Small Steps

I overslept again today. The dilemma is the following: I can not sleep without running the fan, which is quite noisy. With the fan running, I cannot sleep without earplugs. But with plugged ears, I cannot hear my alarm clock anymore. The solution appears to be a high volume alarm clock, which I need to buy rather sooner than later.

However, I went by moto to one of the persons I met yesterday in one of the meetings. He is the country representative of his organization and happened to study very close to where I spend my last two semesters in upstate New York. And he provided me with a couple of good articles as well as a handbook listing all the development organizations in the country. So I found a rather small number of organizations which potentially can provide me with the kind of information I am looking for. After an insightful and very specific conversation I went back home and later to the compound of the Ministry of Interior, where ‘my’ project office is located. My interim boss Shelley flew to Italy today and I met another GTZ (Andrew) consultant who serves as my reference person (Andrew) for the time of Shelley’s absence. Interestingly, although GTZ is sort of a German government organization, I did not meet a single German yet. That is not to say that I need Germans around me. Shelley is from Canada, Andrew from Britain, another consultant is from the US, and the rest seems to be local staff. This appears to be a good thing, since it gives jobs and training to locals and enables them to manage their own affairs.

Silver Pagoda

Since I was there two hours before our appointment (I confused the time, possibly due to jet lag), I got the chance to talk to several of the local staff. This again was very interesting. Their general attitude towards minorities seems to be rather different (more critical, if not hostile) than the attitude exposed by foreign consultants. However, these short discussions are in no way representative. The climate in the office seems to be very friendly and positive. Particularly local people display a disarming smile on every occasion.

Andrew is another nice person. Although he is very busy, he dedicated about two hours to introduce me to his interpretation of the current political situation, which was quite interesting. However, he did not have much to say about ‘my’ issue. Actually, so far nobody had much to say about cultural minorities. People told me that there has not been much research on the situation of minority groups, although most of them agree that it is important to address the topic. Accordingly, the information I get is confusing and frequently contradicting. For the time being, it seems that I am rather on my own regarding the subject of my research.

Independence Monument

So far, it was raining heavily every day in the afternoon and I though this happens during the entire rainy season. However, it did not rain today. Unfortunately, because there is no cloud to shield from the brutal sun light and nothing to cool down the temperature to bearable levels.

Late in the afternoon I was back in my guesthouse. I went to a close by supermarket and was surprised to find everything one would expect in a Western retail store. Pricy, though. Apparently, this is a place where foreigners and rich locals buy. In general, I was surprised to find that there is a significant number of foreigners. Backpackers as well as people that seem to work here. This makes things easier. In Ethiopia, where I spend a couple of month, I was always the only white guy on the street. This got me much attention. More than I would have wanted, since I always felt ‘on stage’, which is a very stressful thing for me. Here, a white fellow is not such an exotic event and I feel I can more freely through the town.

The high number of internet cafes and cell phone shops is surprising, too. Virtually every other business seems to supply cell phones. And most of the rest are internet cafes. Everybody seems to have a cell phone and apparently people like to use them.

Later in the evening, I went to one of the internet cafes to check my email. Back in the guesthouse I started to read some of the papers that accumulate in my cupboard and to write down this here. Then I ordered a double shot of tequila. It turned out to be a generously filled water glass. I just had it and I better not continue writing at this point.

2 thoughts on “Small Steps”

  1. Hi Forscher,
    deinem Ouput nach zu urteilen, stecktst du wohl voll in deinem Element.
    hast du schon einen neuen Wecker? Falls nicht hätte ich noch einen venezuela-erprobten der mir nicht gehört 😉

  2. Hi,

    schöne Homepage hast du hier. Ich bin ja ganz begeistert von deinen Fotos. Man könnte meinen, das ist das Paradies wo du bist, wenn ich es nicht besser wüßte… Ich werd ab jetzt öfter mal vorbeischauen.

    Grüße aus Potsdam

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