Friday, November 22, 2013

I Hate Losing More Than I Like Winning

Hello friends and family! It is hard to believe that I have lived in Addis for about 7 months now! My how time flies! I came to the realization that I will be leaving in less than half a year and I have all of these mixed emotions.  I am genuinely sad to leave. I feel like there is still so much that I could learn from this place. Not to mention that I will be moving my children before the end of the school year….AGAIN!

I decided that I needed to try to be excited to go back to the States. How? Those of you who know me personally are aware of my exercise, fitness, and health obsession. For those of you who don’t know me personally, lets just say that the Hubs fondly refers to me as “The Food Natzi” on a regular basis. Since moving to Addis I’ve only been able to work out at home and sporadically at that. When I don’t exercise I become this grumpy, mean person! So, I decided that I would use my love of fitness to help me to get excited about going back to California. I have decided to run the Big Sur Half Marathon! I couldn’t register a year in advance however, so I decided that putting this news out on the World Wide Web was the was the next best thing. Now I have to run the race! I’ve told EVERYONE!

I have several reasons for choosing this particular event.
1)   I have PLENTY of training time!
2)   The race will be held in the town where I will be living
3)   I’ve always wanted to run a half marathon, I’ve just been too scared.
4)   I live in freaking Addis Ababa!!! 8,000ft elevation baby!

I believe that running in the Big Sur half-marathon kind of ties these two parts of my life together! I can be excited about going back to Cali but I’m using one of the many wonderful aspects of life in Addis to help me to be successful. It may seem superficial and a little lame to some but for me it’s a way to help me get through this emotionally tough transitional time here in Addis.

I am beginning by training for a 10k.  Like I said earlier I have only been working out on and off so, I am starting from the bottom. I came up with a training schedule and so far I’ve stuck to it. It has only been about 10 days and we will see how my determination holds up in a few weeks.

So, now you are wondering where the heck do I train? You have all heard me complain about the roads here so, running in the city is not something that I want to subject myself to on a regular basis. I see people training in the city so I know that it can be done but I have nearly killed runners on more than one occasion and I've seen my friends battle scars from falls that they've taken while running in Addis. I have decided that the bulk of my training will have to be done on a track. Lame, boring but necessary!

One of the best tracks in all of eastern Africa is located at the International Community School of Addis Ababa. Lucky for me, my children attend this school. That gives me access to the track! SCORE! (I seriously have to write a post about this school at some point).  

I began my training last week at the ICS track. My goal was to run 2.5 miles. Brenden was recently in a play and had dress rehearsal that night. My plan was, I would run and he would rehearse.  When I showed up at the track I stretched a little, warmed up and started jogging. As I was making my way around the track I saw that someone else was also running. It was dark outside so I hadn’t noticed him at first. This is where my competitive side rears its ugly head. I knew that I wasn’t in good enough shape to lap him but maybe I could keep pace with him. He was on the exact other side of the track from me and that is where I wanted to keep him. I picked up the pace, frequently looking to make sure he wasn’t catching up with me. 

The first 5 laps or so weren’t so bad. I was able to keep him where he needed to be, directly opposite of myself. The next five laps were a challenge. I was huffing and puffing! My lungs were on FIRE! I haven’t trained at elevation in about 7 years, not since we lived in Colorado! By lap ten I had to admit defeat and I decided that it was ok to walk just one lap. I slowed down and grabbed my water bottle. As I walked the man caught up to me and lapped me. As he ran past I realized that not only had I LOST (yes in my head we were racing), I had lost to a man that is probably 30 years older than myself!!!!!!!!!!!! Well any thoughts of walking a second lap vanished as the older man ran past with as much effort as peaceful stroll in the park!  Motivation renewed I ran and continued to run until he left, then I ran one more lap after he was gone to make up for the one that I had walked. I had long ago lost track of the number of laps that I was supposed to be doing to reach my 2.5 miles. I had my mind set on not being beaten…again! 

I know, I have issues! The good news is that I have managed to stick to my training schedule and I’m hoping that I can continue to stick to it! For about 4 days after the first run I was sore. My stomach was sore. My legs were sore. Even my back was sore. My sick and twisted brain loved it! I’m having a lot of fun training for this event. I’m having fun racing people who don’t know that they are racing me. I’m getting excited to run at sea level in California and who knows, I might actually do well!  Wish me luck! Until next time Friends and Family!

Survival Tips for Training at 8,000ft Elevation

1.    Drink TONS of water. I have had to increase my water intake to about 1 gallon a day!
2.    Actually rest on your rest days!
3.    Start slow, I need to take my own advice.
4.    Eat enough healthy food!
5.    Sleep!
6.    Don’t get discouraged, eventually your body will adjust!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Silk Trade

This week I had the opportunity to visit Sabahar. Sabahar is a company that produces hand woven cotton and silk products here in Addis Ababa. That's right folks I said SILK! I had no idea that anyone was making silk in Ethiopia. If you were unaware of this as well don't feel bad, silk production was only introduced to Ethiopia about 15 years ago. That isn't to say that Ethiopians are unfamiliar with silk, apparently the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has imported silk from Asia for close to a thousand years. They would import silk products and then unravel them and reweave them to make robes and other ceremonial clothing for priests. Pretty cool!  

Ethiopian hospitality

The owner of Sabahar Kathy Marshal
The beautiful grounds at Sabahar

The silk that is used to make the beautiful textiles at Sabahar are made using Eri silk which is considered a "Wild Silk". The more commonly known Mulberry silks (the silk most widely used in Asia) is more difficult for the women here to weave. The Eri silk has a consistency that is close to cotton which most rural Ethiopian women already know how to spin, it's not too much of step to learn to spin silk if you can spin cotton, or so I'm told. Check out Sabahar's website, they explain it all much better than I am! Sabahar

Eri Silk cocoons that are spun into usable silk

Eri Silk Worms


Pretty big!

This is what they look like before they become butterflies

The Butterfly! 
The butterflies lay the eggs!

Spinning cotton
After they collect the silk they have to spin it into thread. Ethiopia has a long history of weaving beautiful cotton products, at Sabahar they weave both silks and cotton, sometimes together to make BEAUTIFUL scarves, shawls, bedspreads etc.

Spinning Silk

Sabahar also imports fancier silks from India to weave beautiful scarves that are sold in places like Italy.

Sabahar imports scraps of old Sari's from india and weaves them into beautiful scarves.

After spinning the cotton and silks they dye the thread. They use natural dyes like onion peels! The onion peels turns the silk green! Who knew!?

Crushed lady bugs

The purples and reds are accomplished by using a pesky lady bug that kills the cactus in the Tigre region. 

Marigolds and other flowers are used to make yellows and orange.

After dying the thread they weave it all by hand on HUGE looms! It is amazing to watch them work. 

After the scarves are woven they are cleaned up and put out for sale or exported. 

And there you have it friends and family, beautiful silk and cotton textiles all hand made and fair trade approved! Of course I bought way too much and I can't wait to head back and get more!!!
Until next time friends and family!

Survival Guide for Buying Silk

  1. Bring enough money! That is all!