Wednesday – Day 5
I guess it’s finally time to finish this thing. The story that is. You may have been wondering where I have been, why I haven’t plugged the final day of the trip up on my blog yet. Well you see when I sit down to write the days out I am actually taking myself through the process of reliving the day, and as hard as saying goodbye to my kids is, having to rip myself apart going through the mental process again isn’t something I really want to jump at. Doing it once was bad enough, having to do it twice, not what I want to go through.
Wednesday morning was check out at the motel, visitation hours weren’t until the evening, and the rest of the day, we had no idea. We wanted to purchase some small decorative coffee cups that we had seen earlier in the window of a nearby store, the one that never seemed to be open and had no posted hours. So when I woke up I ran down the street to see if they were open yet. No. On the way back I grabbed some bananas for breakfast. When I got to the motel I tried to find our laundry, that was supposed to be back yesterday, but was apparently still being done. I got permission to stay in the hotel until our clothes were returned, and as I turned around my friend Meaza was there in the lobby. She had come over to say goodbye. And she brought a beautiful purse and head wrap that matched the dress that Heather had bought yesterday. We just sat in the room talking and having fun, and finally our clothes showed up a little after noon. A quick shower (with no clothes to change into I didn’t see the point earlier) and a change of clothes we were finally ready to check out.
Meaza left for home and we put our bags into storage at the orphanage and decided to walk around a bit. There is a very nice coffee shop on the corner of the highway that we sat and enjoyed watching the shepherds take their livestock to market, the kids walking home from getting out of school, the shoppers going to market, just watching Ethiopian life. Occasionally one of the beggars would shuffle towards us, most of the beggars in this area being invalids and blind. It’s one thing to see these people on film or video, but to be sitting there drinking a mochiato, watching a man try to cross a four lane highway pulling himself on his hands, yeah, life doesn’t prepare you for that no matter how many times you have seen it. The Shoa market is a much smaller market, but still a lot of fun to walk around. They are as used to tourist, so they don’t cater to tourist items as much, but we were looking for things like frankincense and cooking utensils so we were good to go. Now every 5 minutes or so we would pick up a new kid trying to be our “guide” but typically a “IE!!!” would send them on their way laughing. But we did pick up one young teenager, still in his school uniform, carrying his books, who would not leave us alone. We tried darting into shops and waiting till he bored of the wait and left, but we soon realized he was just bored of standing in the un and would walk to where the was some shade and as soon as we would step out he would begin to follow us again. But seeing that he would never follow us into a shop I headed to a set of shops that I knew there where several ways out of. We found a really cute drum for Lucas while inside as well. On the way out I saw the kid, still waiting but his back was to this particular exit, he was still watching the one we went in to, and we took off down the road to find some lunch.
We ate at a great little place, that has one person that speaks English that works there, and the menu is totally in Amharic. Heather tried to translate, and she could read the menu just fine, we just didn’t know what half the stuff was. Finally we just ordered some Ambo, Cokes, and the fasting food platter. Ambo is mineral water bottled in Ambo Ethiopia. It is available in the US, http://www.nileenterprises.com/MineralWater.html but I’m not sure as to where as this is a wholesaler. I have seen it on the websites of many Ethiopian restaurants though. Now apparently there is a Honey that we could never find called Nidj Mar that is indigenous only to a certain region of Ethiopia. This honey is supposed to looked like butter in it’s raw form, and if mixed with Ambo and placed in the sun for a few hours you are supposed to have a drink similar to a high end Russian vodka, probably less alcoholic, but still we were warned you can get drunk quickly if not careful. Unfortunately I never had a chance to taste this Ethiopian treat, just as we never found the butter, but I wasn’t going to let Heather leave Ethiopia without having some Ambo.
Now Ambo itself is supposed to be really good for you, and great for your digestive track, but the stuff taste terrible. Really it does, even mixed 50/50 with my coke it wasn’t that great, but it is still a must do while in Ethiopia. For mineral water it’s not terrible I guess, even if you like tonic water it’s along those lines, but I don’t fancy either of them either. Lunch was great, but you really need to read my wife’s blog at this point and read her lovely description of the toilets there. Yeah, I was smart enough not to go. Needless to say we decided to walk a mile to a mall that we knew had cleanish restrooms. On the way there we passed my store with the cups in the window, and it was finally open. So we grabbed them and kept on going, and the funny thing is we were hit up for yet another scam, this time an “artifact” dealer who wanted to show us his wares. He didn’t push to hard though, and he got the hint that we weren’t coming with him. At the mall I got an awesome postcard, the Mona Lisa with traditional Ethiopia tattoos. I love it!
I wish I had some great story about our visitation with the kids, but it was so very, very sad, they were sad that this was is and we were just as sad, but hopefully not showing it as much as they were. Once again we helped the kids with their homework, but mostly I just sat there looking at my children praying for them and dreaming of their futures. Mostly just dreaming of the day that I would be able to return and remove them from living an institutional life and bring them into our family life. The care they are receiving is so very loving and nourishing from the foster mothers there, they truly love these kids as their own, but at the end of the day it is still and orphanage, and as my own son has said, his “home” is with me here in America, he just hasn’t seen it for himself yet. Sitting here on the couch he was perplexed by, you see our photos used to have a blue living room set, and he had memorized those photos, and the new photos had our new leather couch (a gift, not bought) and he didn’t recognize it as in his home, and tears are running down my face and my heart longs to be bale to run to his bed and kiss his forehead and tuck him into his sheets a little tighter, and an ocean separates us. Our time was up all too quickly and we had to leave. We were too exhausted to even think of doing anything other than go to the airport so we took the child we were escorting back to the states and took a taxi to the airport. Ethiopian Air had told me I was in silver status with this flight and the lounge is very nice, but they checked me in wrong and they tried to deny us access to the lounge. When I suggested letting me open my account up on the web and showing her the 45,000 miles on my account she decided to let us in to weather the next several hours.
For traveling families, the bulkhead is a first come first serve status, so go early and request it, it gives you a small sleeper bassinet for a baby to sleep in during the flight. So very totally worth it! The trip was over, we were on our way home, and our hearts were broken as we were once again leaving part of our hearts behind.