Sunday, March 2, 2014

Farewell Beklobet Branch

Sorry, I know I've been terrible at keeping up with the blog. I need to update you on Christmas travels, my Aunt Sue / Uncle Gale's visit, my Mom's visit, general happenings in Addis, and Kilimanjaro. It's hard to keep the blog up when you are at the office until 10 pm or midnight every night doing interviews (after the normal job is done for the day). I'll get to it all; I promise.

First priority is that today was my last day of Church in Addis (probably). After this week of work, I'm supposed to be traveling for the next couple weeks in rural Ethiopia / Djibouti. I was released from my callings and had to say goodbye to all the people I've come to love in the branch. I will greatly miss these saints.

My Beklobet Branch family:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Cola Wars: The Ethiopian Front

Just so you know, the cola war between Coke and Pepsi is alive and well in Ethiopia.

As usual, Coke strikes first.

What does every "traditional" Ethiopian restaurant need? That's right. Coke.

But soon, you realize Pepsi is not rolling over without a fight. What are you going to drink at the gas station?

A little reminder while you're buying from the street vendor.

One of the major fronts is the restaurants and hotels. I'm not sure if they get paid or just get a free sign for their business.

Not sure about Pepsi's choice in sponsoring "Testy Burger," but in general I think the trench warfare on this front is at a standstill. Plus, in actuality, both are losing to the several Ethiopian beer companies, who totally own this space.

I mean seriously, even here where the wall is a huge Coca-Cola ad, the two establishments are sponsored by rival Ethiopian beer companies.

So where's that leave our combatants?

Pepsi bus stop!

 Yeah, but who's got the bus!

(Author's note: This bus is not in any way, shape, or form indicative of Ethiopian buses. This is probably the nicest bus I've seen in the entire country.)

But once you get off the bus, what're you gonna see? Another Pepsi bus stop.

Oh yeah, well the airport's the real cutting edge for transportation.

We've got some of those, too. In fact, you can even see our carts in your picture! In case you're blind, here's a close up.

Fair point...but we've got the airport toll booth...

...and the farewell sign driving up to the Bahir Dar airport.

Even our carts are branded.

From a giant building ad with a Coca-Cola heart inside of Ethiopia...

...all the way to Coke branded souks.

"Enjoy your movies with Pepsi" at the only major ferenji (foreigner) movie theater in the country.

Whatever, Coke building ad!

Wait a minute! What's the green at the lower left side. Zoom out some.

Ha! You're sharing your building with 7-Up - a Dr. Pepper brand. Man, that's just embarrassing.

Coke branded Lalibela hotel.

Yeah, I'm real impressed by your "hotl."

Addis's Central Park (aka Peacock Park) is sponsored by Coke.

And Santa drinks Coke.

Well, this guy clearly drinks Pepsi.

The coup de grĂ¢ce, Coke branded souk in the shape of a Coke bottle!

Hmmm...legitimately impressed, but I branded a traffic circle!

Anyway, you get the idea. The bigger story is that in Ethiopia, it seems the enemies are breaking the rules and fraternizing.

Why is there a Pepsi ad in the middle of these Coke ads?

Why is one side of this fence branded Coke and the other side branded Pepsi?

Why is there a Pepsi fridge right next to a Coke fridge at this hotel?

And perhaps most disturbingly to the people at HQ, how can this restaurant serve Coke to one person at this table and Pepsi to the other?

Someone's definitely getting fired over this.

As a closing note, I wanted to discuss Ethiopia's dry season. I know you're wondering, "How dry is that? Surely it does sometimes rain during the dry season." Well, right you are! As I learned in November, all it takes is for a huge tropical cyclone to hit Somalia. Add a few days, and Addis gets some rain.

I joke, but this actually turned out to be a huge deal because the couple days of rain in the highland areas around Addis led the about to be harvested tef and wheat to start sprouting, which ruined some of the crop this season. Turns out weather is the fear of farmers all over the world.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Last story from Abu Dhabi October and St. Louis Thanksgiving

The cure for not blogging in awhile - long layover in Jeddah!

I have a lot of non-Ethiopia stuff for a blog on Ethiopia, huh? Oh well, the nieces and nephews just provide so much entertainment value.

One last story from my October Abu Dhabi visit:
Uncle Charles: "Evelyn, how did you get such a huge bruise on your leg?"
Evelyn: "I don't know."
Hyrum: "From me!"
...ah, sibling love.

So, given I spent so much time in Abu Dhabi with Emma's family and I didn't want my nephew Dillon to feel unloved, I went to St. Louis for Thanksgiving to hang out with my sister Careen, her husband Mark, and three-year-old Dillon. Sorry Careen that you don't get as many blog posts but people who live outside the US get more quality time given my visits don't endanger my tax-exempt status...actually, given the large amounts of time I've spent with Emma's family, I should probably be apologizing to her instead...sorry Emma.

Anyway, at Thanksgiving I took 6.5 days (3.5 days in St. Louis and 3 traveling) to visit St. Louis. Now, picture time!

Dillon shooting me with his Buzz Lightyear gun.

It's nice to know that other places besides Ethiopia have trouble with their signs, too.

St. Louis Arch - One of those things that's always there, but you somehow never make time to visit...until now.

Dillon and Careen at the base.

Dillon "holding" Mommy's hat while she went to the bathroom.

Dillon seriously contemplating his mission in the space pod.

 What are they looking at?

Oh yeah, that.

At the highest spot in the arch or the "Book of Mormon" position, if you will (hurray for bad keystone puns).

Post arch recovery time.

Peek-a-boo. I see you.

Funny story about the "cushion" Dillon's lying on. When Dillon was a little younger, he went to visit my Mom and Dad. They have a cushion just like that for Newton (their dog). Dillon lay on the cushion so much during his visit, that he got one of his own (sans the dog hair).

Aunt Laurel also came to visit. Just like in Abu Dhabi in October, she made sure to only intersect with me for one that a not-so-subtle hint?

Dillon was excited because as all the little people in our family know, Aunt Laurel = CANDY!

After shopping for candy, we sent shopping at the Goodwill Outlet, which is definitely my way to shop.

Anyone need a set of steak knives?

Aunt Laurel decided to redo Halloween for Dillon one month late (thus the earlier candy picture...though honestly, I'm pretty sure candy would have been involved in Laurel's visit anyway).

"Dillon, who are you?"

"I'm Batman."

Aunt Laurel is so helpful with candy eating, too!

As per usual, Mark went all out for Thanksgiving. Major props! Laurel came in a day late, so we did Thanksgiving on Friday. Between that and her Halloween timing, Dillon should be confused for years to come :)

Dillon and Aunt Laurel.

Dillon and Uncle's true...I look more fun.