Thursday was December 25th but because Ethiopians believe Jesus’ birthday was December 29th, which is monday, it was just another day at the Offiice. Saturday, as usual, was Market Day and just as in the West, the last big shopping day before xmas was really busy. Everyone from everywhere seemed to be crowded into the market, but there didn’t seem to be anything special to buy, just more sellers and more people buying, in preparation for Xmas when they can all break their month long fast and gorge themselves on eggs milk and meat. I bought eggs : 1 Birr each (6 cents) and to get them home intact placed straw around them in one of the little plastic bags that I carry to the market for that purpose. I also bought a kilo of tomatoes for 42 cents, a small cabbage for 12 cents, 6 small carrots for 12 cents, a nice beetroot for 12 cents, 6 bananas for 1 birr each, 3 small limes for 1 birr, and it was around 50 Birr ($3) for a kilo of macaroni, a kilo of rice, half a kilo of raw peanuts – which I hadn’t ever seen for sale before - and a small mound of a local hot spice. The most expensive item by far was a tin of New Zealand Milk Powder - called “Me and My”for 100 birr ($6). I have seen places where fresh cow milk can be bought but I am not too sure if it would be safe for me to drink – my guts hold up pretty well, and Ive eaten local food that’s been offered to be polite wondering if I would suffer for it and haven’t so far, but I think local milk might be pushing it.
By the time I got back to the flat I had been walking out in the really harsh hot sun for about three hours - I always wear a hat but you still get very hot and dry and thirsty. Sitting down I noticed I had a really bad headache and so I had a couple of glasses of cold orange flavoured water. Later I still had a headache, and then I started to wonder if I was coming down with something. I remembered when I was squeezing through the crowded market an old woman turned to her side and sneezed right in my face – and the other day I noticed I had forgotten to take my malaria tablets – I checked my pulse – it seemed ok – I wondered if they would be able to treat meningitis here, or what was that other disease I saw a young woman die of last year – relapsing fever? It was only 3 in the afternoon and I felt tired – maybe I should go to the hospital and ask them to screen me for Malaria ? I checked my pulse again – 78 – and had another drink then lay on my bed wondering what to do. I had never been worried about my health before, never. In the end I fell asleep, feeling anxious.