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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day Two!

Sunday Evening:  So after the nightime events with the dueling church singers from 3 am until 6 am (I was told today that these are most likely the priests from the orthodox Christian churches and not the muslims), we finally fell asleep around 6 am and slept soundly until 9:15.  We then ate a quick breakfast at the Guest Home, fresh squeezed orange juice and scrambled eggs.  Nice and easy on the tummy.


We spent the morning showering, and separating all of our orphanage donations.  (The shower was somewhat of a puzzle until we figured out black means hot and red means cold, and most of the time it comes out only one or the other (very hot or cold.)  We now have 3 large suitcases and 3 rubbermaid containers stacked in the living room just outside of our sleeping room.  We have more space in the sleeping room, and the bags are ready to be taken to the Transition Home on Tuesday. 


After lunch (cheese pizza with …. Tuna!), we met up with Aki and we headed off in another rickety van taxi to the National Museum (home of "Lucy", a 3.5 million year old skeleton of the earliest know bi-ped), the Lion Zoo, and then a quick jaunt to see the Lion of Judah monument.  The Lion of Judah is a symbol for Ethiopia's monarchy, which is said to have descended from the relationship between the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba and King Solomon.  The Lion Zoo was a small enclosure with a few monkeys, tortoises and the main attraction, black-maned lions.  Although the zoo is quite unlike those in the U.S. (if you reached your hand through the chain link fence and bars, you could touch a lion, and they had very little room to move about), it did give us a great opportunity to mingle with the Ethiopian people that were enjoying the zoo on a Sunday afternoon.


With our 2 blonde-haired daughters, we get quite a few curious stares and smiles.  At one point, a young lady passed by Maea and ran her fingers up Maea's arm and commented something to her friend.  Aki explained that she had said "She's gorgeous".  They seem to be very enthralled with the girls.


One of the biggest rewards of today, was simply the opportunity to get out and start to feel comfortable here in Ethiopia.  The people are very friendly and are quick to nod and say hello when you make eye contact and smile.  Athough Maea kept a tight grip on my hand much of the day, both of the girls smiled often and were really beginning to enjoy being here.  At one point, after we had observed several people holding a cluster of plants and eating the "pods" off them, I asked Aki what they were.  He explained that they are a type of bean that is in-season right now called d'shaat.  We promptly purchased a handful of stalks from a street vendor and she smiled as she watched us all try them.  You snap open the pod with your fingers and then eat the pea-like beans inside.  Tasty – and the girls finished all of them as we drove back to the Guest Home.


The weather was sunny and warm today (I would guess in the mid-80s) and toward evening it quickly cools off to where a jacket is needed (low 60's?).  We returned to the Guest Home around 4:30 and then we spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on our balcony watching people go about their daily business.  And there was much to observe … Many people were out for a Sunday evening stroll.  We watched groups of children walking arm-in-arm, young muslim women wearing bright colors and wrapped in sparkling head-dresses, donkeys and cows and goats, men pushing all manner of hand-carts, busses and taxis overflowing with people, men carrying huge bundles of sticks or grass (to feed their cows?).  We also noticed several 3-legged donkeys, but upon looking closer we realized that one of their front legs is tied to their chest.  This way they can hobble around to graze but they cannot roam far.  Oftentimes people noticed us on the balcony and once we waved or smiled, they would crack into a wide grin and acknowledge us with a big wave.


The little boys in the next yard over were doing all kinds of antics and stunts to get our attention.  Once we acknowledge them, they began blowing kisses and trying out their English.  Holding up a soccer ball, one would yell "This is a ball, yes?".  Then "I am a boy, yes?".  Each time I would say yes, they would clap their hands and cheer.  Then one little boy yelled "Do you have chewing gum?"  We tossed over some candy and they squealed with delight and yelled "Thank you!" and "Bravo".  Their big sister was washing her hair in a bucket in the yard (with a bar of soap) and she smiled and made them share the candy with her too.


Driving around the city, again the traffic is unbelievable and there were several near-misses.  There were times when I couldn't believe we didn't bump a human or a vehicle!  The hired drivers are very good and very quick.  The diesel fumes are incredibly strong and I found myself breathing through my mouth many times.  At times, the black exhaust spewing from the busses, cars and taxis is overwhelming.


We had a very enjoyable day and now we are waiting for Bob & Kate Hutchinson to arrive.  Aki will be meeting them at the airport and I hope they fare as well as we did getting through customs.  Emme is wrapped in a blanket and sitting on the balcony watching for them.


The staff here at the Guest Home is remarkably helpful and very sweet.  More families are arriving tonight so we will have a full-house in the morning.  Tomorrow, we will meet Robel at Kaldis (the Ethiopia version of Starbucks) for an orientation meeting and then after lunch we will go to the Transition Home.  I'm so glad we arrived a few days early because it gave us a chance to get comfortable and adapt to our surroundings – so tomorrow we can focus completely on the boys and the experience of our first meeting.




alisa said...

Wonderful commentary...I felt like I was with you!! BTW, we have a Kaldi's (coffee) in Springfield, MO -- not the same I'm sure, but still cool!

Rob and Candy said...

WOW~ great detail and insight. I'm so glad you made it! Today you are meeting your boys. I cannot wait to hear more.

Danielle said...

Great descriptions! Thanks so much or sharing. I love that you're probably about to sleep and see your boys in the morning. How exciting! Thinking of you so much!