I Got a Boob Job in Ethiopia. (read for context)

Earlier this year (2016), March to May, I went to Ethiopia for work. One of my projects is there and was in need of more direct support since, until then, everything was being managed and coordinated remotely. This post will make very little reference to work because…well that’s just how I’ve rolled online! Also because it was equally, if not more enriching for my personal development and self awareness and the stamps in my passport marked me learning the world a little more.

Sooooo…where to begin. It was the first time I went to a country I had never been not knowing anyone at all…that’s not completely true. The first one I did that SOLO and for that long not knowing anyone – 2 months is a long time. When the opportunity came up, the challenge excited me and per usual, being the pragmatist, I mentally prepared myself to be able to withstand whatever the emotional challenges of taking a leap would be. It was definitely going to happen and I had fears, but that wasn’t going to stop the show.

Got there and hit the road running and there was a lot to do, but I made a deliberate effort to personally experience the country. I looked up restaurants, tried foods, visited museums and traveled to different regions.

Here are some tidbits about the country:

  • population = about 94 million with the Addis metro area holding about 4.5 million
    • most populous landlocked country in the world
  • Addis Ababa is 2400 – 3000 meters above sea level
    • 2nd highest city in the world after Asmara, Eritrea
    • some say is about the
  • languages = Amharic (spoken by about 30% of the population) is the official language while Oromo is spoken by more people (33%)
    • next most spoken are Somali and Tigrinya
    • over 80 total languages with almost 200 dialects
    • language groups = Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic and Nilo-Saharan
  • religion :
    • Ethiopian Orthodox = 44%; Islam = 40%; Protestantism = 18.6%
    • Ethiopia was one of the first Christian countries in the world when Aksum Kingdom (modern day Ethiopia and Eritrea) made it the state religion in the 4th Century
    • traditional religions are practiced by almost 3% of population mostly in the south

Now that the formalities of context are out of the way, you may be wondering how all of this connects to boobs in the title. Well….

A few weeks upon arriving in Ethiopia my skin was Guh-LOWING! You hear me?! Every comment/compliment on my snapchat was about how good my skin looked. Having been deliberate about the skin care and makeup I brought on the trip paired with eating so much healthier food, drinking a lot of water to counter the challenging altitude, the different air and the African sun – I was like of course I’m glowing. Why/how would I not be?! Work was stressful, but the newness of a completely different environment was renewing my soul.

Although I love injera and the several types of shiros and wots, it was quite different that everything everywhere all day was that. Some food and smells were new to me so it made sense that my olfactory senses were sharp as a hound dog.

I was ALWAYS tired you hear me?! It didn’t make sense at ALL except that is a side effect of being in much higher altitudes (check 2nd tidbit above) I equated it to altitude sickness. In my efforts to stay fit I would try to go running on some mornings and found myself short of breath very easily. I made it through workshops and trainings by the spiritual Redbull grace of God because I would struggle to actively stay alert. It didn’t help that now coordinating daily chats with boo as well as check ins and teleconferencing with home office on a 7 hour time difference meant very little sleep after the Ethiopian work day was over.

Also, I was very VERY irritable. Unreasonably so. It mostly happened internally, but many mundane things irritated me. Actually, they were quite legit – at the time. And in hindsight. Why would I find the cleaning lady or housekeeping’s hair on the table or countertop after she cleaned. WHHYYYYY? In. The. World. did I find hair in my food at different places in my time in Ethiopia than anyone should ever have to throughout a lifetime?! It put me off eating completely because I was almost guaranteed to find a hair so I ate looking for it and the times I let my guard down I would feel what had become the familiar horror on my tongue. Seriously, one day I had completely given up on food and decided to get a smoothie. Ordered a simple mango something something at this clean looking establishment where it took entirely too long to make, but ok they are cutting fruit from scratch ergo freshness right?! NO! It tasted good, and about halfway through I felt something thickish, long and stringy so I thought oh this must have been a stringy mango. NO. It was a long (4 inches or so) string of hair all up in my mouth. As I pulled it out of my mouth I wanted to FIGHT E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Why had God forsaken me?! I thought I had already reached the pinnacle of quitting finding hair on my food only to look up and have ways to go. I’d thought my previous level of Quit was it, but I completely QUIIIIITTT!! I never thought it was possible. I never hespererit. We thank God for his mercy that endureth forever because…

Off the segway and back on the main road. So glowy skin, heightened smell, increased irritability, indefatigable fatigue, and now we get to the last thing. Connecting all of this to the title of this post – les boobs. They were big. Ok bigger than what I left the US with. There was a noticeable more-than-snug to how they wore. I adjusted to the outermost clasps and extended the straps down a little bit so the brassiere wouldn’t dig into my shoulders. What was gentle regular cleavage was now a little more jiggle and bubble than I considered classically classy. The middle button on my very nice dress shirts would sometimes come undone. Hhhmmm. Was I eating too much?! *hint hint*

Cut a long story short, I found out I was pregnant when I was in Ethiopia. While I was out there solo, so far from home, with no friends or family around. I was all I had to support and get through the news and associated next steps. We had been talking/joking about it on the phone and almost a month into my being there boo and I got really real with the reality that something outside of altitude sickness and Africa being great for my soul was going on.

Cut a long story short again, at the point I found out I had been a month in the country with a month more to go. Six weeks pregnant and keeping it between the two of us …. and my Ethiopian colleague whose wife was currently pregnant who I asked about a good doctor or hospital to go to after I confirmed by peeing twice on Chinese labeled pregnancy tests I got from the pharmacy down the street that I was IN DEED with child.

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I successfully wrapped up my assignment in Ethiopia fully satisfied with everything I had been able to accomplish professionally, but/and ready to go back home. Reunited with boo and now figuring things meant coming to real terms together vs. whatsapp calling and face timing over wifi.

On my social media, I still interacted and posted with the same almost regularity as before and there wasn’t/isn’t anything in particularly that would make anyone see a picture I posted and say I’m pregnant. Except that ONE TIME we were going to the beach and I was on snapchat snapping from my chest upwards. I was wearing a haltered bikini top and a friend commented “BOOBS”. It was the only moment I thought – can people tell?! Within that week about 2 other close girlfriends casually commented something about my boobs and I casually lol’d it off with a “thaaaaanks girl”. At this point I thought about starting a joke about myself. That I had actually gotten a boob job in Ethiopia because it turned out to be much cheaper than in the US, but that I hadn’t revealed it yet because they hadn’t quite finished healing.

No I did not get a boob job in Ethiopia guys! My body was and is still preparing itself to feed a brand new human addition to our race and my family (yikes my very own one!) who will come out of this very body. One who currently has developed all her bones and insists on turning all the way up in my belly. Who has my heart melting at a black and white sonogram. Initially my breasts were the first protrusion to signal something big was happening…that is until the last few months that my belly now outprotrudes them by a couple more inches.

I am pregnant and 7 and a half months in, I’m closer to being a mother than I have every been in my life. A whole me. Woman. Mother. to a Daughter. Her early stages of development happened in Ethiopia and like the feelings I had prior to going there, I don’t know everything about what’s to come, but I’m over the fears and more excited about the newness of the experience, our child, our love, a NEW love come what may.

While I’m expecting, expect to read more posts about my bun in the oven
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*@afropolitaine*

“When is 4th of July in Africa”? ::: #graphAfrica

The title of this post is a real question that has been asked in real life. Real talk. Really. The easy answer, or in someone’s dry sense of humor, is that 4th of July in Africa falls on 4th of July as it does in any other continent/country. The people who ask this kind of question are the same as the ones who ask if you speak African and don’t know Africa is a continent with more countries than America has states. That’s ok though because I learnt a long time ago if I wanted to live long on this earth with low blood pressure levels that those people couldn’t anger me. They exist and most times the reason they ask questions like that isn’t their own fault. I don’t blame them. There are systems and institutions that come together to shape what information we not only have access to, but we end up giving a damn about. These shapers go back generations and are really hard to undo and unlearn.

 

 

 

So I was asking myself if there is in fact a holiday that is celebrated continent wide in Africa and the closest is Africa Day on May 25. It marks the founding of the Organization of African Unity in 1963 when 30 Independent African nations signed on in Addis Ababa. So yes it is a continent wide holiday, but it’s only observed by about 5 countries – Zimbabwe is one of them. Growing up in Zimbabwe I don’t remember ever celebrating it though.  Even though we are a relatively young “country” – independence was gained in 1980, Mugabe is the kind of African visionary who would ensure its observance.

 

In short we do not have a 4th of July, we have May 25! HOWEVER, given the non-unity within and across borders, perhaps the OAU has a long way to go. What with new countries forming, old ones falling apart and others just lingering in non-progressive obscurity.

 

Not yet UHURU!

 

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*@afropolitaine*

#graphAfrica

Read This and READ!

afropolitaine reads

Since I just came back from Zimbabwe and am kind of back to regular scheduled programming there doesn’t seem to be much travel in my forecast right now (although you are all welcome to surprise me with a trip to somewhere sunny where all the food is cooked or drizzled with olive oil and the language is slightly foreign to me). Soooo what’s a girl to do?! Read books/material from around the world. After all, The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” I’ve traveled quite a bit in my lifetime and lately, but I haven’t really been reading. These were all chosen because of a longing to be somewhere else and experience someone else’s life or to reconnect with a past I’ve lived or a future I want.

1. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

afropolitaine Americanah

I pretty much love everything Chimamanda! I have every single one of a her books and That Thing Around Your Neckwas even autographed when I went to her reading at the Shakespeare Theater in DC a few years back. I haven’t been able to put this book down so I highly recommend it to EVERYone. It’s like an amazing conversation and I find myself wanting to highlight, reread, type out, print and frame some of the sentences. If you’ve ever had one in real life, this book is made up of gems someone extremely intelligent and unaware of it says in casual conversations and you’re left in silent awe. I personally love people who are amazing and all kinds of fantastic, but don’t know it so this book does it for me. At so many points i’m reading and thinking WHO THE HELL ARE YOU CHIMAMANDA?! WHY ARE YOU IN MY LIFE and WHY IS IFEMELU ME?! I KNOW OBINZE! I KNOW THAT GIRRRRL/GUY! STOP TRYING TO MAKE ME CRY. WHAT IF I HAD DONE THAT TOO…I am all up in this book as you can tell 🙂

2. ZOMA – Addis Ababa’s best monthly lifestyle magazine

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My mom who knows my taste in reading and many other things very well so she brought me this magazine when she came to the states a few weeks back after attending the AU’s 50th Anniversary in Addis Ababa. She knows I love to read and write in different voices so great choice here. Haven’t gotten to it yet, but definitely curious to examine the quality and standards of editing, content, etc. Excited to add this to my collection of magazines either from my own travels or my moms and they are all always great quick reads. Will let you guys know how it goes.

3. We Need New Names – NoViolet Bulawayo

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For all the popularity NoViolet has gained in the last few years, I still have not read any of her books so the other day as I was waiting for my salad to be ready at a little cafe, I decided to browse the outside sale table at the bookstore (Bridge Street Books) next door. I chose the book below and when I went inside to checkout We Need New Names was right in front of the register staring at me. I’ve read excerpts and reviews already (I wish I hadn’t) and look forward to the beginning of a great relationship with this writer. She is a fellow Zimbabwean after all 🙂

4. Madeline in London – Ludwig Bemelmans

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You guys promise not to laugh? I hope you understand when I tell you why I bought this book. My childhood years were spent in Zimbabwe and one of my favorite cartoons was Madeline – a little Parisian girl who went to a boarding school run by nuns and the [mis]adventures that happened to her because she was so small and outspoken. I internalized Madeline in so many ways and seeing this book on the sale table at Bright Street Books brought so many good emotions and heavy nostalgia flooding back. I BOUGHT THIS BOOK FOR  MY DAUGHTER. No I do not have one yet, but I do think about parts of my life i’d love to share and continue with my future children [along with things i’d like to be different] every once in a while. I want to share Madeline in all her awesomeness with my daughter one day. Of course I will read this myself, but ultimately I want to keep it for her. She will see the world through travel as well as books and no matter how small she is, inside she’ll be tall (theme song reference).

Hopefully I’ll add more to this list and you’ll be inspired to pick these or other books up yourself. I’m thinking I might even review these post reading 🙂
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*@afropolitaine*

afrofoto day 4

Today was a great day! I got up early and therefore got to work a little less later than my regular uber lateness AND i had packed my lunch for work. But guess what, the meeting we had today had lunch provided for it!!! Whoever said something about no free lunches in this world….lol. (My mother said that <3)

I also was very productive as overwhelmed as I felt and managed to get away to the gym both on some of the gadget/machines and a run outside.

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The African thing I had on today was an  Ethiopian scarf my mother got from Addis for me and I love the lightweight of the cotton so it works great in the summer and does provide just enough protection from the cold cuz today i swear it was fuh-reezing in the office so it was just as well. I love how bright the orange and gold border looks because the raw silk  makes it look shiny and therefore brighter.

I felt schmexy 🙂