27 July, 2010

More Job Hunters

Today I sifted through 48 applications as we are looking to hire a new cashier. Yet again, there were quite a few resumes that brought either a chuckle or provided laugh-out-loud humour. There were one or two more people who said they are combatant who probably wish I thought they were competent (reference to post of a couple months ago). A few applicants have skills in treasure, which would no doubt make it easy for them as a cashier to replace whatever cash loss there may be from errors in bookkeeping. Though I don’t really remember some other funny typos, as they all began to run together, the very first line of the very first resume I opened set the tone, and seemed hilarious as I hadn’t grown tired and bored of the process yet. After the To: and Subject: lines, the first line of the cover letter reads:
Irreverence to your advertising concerning a vacant …

Although the candidate didn’t have the qualifications to be shortlisted and participate in the exam or interview stages, I did consider calling him to the office just to see if I’d want to hire him anyway. I might rather like someone farting, burping, being coarse or carrying out any number of other irreverent behaviors to spice things up in the office. Currently Mr. Been is our most irreverent staff member, and I must admit that his stories and general demeanor actually provide us with good dinner conversations and bring us some laughter quite regularly. He's probably the Somali equivalent of a dirty old man. His inappropriateness isn’t over the line, though, but is actually a little bit of what I’d expect from the Mr. Bean most of you are familiar with.

That’s just a little story from today, and I hope the other pictures also give you something to stimulate the visual side of your brain.

Some pics of the sand blowing across the road the other day

There is a truck coming if you look close enough in the above - maybe a hundred metres in front of the vehicle, and barely visible

This will serve as a waterpoint for the community. It fills in the rainy season, and then they use for months on end when it is dry. Chlorine tablets are provided at the household level to treat the water as you can imagine that sitting in a concrete hole for months on end breeds all kinds of nastiness.

20 July, 2010

Another 1000

A few more pics for you to enjoy.

It is currently the windy season in Burao. People had talked about the wind coming a month or so ago, but I didn't realize what it was really like. Last week and the week before were quite windy, but not so bad. We just kept the windows closed so that things didn't get too dusty, and the weather was still warm, so the wind didn't bother me too much. The last three days, however, I have began to discover what it can really mean to be windy. The office floor was cleaned on Saturday. On Sunday morning, we left the central door open as we always do. Within a couple of hours, there wasn't a bit of the tile floor that didn't have sand on it. The door has been shut since then, the floor cleaned again, and still the sand has managed to make it's way (not as badly, but still visibly) throughout the entire hallway. In the room where the TV is, there's a cord that we bring in through the window in order to plug into the DSTV box that attaches to the satellite dish. The cable is maybe 8mm in diameter. In spite of this tiny gap that leaves the window open, the TV screen, seats, floor, carpet, and everything else in the room gets covered in a layer of sand each day. When walking between the office and the house, the sandblasting cleans me enough that I don't think I need to shower the rest of windy season. Our health manager said today that when she tilts her head to the side after walking between the house and office, sand pours out like an hourglass. I don't know how much longer the wind will be this serious, but the windy season lasts several more weeks. I hope that it goes back to just a constant heavy wind instead of these crazy constant sandstorm winds.

I write about the wind as I have above, but I live in a cement block house. A little sand on dishes, furniture, and the floor is a little annoying, but not bad at all. Most people around here, however, live in makeshift shelters that are made of sticks and covered in fabric, old tin cans cut up and flattened, and cardboard. What is a minor annoyance to me that I'm experiencing for the first time is something that the people who live around me have put up with on a much more severe level for weeks every year their entire lives. I doubt their clothes will be sand free for quite some time. The food they have, where they sleep, everything for them is nowhere near as protected as me and my things are.

In spite of some minor inconveniences, I am very thankful to God for what he has allowed and continues to allow me to experience. We each have perspectives that no one else has on life, and God uses those to shape us and mold us into what he wants us to be and do. Don't feel sorry for me, don't feel sorry for my neighbors whose lives are more greatly affected by the sand that covers everything. They know how to cope and have bigger problems than some sand. We all do. I do, you do, and your neighbors do. It's up to each of us to try to overcome the obstacles and challenges and get involved in the things God leads us to that can impact and assist our own and other's lives.

One of the displaced pcamps we work in, quite crowded. What even a lot of normal homes look like for local residents

Home sweet home (roof terrace, balcony, nice place!!)

Favorite lunch activity - relax on the roof in the hammock (before the wind anyway)

Walls constructed of used milk powder tins, oats, tomato paste, and whatever else they can find

I think I'm gonna try this with my beard sometime soon. What d'ya think?

Another view of typical camp structures

A random shot of some people in town

11 July, 2010

Hup Holland Hup

The World Cup is winding down. The final starts in less than 4 hours. I’ve now got to figure out something else to give time and attention to and take interest in. There are not so many things that stand out as obvious choices in a place like Somaliland. However, a recent discovery has proved to add a little bit to the repetitive routine here. The shop nearby where we go and pick up sodas and such received a new delivery that consisted of many new items. Imagine my delight to walk in and find Nutella, Heinz ketchup, Kelloggs Coco Pops, Twix, Snickers, and Kit Kats. I thought it was Christmas until I remembered they don’t celebrate that here, and then I realized it is July. And even though it isn’t Christmas, I decided to celebrate anyway and bought one or more of almost all the new toys on the shelves.

Coming back to the important stuff, though, is the fact that tonight is the World Cup Championship Game. Spain and Holland will compete to win the most watched sporting event in the world. If the game is anything like last night’s Runner’s up match between Germany and Uruguay, it will live up to the hype. I didn’t really expect it after Germany took the 1-0 lead in the middle of the first half, but after Uruguay managed to tie it, they came out after the break and even took the lead 2-1. After tying the score at 2-all, a goal in the final ten minutes looked like it was going to be enough for Germany to eke out a win. But, just at the end of the game, a free kick by Uruguay almost gave them the storybook ending they were looking for to cap off their unexpected run to the semifinals. The crossbar had other ideas, and the shot deflected off it and away from any Uruguayans who would’ve liked to knock it back into the goal to send the game to Extra Time. Uruguay also played in the second most exciting match of the Cup that I saw when they defeated Ghana on penalties after a deliberate handball kept Ghana from an outright win at the end of Extra Time. The 4-1 German defeat of England that included a goal taken away by the referees and the U.S. win over Algeria to win their group were probably the next two most exciting games. I just hope the final isn’t a boring let-down after the excitement that has been building over the last month.

One other thing about this final that makes it interesting regardless of the outcome, is that I’ll be watching with a Dutch. The Deputy Country Director who’s here in the field now is from the Netherlands, so will be watching with great anticipation as his team vies against Spain to be World Cup Champions for the first time ever. Of course he’d rather be in Amsterdam watching amongst millions of other rowdy Dutchies. Or he’d prefer to be with those 15 or so women who were arrested for trying to take away from Budweiser’s thunder as ‘official beer of the World Cup’ by wearing some small oranje (that’s not normal orange, but Dutch oranje) dresses to the Netherlands first game against Denmark with some other beer company’s name on the label. But, alas, he’s left having to watch the biggest football match of the last 4 years, and biggest of his life with someone who calls the game soccer, and others from a country whose team has never even qualified for a World Cup (Kenya and Somaliland). Oh well, we’ll have a good time. And, if they win, we’ll celebrate with one of the other new goodies that arrived in the latest shipment at the nearby shop. Non-alcoholic grape drink that’s got a foil wrapping over the cap and is made to look like champagne. Yep, that and some non-alcoholic malt beverages are the closest thing we can get around here to what 95% of other Dutch are going to be drinking while watching the game and celebrating with after. It’s ok, though, because everyone knows Heineken is not good anyway.

06 July, 2010

1000 Words

Unfortunately, I'm notorious for being awful at taking photographs. I think that's mostly because every camera I've ever owned I have either broken/lost/had stolen. I may actually be an expert photographer with an innate gift for capturing life's precious moments, but just been missing out on the opportunity to do so.

Thankfully, however, I often have people surrounding me who take photos and generously share them with me. I'd have no pictures from University, my first trips to Africa, road trips, or pretty much any other experiences in my life were it not for great friends who so graciously provide me with snapshots. One such visitor to Burao in April/May is responsible for the pictures you're about to see. I won't add much to the photo other than just a caption, and will let you appreciate what photos can say on their own.

More pics to come soon!

Kids the world over love climbing trees

Much more beautiful scenery than I'd expected!

How I Roll...

Tour Guide: (Bring your own Translator)

Who'd have thought there was a tourism site in Somaliland?!?!

Some Old Rock Paintings, really cool!!

Happy Independence Day!!

Tons of food to give away