Saturday, our last day in Ethiopia...at least for awhile. I'm already ready to go back! We so look forward to taking ALL of our kids back one day.
We woke up today and broke the news to the kids that, Finally, Today, we get to leave for America. "Today? No Tuesday? YAY!" Yes. TODAY. Ahhhhh...
We had planned on being in Ethiopia for Christmas on January 7th (yes, Christmas Ethiopian-style falls on the 7th of January); but, with our earlier flight, we would be missing that. So, we went ahead and had our own little Christmas celebration in our little hotel room. Receiving presents is not traditionally part of the Ethiopian Christmas, although some parents (if they are able) might give each of their children one new outfit. We knew this beforehand, so we packed each of the kids a new outfit that was designated specifically for the plane ride home.
After packing up all of our belongings and making sure the kids were as clean as possible (not knowing when their next opportunity to bathe would be), we passed off our luggage to the bellhop for safekeeping so that we could venture out to the shops to grab some souvenirs from Ethiopia.
Here we are waiting for our driver, Alazar:
Yes, we are wearing matching shirts. And, NO, I do not normally force my children to do that. These "One Family" shirts are stinking awesome, though, so they truly merit the stares and empathy of others who are all secretly thinking "Bless their little hearts for all being dressed alike."
Side story to share...Back in 1995 I went to Africa for the first time on a mission trip to Kenya. About a dozen others (none of us knew each other before the trip) also took part, and one of the younger ones on the trip (along with me) was a girl named Danielle. After the nearly month-long trip, I kept in touch with her for a little while, but alas this was during the pre-EVERYONE-IN-THE-UNIVERSE-HAS-AN-EMAIL-ADDRESS era, so staying in touch was no easy task.
A few months ago I was thinking about Danielle and how I wish I could find her and let her know about our upcoming adoption from Ethiopia. For some reason, I could just picture her (wherever she was and whomever she was with) bringing home her own from Africa as well. Well, lo and behold, two days later (not even kidding) I got an email from a friend at our former adoption agency informing me that a new client of theirs recognized my photo on an Ethiopian mission trip blog and that she's pretty sure I'm the same person she went to Kenya with twelve years ago. SMALL world, right?
Turns out Danielle (check out her blog under The Blacks to the left) and her family just started the adoption process from Ethiopia and are selling the COOLest shirts as a fundraiser. Hence, the matching t-shirts we are donning in the afore-shared photo. :) We love our One Family shirts. The coolest. [Kari...Your Simply Love shirts are Simply the Coolest, too, and we are about to order a few. Don't get all jealous on me now.]
Okay, so where was I?...Ah, yes. Shopping in Ethiopia. Yes, shopping in Ethiopia (or any African country for that matter) is an experience. It's like a smorgasbord of the COOLest (warning: overused word of the day) collectables (or collectibles for those who prefer the 'i') and all things African. While we did load up on LOTS of goodies to bring home for keepsakes, I wish we had been able to bring more. But, as I was telling some of our best pals just today, you truly feel slightly sick tossing so much cash around in a Third World country just so you can take a slice of so-called "heaven" home with you, when the wad in your hip pack (no, it is NOT a fanny pack) could feed a family for a year in Addis. (Justification for spending in Addis: It goes into their economy.) Chalk it up to another aspect of the entire adoption process that will rock your mind. It just doesn't make sense.
After returning from our rendezvous, we promptly hit the "toilets" and my girls experienced electric hand dryers for the first time. Selam thought that was WAY more entertaining than our shopping excursion.
Since we would not be needing to head to the airport for about 5 more hours, we had a LOT of time to waste at the Hilton. So, we did just that. And it was actually really FUN. (Isn't it amazing how much more tolerable the intolerable is when you know there is an END in sight? We're such wimps.)
So, here you are, a smorgasbord of snapshots of our last few hours in Ethiopia. [And no, I typically do not incorporate the word smorgasbord TWICE into one blog. Or any number of blogs for that matter. I really do not even like the word. It's so NOT the COOLest.]
Yes, that is Selam gutting an eggroll. The shame, the horror! Best part: she tossed the guts onto the floor. Classic Selam.
The COOLest Ethiopians EVER.
Bereket was very insistent (read: VERY insistent) that we find him some sunglasses and Ethiopian Christian CDs. We purchased the highly specifically desired CDs at a Christian CD "shop." And we finally found the sunglasses at a roadside vendor at the very end of our shopping trip through Addis. Check Check.
[P.S. Kirk did this on his OWN FREE WILL. Which, I know should be cause for great alarm, but I'm actually more alarmed that I'm actually not alarmed. Just an indicator of the appropriateness of the wall sign hanging back here in our breakfast room at home: "YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH FUN." Preach it, yo'.]
Coming soon...Photo Diary #6...Departing Ethiopia...Bittersweet moments.
P.S. To purchase your own One Family t-shirts and support another adoptive family, click HERE.