone here could be a super model, men and women. It’s truly amazing. I’ve been from north to south and a little east to west and despite innumerous and varied nationality differences everyone here is gorgeous.

The children here also find themselves firmly in the cute category and have such amazing energy. Sure they are covered in snot, and sometimes helping mom pack manure for use as bricks in houses (yeah you read that right), but they are adorable. They are so patient and willing to spend the entire day following me around providing me endless vocabulary for everything I see. It’s also a lot of fun to have around three dozen children following me around. Sometimes it gets to be a bit much, but feeling like a rock star hasn’t worn off.

Ethiopian hospitality is off the hook. I get invited to a million houses a day and sure that might be because I am a little different looking, but I see it in all the interactions. They are constantly inviting each other in every greeting (which each last approximately 7 hours). It’s amazing that after living with my host family for three months, they still haven’t stopped inviting me to eat. They lavish me with food that is sometimes beyond their means to provide. Meat is really expensive here and still despite my protests they try to feed it to me nearly every night for dinner. Sometimes, I get really annoyed when I am told to “Eat, eat, eat” while I am in mid chew, but when I think about it, it’s just another sign of their unwavering affection and utter hospitality. My family dog, Bo-Bee has become my traveling companion. He rocks beyond reason. He recently started following me as I walk around town. This has several benefits, most notably I look cool. He also gets in-between me and anyone who wants to pester me. He follows along and I get exclamations of look at that dog. Sometimes people even try to chase him away for me, thinking he must be pestering me. It’s probably my greatest pleasure to tell them he’s my friend. He is also a sweet dog, because he will eat bread which is relatively inexpensive, but also strange. Strange, but in a country where food, of any kind, is scarce it makes more sense.

The landscape is by far the most beautiful I have ever seen. I know I am not really an expert and I am sure all of you know that visiting the Tri-state area, doesn’t give you a lot of variety, but here I’ve seen mountains, deserts, jungles, rivers, lakes, and plains. It’s all here. I’ve been told by other volunteers that it reminds them of Oregon, if Oregon had deserts and jungles in-between its rolling landscapes. I am ever impressed by the variety and beauty I find here just by looking. In my site town of Atsbi I am 40 kms from one of Ethiopia’s remaining forests, I live on a mountain, I’m less than 20 kms from the sulfurous deserts of the Afar (doesn’t that name just sound “deserty”) region.

For now, that’s the end of what I love about Ethiopia, … I’ll be sure to update you as I am able to lift my jaw from the floor and compose a thought.

Much Love, Jaret

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Not Updating My Blog

I'm having a great time in Ethiopia helping and meeting people. Most of all, though, I enjoy not updating my blog and keeping everyone at home wondering about my adventures.

Ron Paul 2012!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Seeing People... you know, casually.

So I am trying to make the rounds to visit everyone for the last time ever, which I think is something I have been available for, but in truth I haven't. Every one of my friends are starting to realize that I am going to be gone for 27 months and I will probably not talk to them all that much unless we e-mail, which many of them rarely do (thank God, I hate getting forwarded messages with pictures of animals doing really human stuff like driving a car, I mean if I wanted to see that stuff I would just watch americas "funniest" home videos) and hell, most of my friends rarely call. I think those are the reasons they are my friends, but they're calling now. I've had three invites to the cubs game this Saturday and to be fair, two of those invites are from friends I have to see. The point is, that I know I am going; I know I won't be able to see you, but I still love all of you and I won't think less of you if you don't write me. In fact I am enforcing a no letter writing rule! Seriously, I don't want any letters mailed to me. This is not because I am heartless, but rather because it costs $70 to mail a letter to Ethiopia, which isn't even guaranteed to get there and if it does it will take four months to arrive.

Tonight I saw Andrew and Stevi. It was awesome! Not only did I eat a $60 meal at Stevi's really posh restaurant, but I also drank some amazing wine. We played this game that Andrew probably invented (if he didn't, which is likely, I am starting the internet rumor that he did right now) where you name a movie and someone has to name an actor or actress in that movie, then the next person has to name another movie with said actor or actress. You get three strikes and have to go in order. It was so much fun, but that was mostly because my love, Beverly D'Angelo came up like 6 times.

On the way home I drove through downtown since they live on the North side (said with a really nasally aristocratic tone) and I live on the South. I thought it would be great to swing through the circle instead of taking 465. I was really happy I did, because I know how much I am going to miss Indianapolis. I know I've spent the past few years working/schooling out of town, but there is a lot to love about Indy. I've been so lucky to live in such a beautiful city, to have the material things I've had, to be a child of the parents that I am, and to be given the opportunities those awesome parents afforded me through example and support. I'm lucky to be able to join the Peace Corps and give back to the city, state, and nation that put me through school. I'm just a lucky guy.

So I will be sure to make time and visit everyone before I place them on the no letter writing rule. I will be sure to provide quality online contact information. I will eventually pack the crap I need to take (still need a non-stick skillet and a bedazzled alarm clock[j/k on the alarm clock]), I will leave the USA without my usual unfinished business.

Adam and Nikki - Tomorrow
Duke - Tomorrow or Sunday
Mike and Family - Saturday
Andrew and Stevi - once more if I have time
Uncle Don - ASAP (if he is awake at 3 am)
Mom, Dad, Brother - every waking hour

To all the people I wasn't able to visit, because you are so far away and lets face it I hate you (j/k). I will miss you every day and the pictures I am taking of you will be sloppy/worn raw with kisses. That means you Ethan and Whit! and you, Alex and Ashley!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Watching Videos

I've been camping out on YouTube for the past few hours watching video after video about Ethiopoia. This video-view includes shoulder popping Ethiopian-pop, Italian-Ethiopian 'reconciliation' videos, press interviews with Meles Zenawi (Prime Minister), and most interestingly food videos featuring the star of Ethiopian cuisine, Injera (pronounced injara). Injera is a type of bread and because I am the curious type, I ended up google(ing) it. I was pleased to discover that because the grain has several benefits farmers in Kansas are beginning to grow Teff, the grain used to make injera. The farmers there have found that Teff cut for hay without harvesting the seed is like, and I quote, "cotton candy for horses."

I was rather amused by that so I thought I'd share. Maybe I will be able to mail some Teff to the Kressin household as a gift. I think that's exactly what horses are missing, horse catnip.

oh! on an unrelated note I still haven't packed and everything is piling ever higher in my living room. I was so confident that I would easily slide under the 80 pound rule when I first got my assignment, but now I am not so sure. I keep getting advice like: "bring a hobby." and "if you have a skill you've always wanted to learn, bring the required texts/materials" and I keep taking things on like a harmonica; yeah, I said harmonica.

T-minus 4 days! ARE YOU PUMPED?????

Monday, September 28, 2009

Skype is illegal in Ethiopia

So, I found out today that Skype is illegal in Ethiopia. This is kind of a bummer because I had planned to use my laptop to not only e-mail, but call mom and dad in the states. Now I'll be lucky to call them at all. Its kind of a bummer, I am going to hope I can use Teamspeak. If I can, I'll have to very carefully, teach mom and dad.

By the way, I only have 6 more days left until lift off! I am so excited.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reading List

I have stopped trying to prepare for Ethiopia. This is not to say that I am ready, unafraid, or confident, but I am resigned to the idea that Ethiopia will be there when I land. I am busy spending time with relatives, friends, and the dog.

I finished work yesterday and I now have recaptured around 50-60 hours a week. I have been putting around the house thinking of things I want to take. My mental packing list is comical, books and books and books are all I seem to want packed. I am reasonably confident that my fluctuating weight will render all clothes unnecessary. I think of things like: "I bet they don't have harmonicas..." or "What if I end up in a philosophical conversation without the resource of the internet..." and "I wonder if my host family would like basketball, I should probably pack my baseball gloves."

Here are the books I plan to pack. They mostly consist of all the material I avoided reading in philosophy classes and a few needed emotional strengths.

Philosophical Essays - G.W. Leibniz
Capital Vol. 1 - Karl Marx
The initial Dragonlance trilogy - Margret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Redwall - Brian Jacques
Where The Wild Things Are - Maurice Senedak
Meditations - Descartes
Sartre - David Drake
Cunning - Don Herzog

From what I have read, I wont really have any downtime to read until I am at my assignment, because mostly at night, when work is done, things can be a little lonely. I am unsure if I'll ever get to that point, but I figure at least I'll have books nearby which will comfort me all the same.

I am off to play a rousing game of lickface with Josie (the name of our dog, in case you are worried and maybe you still are)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A rumbling preperation

I am standing in the Kitchen at home. I just got home from work. I have been working late and my commute is an hour and ten minuets one way. It's easily 3:30 in the morning. I am munching on a turkey sandwich and reading the paper -this for me, is par for the course. I look down at a napkin, with a little brown stain in the corner and some initially indiscernible writing on it. October 4th!, Richard Foxberry (names are changed to protect the innocent), call, church, Don, and Oct 4th again. Now individually all of these words seem meaningless, but in my mothers impeccable style the facts are crystal clear.

My mom has this thing when she writes down notes that she uses anything nearby. She loves writing on things that aren't intended for writing: cardboard boxes, junk mail, tupperware, and of course napkins. She writes notes to help her remember important things, because she firmly believes she has Alzheimer's, even though we all know she doesn't - we play along. She will write pieces of a story while she is on the phone and each piece will be vigorously underlined in the greatest of "uh-huh" time-killing manners. So there the words were. "October 4th!" accompanied by a beautiful double swoop underline, Richard Foxberry with a single straight line, "call" circled, "church" triple underlined, "Don" no decoration, and finally "Oct 4th" vigorously underlined by a dark black scribble that nearly tore the napkin.

I could guess at the meaning, but I knew the feeling. I just kind of looked at the napkin and I'll admit I cried a little bit. By a bit I mean I kind of sobbed. By sobbed I mean I balled. It was a combination of being tired, having a lot on my mind, and knowing that my "dream" is so close. I was looking around for something to wipe my face and blow my nose and I just started laughing.

The napkin was the only thing nearby.

I laughed pretty hard and I understood that everything was going to be alright. I made a mental note to call Richard in the morning, mom had mentioned that he had been to Ethiopia before and I should talk to him. He went to our church and Don was his neighbor, but I am still leaving on October 4th.

October 4th to Ethiopia!