Friday, February 18, 2011

Miss Me?

Oh hello…so it seems (by Mommy’s order) that I’m back from my little “leave of absence” from the blogging world. My break could be explained away with a variety of excuses (“I was studying for the GMAT”, “I was busy writing the CCHIPs Annual Report”, “I was trying to learn to use a Dvorak keyboard so typing was really slow”, “I was travelling”, “I had no internet”, etc.) but in reality, we all know that I stopped my posting for one reason only: self-gratification.

That’s right. I kept a list of each and every person who emailed/facebooked/texted me about my lack of updates, all of whom will receive their proper thanks in time. And once that list reached a sufficient length for me to feel cared about and missed, I figured it was time to come back to you. (The obvious corollary to this is that I also noted those who did NOT realize I haven’t updated my blog for a month and a half. For no other reason than to be able to rank my friends and family.) So, to those of you who do check my blog more frequently than once a month: hello, I’m back, I’m sorry, I promise to continue to provide you with a tool for productive procrastination in the future. And to the others: I know who you are.

Now, in the self-centered attitude of anybody conceited enough to keep a blog (and a private one at that!), I assume that you are just oh-so-curious about what I’ve been up to for the past month and a half. To make these adventures, which spanned 2 continents and 4 countries a little more manageable, I figured I’d present it in a list of Lessons Learned by Eli Mitchell Between January 30 and February 17, 2011: (and you can just fill in the imaginary rest)

1. Marines do not appreciate being asked “Aren’t you like really over-qualified to be a glorified security officer?”…while they are buying your drinks.

2. It is way easier to get into the US Embassy after-hours for drinking purposes (photo ID required, but not checked) than during the day time for legitimate reasons, like getting passport pages (appointment needed, passport required, photo ID taken as collateral, electronics confiscated during visit, bag checked, metal detector used).

3. Germans obnoxiously follow rules. Obnoxiously. Forget about the dilemma of if you would run a red light on an otherwise deserted road in Texas, a German would not cross the street on such a road unless the crossing signal was solidly green. This matter created awkward situations when my Rwandan attitude of roads existing for people – not cars – and 20 degrees being far too cold to allow oneself to stand outside any longer than necessary caused me to *gasp* jaywalk in a few critical situations. At least I was not called a “Murderer!” as a result (this has happened to one of my friends living in Berlin)…but I did receive more stares than in an average minute in Rwanda. Another point on the rule following: they don’t even have turnstiles to use the subway – they just assume everybody honestly buys a ticket because everybody in the country follows rules.

4. But Germans also like drinking. A lot. I was offered a beer before taking my GMAT at 10am. And everybody at my dad’s office cracked open beers at 6pm on the dot. Work was only kind of over at that point…

5. African/European airlines really really care about the weight of carry-on bags. Probably because they like following rules so much.

6. Former British colonies (Kenya) are really nice to visit because everybody speaks English…but it also means that they drive on the wrong/left side of the road. (Okay, I actually knew this…but my mom learned this lesson…the hard way.)

7. Apparently not everybody in the world eats only potatoes and fried food for every meal. Somewhere during my 6 months here, I had come to consider this completely normal.

8. Rwanda is really really clean. I’d always heard this before, but in my classic pessimism/criticism, I would point out some eensy bit of trash on the side of the road as evidence of it not being clean. Now that I’ve seen Nairobi and Addis Ababa, I will no longer be doing this.

9. Despite cultural values that classify a pleasantly plump Rwandan as “attractive” or “healthy”, Rwandans have a double standard and consider pleasantly plump muzungus unhealthy and unfit for gorilla treks. The extension here is that because my mommy is skinny…the obvious assumption is that she is fit for a FIVE HOUR gorilla trek (usually about 2 hours). Damn double standards.

10. The only thing worse than flying drunk (Who in the world schedules flights at 2am?? Oh I know! Ethiopian Air!), is flying hung over. And the only thing worse than flying hung over is starting a 7 hour flight while drunk...and ending it hung over.

11. African airline security checks are actually hilarious. (I say hilarious because I’ve taken on the attitude that I might as well just laugh about every ridiculous thing I come across in Africa…makes life a lot less bitter.) The evidence of this is being told twice about the same bottle of water that I better “drink it before getting on the plane.” Same bottle of water…didn’t fill it up between flights…obviously did not feel the need to just drink it before getting on the plane.*

12. Muzungu nightlife is the same everywhere in Africa and I can’t dance anywhere in Africa.

*Apparently a lot of my lessons are about flying. This is perhaps because my flights over a 2 week period consisted of: Kigali – Addis – Frankfurt – Berlin – Berlin – Frankfurt – Addis – Addis – Nairobi – Mombasa – Nairobi – Addis – Addis – Nairobi – Kigali. (But at least they were cheap? Maybe? No…no they weren’t.)

1 comment:

Sarah said...

FINALLY! i thought you had disappeared to somewhere even more remote.