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Party with Pitbull (Chinese Version)

Meet Pitbull a.k.a Chinese Pitbull. How did we happen to meet him? Well, a couple of us just decided to check out a local bar/lounge, chill, and we just happened to discover some excellent nightclubs along the way! No cover charge of any sort, and so we ended up going on a nightclub crawl. My favorite: Club MUSE – I was blown away by their music! They had some really cool electro/techno tracks playing and then all of a sudden, Chinese Pitbull got the crowd going with his electrifying performance! All in all, we discovered that the Jiefangbei area (a major commercial area in Chongqing) has a vibrant nightlife scene.

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JP with Pitbull…

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Me with Pitbull…

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The electrifying performance…

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More performances…

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More poses…

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One of the clubs during the crawl – Club One

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Nightlife at Jiefangbei

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This was the lounge we initially headed out to. Had a nice time with the team, with some excellent service and drinks. In the picture you can see our friendly waiter who also introduced us to a couple of American and French tourists who happened to be his good friends. And before you know it, while conversing with the tourist from America, we found out that she is from Cleveland, OH! Small world – we travel all the way to the other side of the hemisphere and meet someone who hails from a city just a few miles away from ours 🙂

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We noticed that this hairstyle was very popular among the young Chinese men who were all decked up to go clubbing around the Jiefangbei area. There were some really fashionable young men and women!

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JP looking outside the window and greeting NiHao to every passerby (mostly women)

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Oh and speaking of women, I am pleased to announce that a local person has given Jeff Skiles the title of the ‘Expert on Asian Women’ after being completely shocked by how much he knew about whether women in Asia drink or not.

More later on our experiences with the business culture in China and and the Sichuanese cuisine.

Travel around, know the world, surprise yourself 🙂

Take care.

Everybody’s Working for the Weekend – Or Just Those in the UAE – Day 10

In the words of Gregg Silver:

Today was not our most exciting day in the UAE. As our work week started, we faced the reality (after an incredible weekend) that we needed to get a ton of work done on our presentation. This was made more challenging and more fun at the same time given that our work day began and many of our friends in Europe and the US were posting and messaging us about their raging Saturday nights. 8:30am here is 12:30am back in Ohio, and 5:30 or 6:30am across Europe… wait, some of the European teams were out that late?? Regardless, the plan for tomorrow is to meet with the company’s CEO and CFO to share our ideas. While we had been working diligently last week, the Powerpoint deck had not been flushed out. So, today was spent hammering out the granular details of the slides, revising, discussing, revising again, and discussing even more.

For all those thinking that these trips are all fun and no work, this is definitely not the case, and today was proof. We worked from 8:30am until 7pm, and then worked again later tonight – all of this from the confines of our condo and the Caribou on the first floor of our building. Tomorrow will be the first day we actually go to the office and we are pretty excited about it – cabin fever during the work day set in days ago.

As we had some serious discussions, one thing lightened the mood again and again. We found pictures of Travis going down Poseidon’s Revenge at Atlantis yesterday (for those just tuning in, it is the craziest water slide in the world – you enter the ride standing up, the floor drops from under your feet and it’s virtually a straight vertical drop). There was something unusual about these pictures though. While all of us smiled in our pictures right before the floor opened, the next shot was always our faces in a panic as we dropped. With Travis, this was not the case. See for yourself, absolutely hilarious – or maybe it’s the cabin fever again, you tell me. The picture made all of us wonder if he has a pulse? No fear. Travis has been our wildcard throughout the trip. He may be a man of few words, but when the opportunity strikes, he’s down for the challenge: eating lamb brain, hot dog and french fry pizza, buying native attire to wear around town, or flying a quadricopter down the beach (possibly running surveillance operations – but we aren’t sure), you just never know with him. I’m starting to think he is Chuck Norris’ lost son. Either way, he has helped all of us feel more engaged in the culture.

 

ImagePic 1 – before the floor opened, Pic 2 – already has fallen 2 ft., Pic 3 – captured from a different time down the slide, almost out of view, dropped about 4 ft. – – Still no change in facial expression the whole time.

 

 

ImageMunching on brain

 

 

ImageSand boarding in his new gear.

 

 

ImageEnjoying hot dog and french fries pizza.

 

 

ImageTravis with his quadricopter on the beach. Trying to do some recon work. It was pretty cool.

Anyway, we hope to have more exciting stories to share about our venture into the UAE business world tomorrow and the after work excursions we plan to have.

 

Addendum:

Since writing this post, Travis continued to surprise the team. Today, before posting this entry, Travis performed a concert for our entire team, exhibiting his talents. Again, this may be shocking for many of those that (think they) know him, but legitimately, the guy is ridiculous. He doesn’t just sing and play guitar, but he’s good. Some of our team members were hoping for a late night serenade in bed as a result, no joke. As it is, the team has told Travis that if we need a couple minute break from the project, he will need to break out the guitar and play a little diddy.

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Catching Our Fifth Wind at the Five AM Fish Market (Hamburg Day Two Part Two)

Last time on Team DHL Germany’s Fisher GAP Blog: Devin recounted our day on the high sea, which featured brews on battleships, rifle competitions for roses, and Natalie befriending a beaming young gentleman. What Devin failed to tell you was that the night did not end there for four brave souls. As Tim and Devin parted ways from the rest of their motley crew, the night had just begun. A clearly defined BHAG was set: stay up all night to make it to the 5 AM Fish Market across town. The following has not been embellished because it needs no embellishment.

Sunday, May 11th 12:00 AM – With the port festival carnival drawing to a close, Brian, Natalie, Sruti, and yours truly ventured towards “Planet Bollywood”, a hastily thrown together can-knock-down game which had mild undertones of racism in its design and décor. Sruti, determined to defend her proud Indian heritage, took three attempts at knocking down the foreboding pyramid of metallic cylinders that stood before her. With speed and accuracy that would make this man blush, each throw narrowly missed its target, if the definition of “narrow” were to be redefined as 4-5 feet. Her consolation prize? A Winnie-the-Pooh flash card game, which would be an important centerpiece to the night’s activities.

Rathaus Cultural Pic!

12:30 AM – We arrive at the first bar for the evening. The place is packed for the Eurovision Finals, an international signing competition that rivals the Superbowl for viewership. With little context as to what’s happening (other than the fact that a bearded person in a dress is winning), our group decides to bust out the Winnie-the-Pooh flash cards. With a dash of creativity and a dose of improtu rule making, we create the hottest card game to hit American youths since Magic the Gathering. Business plan frameworks and licensing agreements are discussed. Inspired by our own ingenuity, the group sets off to celebrate. The bearded person wins Eurovision. S/he cries. A lot.

Can't See Me at My Winnie-the-Pooh-No Game
Can’t See Me at My Winnie-the-Pooh-No Game

1:00 AM – We find ourselves in Repperbahn once again. A Eurovision viewing party is just getting out and the place is packed shoulder to shoulder. After shuffling from bar to bar looking for a place to drink, we find ourselves in a basement akin to one the Beatles rocked out 50 years ago. The playlist features nothing but 80s tunes for the entire evening. Luckily, we brought our dancing shoes.

80s Dance Party

1:30 AM – Sruti is barefoot in the bar. Nothing more can really be said about that. She begins to fade. Laughter inspires a second wind.

2:00 AM – A bartender, awestruck by our dance moves, awards us with free beverages. Any thought of fading is instantly cast aside. Third wind level. Also, Sruti might still be barefoot.

Free Drinks!

2:30 AM – “You Can Call Me Al” sends Natalie and I to the next level. We set the Guinness record for most SnapChats taken over a two and a half minute period. Legs are starting to genuinely get sore from dancing.

3:00 AM – This is actually happening. We’re going to make it to the herald 5AM fish market. Can’t stop won’t stop.

Game Face On
Game Face On

3:30 AM – Starting to fade, I pull up directions for the fish market on my phone. Or so I thought. Failed to #gobeyond and make sure it was the right fish market. This was a mistake.

4:00 AM – Take a pic to chronicle the fact that we made it to 4:00. Leave for a train for “Fishmarkt”, a fish restaurant in the opposite direction of our desired destination.

4:00 AM Club
4:00 AM Club

4:30 AM – We get increasingly worried about whether this 5AM fish market actually exists, as we’re mere blocks away and there is little fanfare.

4:31 AM – Realize it’s the wrong fish market. Step in dog poo. Yup, that’s about right.

4:32 AM – Find the real fish market on my phone. It’s in the opposite direction. As we make our way back to the train station by the port festival for the 5th time that day, we’re starting to lose energy and fast. Someone asks me for directions in German and I give a flawless response. Carry that energy into the train station. Perfect the Bernie dance move. Fourth wind achieved.

Dance Party

5:00 AM – Once again, we find ourselves back at the Repperbahn. I become convinced it’s the gravitational nexus of memory making. We see the crowds descend down the road towards the market.

5:15 AM – Just 15 minutes past our anticipated arrival time, we see all the glory in front of us. It’s real and it’s spectacular (two Seinfeld references in one post – epic).

Cue Angels Singing
Cue Angels Singing

After reading through this lengthy prose on our adventures at finding the 5AM fish market of Hamburg, you’re probably asking yourself “why did you stay up until 5AM to visit the 5AM fish market of Hamburg and why should I care”?

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How about gigantic bags of fruit for 10 euro? Fresh fish sandwiches featuring delicious sea creatures caught just hours earlier? Infinity scarves for your girlfriend for 7 Euro? The fact that it’s only open for four hours A WEEK? Oh, and did I mention, THERE’S A LIVE BAND!

Seriously, a band gets up (or probably just stays up from the last gig) at 4AM to play 1973’s Top 40 hits for a bunch of young people wrapping up their night with shrimp sandwiches, fresh fruit, and delicious pastries.

Our Glorious(o) Reward
Our Glorious(o) Reward

If we were to rate our experience in MBA terms (and we are, because we’re doing it right now), our reward of fresh seafood sandwiches and fruit baskets aligned with our empowering decision rights to pull a non-academic related all-nighter, resulting in a high rating of our performance management. We hit all three aspects of the management decision tools triangle. What did you do at 5:00 in the morning?

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6:15 AM – Eternity – Sleep.

Monday Blue

Monday is always blue…especially after Goa trip. However, today is a productive day. After the discussions with Wonderkids team, we had a deeper understanding of the situation. Therefore, we tried to generate the marketing strategy for Wonderkids. Thanks for Professor Jay Dial. We used five forces and VRIO to evaluate Wonderkids and competitors’ situations. We did apply the knowledge learned in school to real case.

 

Strategy Discussion

 

Day 8: Just Another Singapore Sunday

Our first full day in Singapore began with a relaxing dip in our hotel’s pool on the fifth floor overlooking the surrounding neighborhood. Our resident mer-man, Dan Reeder did his best Michael Phelps impression, gracefully swimming laps while we watched in silent awe.

Behold, Singapore’s first glass-walled, cantilevered pool

After a tasty lunch at a local pub in the Robertson Quay district we traveled to another part of town to meet a friend of mine, Atem Ramsundersingh, who is the CEO and co-founder of WEnergy Global, a renewable energy start-up based here in Singapore. He describes his firm as an ‘energy house,’ providing sustainable and cost-effective renewable energy solutions to industrial clients, governments, small towns and communities located throughout Southeast Asia. Currently, they are working to close a deal on the construction of a 2.3 MW hybrid solar-diesel plant with a 15 km of micro-grid in Puerto Princesa, on Palawan Island in the Philippines.

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Concept rendering of the Puerto Princesa project

Atem has extensive international experience, having worked for many years at the World Bank, and offered some valuable insights about the business climate of Southeast Asia. He left the bank for the private sector in 2009 to escape the bureaucracy and to work for a cause that he was passionate about. While he acknowledges that this has been a challenging path, he firmly believes in the bright future of sustainable energy in the region and has positioned his firm to capitalize on this growth.

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A stroll through Robertson Quay

We wrapped up our day by watching the sunset from atop the famous Marina Bay Sands, an iconic hotel overlooking Singapore’s beautiful skyline. We snagged a table at Ku De Ta nightclub on the 57th floor where we sipped on (very expensive) drinks and took in some breathtaking views of the area.

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Team WD Malaysia on top of the Sand
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Cloud Forest and the Gardens by the Bay

 

 

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Downtown Singapore at day…

Dan puffed on a cigar from a certain communist island nation while Melissa repeatedly claimed that the Beckham family was staying at the hotel. Unfortunately, to her dismay, there were no sightings of Mr. or Mrs. Posh Spice.

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…and downtown Singapore at night
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Infinity pool overlooking the bay
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**No we didn’t lose Henry, he’s behind the camera
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The Marina Bay Sands from the boat home

Our night concluded as we traveled back to our hotel via a boat tour up the Singapore River, learning a bit about the nation’s history along the way. Singapore is a bustling, beautiful, and idyllic city unlike anywhere else in the world. We are looking forward to experiencing more over the next few days…while continuing to carefully avoid jaywalking, littering, chewing gum, spitting, transporting durian fruit, cutting in line, not washing your hands, burping too loudly, horseplay, or any other behavior that might land you a prolonged, involuntary stay!

Broodings on Britannia

This weekend, Team France had the opportunity to travel to Great Britain to interface with the British unit of our client company.  After our work was completed on Friday, we spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the sounds and sights of London.

Whenever I travel to a new location, there is a tendency to slip into tourist-type attractions.  However, I find myself wanting to resist these places.  While popular for one reason or another, I feel that only seeing these sites does not enable me to gain an authentic experience of the city.  I don’t feel that I am integrating into the culture; I am only an observer of the culture.

In one sense then, London, a city filled with tourist attractions, is a city putting on a performance.  A performance of characters, scenes, acts, etc. that are designed to appeal to the masses and draw them.  (I am not giving a value judgment of this fact; I am merely just starting an observation).  To some extent, I hope that my London travels were able to get a little beyond this performance, “break the fourth wall,” and find authentic English culture.

This begs the question of authenticity.  What is truly authentic? Is the performance, the façade, the inauthentic side?  I would postulate that it might not be.  Initially, the performance may not be an authentic expression.  It takes work to put on a costume, to memorize your lines, etc.  These behaviors are not natural expressions of yourself.  However, if these behaviors are repeated enough to the point of habituation, then it is entirely plausible that the performance becomes the authentic reality of the innate personality and character of a person.

Referring back to London (or any one city with tourist attractions), perhaps the city’s authentic nature can and does include all the tourist attractions that I naturally resist.

However, this question of authenticity is not restricted to international cities.  Rather this question really cuts at the core of human behavior.   There are many situations in which we as humans are putting on a performance in order to appeal to many people.  In our attempts to receive acceptance and approbation, we modify our attitudes, values, and behaviors.  A great example of this would be socialization.  As a young child, we learn different social behaviors that are expected and accepted in our culture.

Another area that we put on performances is the MBA program.  In one sense, we are trying to learn knowledge and techniques in order for us to be successful (attractive) to companies.  The amount of practice that we put into interviews (which are truly performances) exemplifies this concept.

While initially we may have to put on the performance, I believe that the goal of the MBA program is that certain techniques, skills, and behaviors will be so inculcated into our psyches that eventually, they become who we are authentically are.  And this performance-based learning style is not a bad thing.   Our faculty and staff have experienced the world and know what will make us the most successful (i.e. what performance will create the best mass appeal).

As a parting thought, it is important every once in a while to have some introspection.  International travel is a fantastic opportunity since it pushes us into unfamiliar areas that test and push us.  So, I invite everyone on the GAP program and all the other readers to think about authenticity and the performances that we put on.  And finally, make sure that the performances you put on are the ones that you eventually want to become the authentic you.

– Oracle Andy

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts,”

– William Shakespeare

London Calling

VENI. VIDI. VICI. We came. We saw. We conquered!

Like Vladimir Putin standing shirtless atop a BM Oplot tank as it rolls its way through Crimea, Team France has officially unofficially invaded and subsequently annexed southern England as part of their rapidly expanding GAP empire.

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From Parliament to Buckingham Palace, to the Tower of London to Picadilly Circus, no British landmark was left unclaimed – a sight that would surely move both Napoleon and President Alutto to each shed a single, glistening crimson and grey French tear.

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Despite potentially reigniting centuries of Anglo/Franco conflict that had previously lain dormant for decades, they celebrated their conquests in the most fittingly French way possible: taking in a showing of Les Miserables with a glass of Bordeaux.

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A salute to our London GAP compatriots, whom we shared a fantastic evening with along the Thames – we had a wonderful time with you, and regret being forced to make you the latest victims of the GAP Hunger Games!

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– Commandant Dickson

 

Hamburg Day Two: Das Boot

After experiencing Hamburg’s nightlife (the Reeperbahn is out of control) it took us a while to get out of bed. By early afternoon we were able to recover enough to head down to Hamburg’s 825th anniversary port festival. Basically, it is a carnival that stretches along the harbor (hello fried foods and carnival games) with tours of battleships and a 4-floor disco ship called the San Disco!

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We toured a German frigate, the FMS Hamburg. It’s not everyday you get to drink beers on the deck of a German battleship and take an obligatory O-H-I-O picture:

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We also toured the HMS Lancaster where they had a mounted machine gun you could stand at. While I think Sruti may be moonlighting as a sniper, it’s clear Natalie doesn’t have much training in this area:

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We came back later in the evening for round two. Mark and Tim enjoyed some carnival games (naturals!)

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A little drinking ensued:

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…and Natalie found her future husband (Note: That is NOT Natalie’s thong):

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It may have been a cold and rainy day in Hamburg, but that didn’t deter us!

Elephants and more

Elephants

On Saturday we rode elephants!!! Alina and Ashley were washed by an elephant! I think they thought they were going to be ones doing the washing, but boy did they get surprised. We ended by giving the elephants a snack immediately prior to pictures of O-H-I-O elephant style!

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Spice plantation

After riding elephants we headed for a very interesting tour of the spice plantation where we leaned how spices are harvested, which are the most expensive on the market and that Coca-Cola buys 30% of the world production of vanilla. Who new there is something non-chemical in there?  We chew cloves, bought Indian hand made cigarettes (bidi), drank lemongrass tea and a couple of shots of caju moonshine (feni). We also took pictures of the monkey man picking up fruit off tall palm trees.

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Waterfall

With 3 hours in the SUV and 2 hours in the Jeep going and back, we finally arrived at the water fall. The beautiful scene made everyone forget the tiredness. Everyone was looking forward to jump into the water.  While we swam, Ean put his feet in the water and said he felt something moving under his feet. After everyone got back to the land, Bliss saw a snake in the water near us. “Time to go”,  Ean  said withdrawing  his feet in a beat from the water and we all fled the site. On our way back we had the pleasure of encountering a family of monkeys.

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Radio producers and Jewish blacksmiths

Thursday our group split up to divide and conquer our list of target people to interview, in the interest of time, since Friday was our last work day in Gondar. We have three functional sub-groups: marketing, supply chain/ops, and data collection/reporting. As part of the marketing sub-group, I really wanted to meet with local radio producers while in Gondar. I read this great book called “Influencers” that talks about how people can create change and influence people in many different ways. The book mentions several social and health campaigns in the developing world that use radio dramas and popular soap operas to get their ideas across. For example, they would have characters go to the library to get adult literacy materials, or have a “bad” character drink too much and abuse his wife (a “good” character who viewers empathized with), and seeing how these popular characters acted has actually influenced people’s behavior in positive ways. I want to see if we can use radio in similar ways here in Ethiopia with the rabies campaign.

People listen to the radio here as a popular media form, since many don’t have TV or internet.  In the morning we met with an FM technician at the top of a hill where his satellite is, and asked him questions about coverage and size of their reach. We also learned about the popular shows that people listen to, peak listening times and when they have time for ads.

Afterwards, since we were on top of a hill with such a beautiful view of the city, the whole team stopped at the Goha Hotel to look at the view, and then had lunch.

O-H-I-O

University of Gondar
University of Gondar

In the afternoon we split up again, Alejandra and Carla joining me to talk with FM station marketing managers (Danny was unfortunately down for the count today with a bad stomach virus) while the rest of the team drove a bit out of the city center to speak with a kebele leader. The FM marketing managers answered more of our questions about programming, specifically existing health programming that they already offer, and costs. We actually learned that it’s possible to have your own program on a regular basis within one of the popular news/information shows, as long as you pay for it. That could be a great opportunity for the rabies project going forward.

We went back to the hotel in the afternoon for some personal time. Some team members needed a nap, but others were itching to explore. Javed called John of Gondar to see about exploring the part of the Arada market where Jewish blacksmiths work. We asked our driver Amara to take us there. Alejandra, Javed and I noticed on the ride to the market that, despite the rain, many people were walking in quite nice clothing, while others were washing themselves and even others were herding lots of goats. We wondered why there was so much activity this afternoon, and Amara said that tomorrow was a holiday, the festival of Saint Mary. Apparently they will eat goat meat during this festival (other days, Wednesday and Fridays until 3pm, Ethiopians fast and only have one meal until 3pm).

We arrived at the Arada market to meet John. The pathways around the market were muddy and slippery due to the rain, and because they don’t have paved roads in that area. The mud was mixed with garbage and probably animal feces, and it smelled quite strongly. We tried our best not to slip and fall into the muck, and John was quite a gentleman, offering to hold our hands on the most slippery parts, but our shoes and feet were covered in gunk.

John leading us to the blacksmiths
John leading us to the blacksmiths

John took us to the back of the market, where children played a game, trying to hit a bottle placed on a pile of rocks with their own little stones. We finally encountered the section where Jewish blacksmiths worked, an area covered by tarps. They had coal-lit fires where they forged their metal axes and shovels. A few of them sat on leather bags that they moved back and forth, the air in the leather bag blowing onto the coals, feeding the fire. Little bits of metal material and ash flew around in the air. The blacksmiths looked at us curiously (probably the same that we looked at them), and John explained to them that we wanted to see how they worked. I had him translate to them that I am Jewish too. They said a joke, If I am Jewish, why can’t I make a ring? We all laughed at that. Then they started pounding the hot metal together, to straighten and shape it. It looked like very hard work.

leather marketWe walked around the Jewish quarter where women often sell things. A lot of their wares were leather, like leather pouches, wallets, and a sack for carrying a baby, and items made out of horse hair. I bought two horse-related items for Danny at his request; he was very sad to miss out on meeting his Jewish brethren. We had John and his friend Teddy negotiate for us, the vendors wanted to charge almost 300 Ethopian birr ($15) for a horse hair fly swatter, but we knew it was right to negotiate first. We told them that I am Jewish and a student, to have them empathize with me more, and they knocked the price down a bit.

spicesWe walked back through the area of the market where there are spices, and bought some tea, turmeric and incense. We said goodbye to John and Teddy and thanked them for their help, offering a tip for their tour guide services.

Javed, Teddy, me and AlejandraThen it was back to the hotel for a team meeting, goal-setting and debrief of the day before dinner. But first Alejandra and I took a photo opportunity at a truck parked near the hotel, which the locals thought was quite funny. We did too.

Hello, truck!We wiped our filthy shoes off in the grass to get the muck off, but some of it will remain.shoes