Irene has been telling me about how her organisation had decided to shut down the other team working in Ethiopia.
"'Us?' said J-----, one of my team-mates. 'You want us to up there?'
"'I'm afraid so,' said C-----, our organisation's head. 'I've barely have been able to find time to come here, and I definitely can't go there myself. You need to leave tomorrow. Your colleagues here can take on your classes. And when you reach S-----, you should read this to K-----,' he said, holding out an envelope which I took from him. 'It will make our position clear'.
"C----- left for a flight from Addis soon afterwards. We packed our things and then went to bed, trying to be as rested as possible for the journey. I can't speak for the others, but I had trouble sleeping that night.
"The following morning, we caught the first bus to S-----. You've never travelled by bus here yourself? It is an interesting experience. The locals tend to strike up conversations with the exotic farangi, asking them where they are off to, and why. So it was this time. But it was noticeable, and worrying, that people went silent when they learned we were with our organisation, and that we were going to S----- to meet the team there. The bus generally fell silent, save for people pointing at us and muttering to their neighbours in Amharic or Oromo. The bus driver even turned off his tape of Teddy Afro. We ourselves were too self-conscious to talk to each other, so for most of our journey all was silent, save for the sound of the road.