Cris in Ethiopia

Been a long time…

Posted by Cris on March 8, 2008

Hello anyone out there who is still reading or getting updates. Yes, we are back safely in the States and have been for a few months now. I thought Id write briefly to give an update, a thank you, and sign off.

Amy is living in Portland, in a house with a few friends and our dog Besu. Besu is one of the pups fro Ethiopia, that I sent home in secret for a surprise Xmas present for Amy. Backa, the other pup, is still living in Addis with our friend Fikirte. Amy is well, working as a receptionist for a section-8 housing agency, and applying to nursing school in Portland.

I am living in Tacoma, WA with my best friend Drew, also working with him (and simultaneously satiating my bike-stuff addiction) at Old Town Bicycle in Gig Harbor, WA. I am planning on a move back to Portland in June. I have been accepted to Lewis and Clark College for a masters program in teaching, so depending on what happens with Amy’s apps I may start in June to become a REAL teacher.

No- if youre wondering- Amy and I didnt break up and we are still happily together. Just living in different places for now, which is a new kind of adventure for us.

Mostly here I wanted to say thanks to all of you who read and replied to the blog while we were away. It helped us immeasurably to feel like we had regular contact to other folks back home, and the replies I recieved to some of my posts helped ground me in reality when life turned a bit weird and surreal over there. So, THANK YOU!

W e miss Ethiopia in waves, especially the cheap produce and more especially the kids at the orphanages. I think we both still want to return to Ethiopia in the future, maybe a few years down the road. It truly was an amazing and difficult trip.

So people, goodbye. I dont anticipate writing here anymore. I have started a new blog at that you can check out if you want. I have been feeling like writing lately, so maybe itll turn into something. Who knows.

Thanks and Goodbye for now,



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Sunny Southern Spain

Posted by Cris on November 15, 2007

We´ve found the sun at last. Well, we did have a lot of sun in Normandy, but the sun here is doing all the right sunny things like making us hot and sweaty and turning our skin pink. Its lovely! We are WWOOFing outside Granada, in a town called Portugos. The place´s website is, if you would like to look at where we are at. Its a lovely stone house with a great view and lots of fledgling gardens to work in. No animals besides two funny dogs: a dachsund who is a bit adverse to going outside in the weather and only wants his belly rubbed, and a black mid-size mix who really only wants to entice you to throw sticks for her. Pictures soon.

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Nice to see you again!

Posted by Cris on November 3, 2007

So these are the folks we are hanging out with lately. A few new pictures are up from our time here in Normandy. Hope you like them!

What are you looking at?, originally uploaded by amycheese.

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faux royalty (from Amy)

Posted by Cris on October 19, 2007

We’re living in a castle. No joke! We are WOOFing at a place In Normandy, just a few miles from the famous beaches of D-Day. This is my first time WOOFing and quite honestly I can’t think of how it could get any better. The day begins with bacon and toast, then on to garden projects, a break for biscuits and coffee, more garden time, then a huge four course lunch! We then get the rest of the day to read and go on bike rides. I am also trying to start drawing again, starting with the sheep flitting about the castle grounds. They also have several ponds stocked with fish and the trouble-making ducks from next door. Our hosts, June and David, have made us feel instantly comfortable and at home. I am loving having a little time to process and unwind from the intensity of living in Ethiopia. When I came back from Senegal I was tempted to give away my worldly poccessions in reaction to all the poverty I saw. Coming back from Ethiopia I don’t have those feelings. Even though I witnessed horrible poverty and often a lack of basic human rights, it made me appreciate how lucky I am to live in the developed world. While I still want to live a socially-conscious life, I certainly am not feeling guilty about playing princess for awhile!

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Posted by Cris on October 18, 2007

We are in Normandy now, having arrived safe and sound on the train yesterday. We worked today, shoveling sheep mess out of one of the barns and taking a load of junk to the dump. It is beautiful and we are loving it so far. I have asked Amy to write something about the place, since its all new for her (Ive been here before). So stay tuned…

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Posted by Cris on October 18, 2007

As you have all seen already from the pics, we went hiking in the Alps last week. We were out for 3 nights and 4 days, and it was pretty amazing. I learned a few things from the outing too- first, its freaking cold in the Alps in October. I know, the pictures are full of blue skies. But it was reeeallly cold, we werent able to take off sweatshirts until the last day, and then only for a bit. We struggled through the first night, shivering, with or friend Julie. We only then were able to continue the other nights because Julie went home but we kept her sleeping bag and pad, so we had three of each for the two of us. French trailmakers dont mess around- this is the second thing I learned. They do switchbacks when they are really necessary, but other than that trails tend to go straight up hills. Brutal on the legs and the psyche when youre standing at the bottom looking up and imagining yourself rolling back down. On one trail we were more or less climbing on all fours- ‘a quatre pattes’ as they say here. Then there were the spikes- you saw the picture. We went up the trail, wondering how we would get around the cliff face but thinking the trail would do it somehow. Then we got there and our jaws dropped- it went across the cliff face, with the metal spikes to walk on and the cable to hold onto. I dont know if it was better or worse that the fog had rolled in and we couldnt see how far the cliff went down. I did half of it with no backpack and then decided I couldnt do it with a backpack on. Amy threatened that if she had to try her butt would freeze up and she wouldnt be able to go any more, then we would have to rescue her. So we went around.
The french mark trails differently than we do, in a more practical and less sceninc way- with spray paint. They choose a color per trail and then spray trees and rocks so you can follow. It makes it very easy to follow the trail, true, but they tend to go overboard, marking the trail every ten feet even when there is no other trail to follow, so you cant possibly get lost. It feels, at times, like youre hot on the trail of a very unoriginal grafitti artist, who cant do anything besides straight lines and arrows.
Anyhow, these things were all overshadowed by the beautiful sights, bright stars, deafening quiet at night, and clean air. A great way to spend some time.

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Sunset on Mont Blanc

Posted by Cris on October 14, 2007

Here are some pics from our backpacking trip. Enjoy! (See the rest on the Flickr site)

Sunset on Mont Blanc, originally uploaded by amycheese.


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Haute Savoie

Posted by Cris on October 10, 2007

So here we are in Southern France, 40 km west of Geneva, near a city called Annecy. Its beautiful- big cliff-filled mountains, green fields filled with brown cows wearing bells, lakes, fruit trees, old farmhouses, and (knock on wood) sunshine. We’re staying at our friend Julie’s boyfriend’s parent’s house (ahhh connections), restarting our physical selves and eating to beat the band. Our outdoor activity tally so far: one day of bike riding (brutal, considering 8 months off bikes), a long walk to recover the next day, and a 3 hour hike then a 3 hour spelunking adventure today. Tomorrow we leave for a 3 day backpacking trip in the mountains.

The cave was super cool today- a giant waterfall, wearing helmets and harnesses, clipping into lines so as not to fall into big holes (FOR SECURITY ONLY HELEN), climbing ladders to some places too tall to climb to. It was immense, I dont know how far in we went, but the cave goes for 20 km supposedly. It was cold down there, but very fun. Amy was going through a difficult part when kerplunk! Her headlamp fell off her helmet and splashed into the water. Kudos to Petzel headlamps, the thing stayed lit even under 7 feet of H2O. One of the boys (Julie and her BF’s friends) went in to get it, despite our pleas to leave it. He said he couldnt bear the thought of the batteries fouling the water.

As far as food goes, Amy is in 7th heaven eating more cheese than you can shake a stick at, along with apples and pears,  fromage blanc, bread, and chocolate. Lucky for me she is able to pursue her baking desires here, so I get to eat yummy brownies and pies too. We had a fondue tonight and crepes for dinner the other night. 

The 16th we will be on the move, North to Normandie and our first WWOOF farm (learn more about WWOOF at and the place we will be staying at

Until later, au revoir. 

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Amy feeding Hyenas

Posted by Cris on October 4, 2007

Here is a video of Amy feeding hyenas with her teeth.

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Senait Walking

Posted by Cris on October 4, 2007

A video for Amy’s family showing Senait walking.

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