the heart of Ethiopia

Our second flight from Frankfurt to Addis was packed. We were assigned seats in the last row of the plane. Kevin tried to get our seats moved to another row however no success. We sat down and settled in for our flight. There was a commotion about 15 row ahead of us. And after a short time the stewardess moved an Ethiopian mother traveling alone with her two children to right next to us. She had a precious 11 month old baby girl, "E". E took right to me and I was blessed to hold her and play with her many times throughout our trip. This was a gift from God and gave me peace about being a mother to Faith.

As we approached Addis my heart quickened and I felt excited and scared alla t once. We landed at 7pm and it was already pitch black outside. Next came standing in line for a visa, then for our bags, and all of this took about 1 hour. Now it was time to exit into the large crowd waiting for arrivals and try to find Saba's family. We walked through the doors and as I looked to my left I saw a woman holding a small piece of paper that said, "Sony" in dark blue letters.
The woman with the sign was Eleni, Saba's sister with her husband Tedy and their oldest daughter. Immediately we were friends with hugs all around. We were so thankful for their help! Our luggage was not going to fit in Tedy's car and so we also got a taxi. Two cars loaded with our stuff headed off into the chaotic maze that is Addis Abeba. Cars, people, and animals everywhere. We arrived shortly at our hotel located on a busy road across from a car wash, trash pit, construction and animal auction. There were many people and animals everywhere. Our hotel has a beautiful restaurant and cafe where you can sit outside and drink delicious coffee, seriously delicious coffee! The restaurant is open 24 hours and so we are treated at night to some dance music. :)

We experienced the poverty right when we left the airport. Two adorable little boys dressed in rages, repeatedly asked for money and food, "sister, brother, hungry, food.' Once of them began to sing for us. Wow, I was not ready for this. We were told not to give them any money, but those little eyes pull hard at your heart. However we have learned that is is illegal to give anything at signal lights and the children begging work for grown ups who use them to get money. It is much better to give that money to an organization that will bring lasting help, this is hard to remember in the moment.

The first night was a bit rough as we tried to adjust tot hen ew time and all the sounds. But we were still thankful to get some rest. The morning came hard but we quickly woke up with some coffee and pound cake. Tedy & Eleni arrived and joined us for coffee. I could sit out on the cafe porch all day and just watch the action. It is truly amazing - sort of a third world New York City. Tedy took us for a drive around the city and we stopped at the Lion's Zoo. They have about 12 or so lions, baboons, monkeys and egyptian geese. It was crazy how close you can get to the lions. One lion was right at the basrs with his paw sticking through. If I was brave enough I could have touched the lion's paw. However, I am not that brave so instead i took a photo. Kevin thought the lion may grab the camera.

There was a large group of school children there. Each on wanted to say to me, "my name is......" to practice their English and to shake my hand. Beautiful children! Everywhere we go people stare and children giggle. I think we must look like the Amish do in America.
Next stop was the home of Zenesh, Saba's mother. We had already met her in America and had her in our home. She was very happy to see us. Here in Addis every home has an outer metal gate and wall and the tops of these are covered in broken glass. This is all for security purposes. Her home was down a small rocky, muddy alley. She ahas a beautiful home and we felt very welcomed. They had prepared lots of food for us to eat. Injer (which is a courdough flat bread that you use to eat all other food), doro wat (chicken in red spicy sauce), shir (bean puree), gomen (green cabbage) and ayib (white cheese). To drink we mixed Fanta and Coke or club soda. Then they had a coffee ceremony for us. The beans are roasted on charcoal until black, then crushed. Water is heated in a special pottery coffee pot and the grounds are cooked int he water. The coffee is served in small tea cups with mild and you eat popcorn and kolo (mixture of nuts and grains). They also burn incense during this ceremony. Slow roasted fresh coffee, visiting with friends, eating popcorn and kolo, and incense - all things Kevin and I already enjoy, Ethiopian coffee ceremony is great for us!

We went for a walk around the neighborhood. The roads are made of dirt and very bumpy, uneven ground. Everywhere there are people walking all the time. The streets are lined with small shack stores, one after another after another - selling everything imaginable. It seems that everyone sells something here. Behind each store is where the family lives that owns that location. We took in the sights and the fresh air. Then Kevin left with Tedy to purchase a sim card for our phone and I got a much needed nap. We spent the afternoon with Zenesh and her family visiting and eating. It is such a blessing to be able to spend time in an Ethiopian home.
Our second night was filled with more sleep thankfully. I awoke feeling refreshed and ready for the day. For breakfast we had porridge, toast, baklava and of course, coffee. I am trying to learn and use some Amharic but I am horrible at it. Tedy and Zanesh picke dus up at the hotel and we drove to the National Museum. There is a pretty garden in the cour yard. The Museum is filled with artwork and historical artifacts all from Ethiopia. There are crowns from the famous kings of Ethiopia, historical instrument's, weapons,,potter, clothing. It is amazing that some of the told there are still used in outer areas of Ethiopia. Many places they still use and ox and plow for farming. I told Tedy in America this was how they farmed 110 years ago. Even the capital Addis is very behind modern technology, still everyone has a cell phone. The artwork is all very heavy with themes of suffering and war. Ethiopia has a painful history.

When we left the museum the stairs were lined with school children in their brightly colored uniforms. The children were trying to speak slang English to us, so Kevin asked them "What's up?". They all giggled and one child answered, "Noting" to which came more giggling.

We are having a wonderful time here in Ethiopia and I have much more to tell soon. I will close with a funny story from our trip so far. This morning Kevin sat on the toliet lid to use it as a stool and the lid snapped into about 5 pieces. I was asleep at the time and woke thinking he had broken something very serious in the bathroom. We laughed pretty hard when we saw the toilet lid shattered to bits. So note: in Ethiopia do not use the toilet lid as a stool. For this mess we had to pay 150 birr which is about $12.

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