A letter from Kristi Davis (Ethiopia 1969–72)

Kristi Davis was a TESL teacher in Debra Tabor, Ethiopia from 1969–70, and then a game warden at Lakes Shalla and  Abiata from 1970 to 1972. Here is a letter she wrote to her parents from Debra Tabor  Oct. 10, 1969 shortly after she arrived.

davis-kristiIt’s more amazing here every day . . . the atmosphere, that is. I look out the window while I’m steaming plum pudding and see men riding by with capes flying back and scarves tied in back that look like white wigs, and I think I’m living in an early American time . . . or I can walk into the living room and it will be the old West with a large fireplace, skin rug, and kerosene lamp . . . or I can pull seeds out of cotton and become a pilgrim beginning to spin, or 1600 Salem and the witch scare when the wizard next door starts to sing . . . sometimes sounds like a Navajo Squaw Dance. Other times, you look out and see Zuni, or Santa Fe with the adobe and chili . . . or else I can turn on the radio to Voice of America and hear the Beatles latest album and the moon countdown . . . or I can see a bare-breasted woman carrying a 15–20 gallon jug of water on her back from the well, and imagine it is biblical times, or grinding corn like the old pueblo Indians, or bargaining in the market like Italy, or men with guns and turbans like Saudi Arabia, etc. you never get bored with the scenery or the atmosphere.

I’m making cushions for the rope furniture and Charlie is plastering the fireplace. Today I fired my pottery that I bought at the market and made it black with linseeds and soot, so it will hold water. Night before last, some young Ethiopian teachers came to dinner, so I roasted a leg of lamb, since that’s almost all you can buy. I thought it would be tough, but it’s not. It was good, because I have mint growing here. (How do you get fly eggs off the meat?) I don’t like to think I’m eating maggots.

Love, Kristi

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  • How evocative! It made me remember how I felt, sometime, in my site. We had dirt roads and hitching post fences to tie horses up. At times, I felt like I was in a Western movie playing Dale Evens to someone else’s Roy Rogers!

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