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Sunday, April 19, 2009

First day in Ethiopia

We got into the Bole (pronounced "bo-lay")airport in Ethiopia without
incident, were able to get our visa quickly and get to baggage claim
where we did our best to fend off the overly aggressive "helper" who
asked for a TWENTY dollar tip from Tim for lifting SOME of our
luggage off the spinning around dealy—we told him no, but he was
persistent and a haggler so I think when it was all said and done he
ended up with about $15 in "tips" from us because he was relentless!!
We got through all the baggage silliness and saw Yohannes, a
worker from our hotel holding up the "AGCI Family" sign we have seen
so many times on other peoples' blogs-it was finally OUR turn!
Yohannes is a very sweet, friendly tiny guy who took us to a driver
and they loaded all of our things into the van and we took a nice ride
to our hotel-Addis is teeming with people!! Yohannes told me about
many of the sights we passed and explained why there were an extra
large number of goats all over the streets today-this is Easter
weekend here in Ethiopia, a MAJOR holy-day that does NOT include
bunnies and plastic eggs! The people here buy a goat or an ox and
slaughter it themselves and have it as their Easter feast (kind of
makes ordering a Virginia ham look easy, eh?) He told me about how
sometimes multiple families will purchase one animal for all of them
to share. There were also chickens everywhere, beautiful, colorful
chickens, tied by a string on their legs to rocks, signposts, whatever
to make them not fly away. The people walk around carrying the birds,
upside down, by their legs while they are still alive so their rainbow
feathery wings are all flopped open and sell them to passersby. Not
quite like Tyson's shrink wrapped packages in the US-haha! During this
fascinating ride to the hotel, we were greeted by 2 children begging
through the window. I dug through my bag and got out the package of
boxes of raisins since we had no Birr (Eth currency) yet and I thought
that was better anyway because it was actual FOOD for them. However,
something must be up with those raisins because they too eyed them
suspiciously and walked away and no other children came begging after
that. Reminded me of the year we gave out apples for Halloween....
Anyway, we soon got to our hotel and watched the workers haul our
almost 65 pound suitcases up the steps on the back of their necks!!
We got settled in a bit but kind of felt like we were dragging from
being caught in a time warp for days and just sort of relaxed for
awhile. Unfortunately, we soon got a call from the folks at
Compassion saying Sultan could not make it today and maybe we can
reschedule for later in the week but we are not sure if that is going
to be possible. We were majorly bummed out, but we made the best of
our day by walking all around the part of town in which our hotel is
located and we were joined by a sweet little boy named Danny who is
11. He lives across from the hotel and spends a lot of his time
sitting out there waiting for us families to come out so he can help
us with anything or show us around-and maybe make some extra money
doing so! He took us all through some back alleys where there was way
less traffic, and way less pavement-the streets here are just dirt and
rocks, sometimes with paved areas that just abruptly end. They make
the roads in Pennsylvania where I grew up look like luxury highways!!.
In these alleys were all homes that have high walls all around them,
and the walls are made of rocks, bricks, stones, mud and yet they have
wildly ornate gates that serve as an entrance to the compounds. We
saw several foreign embassies just quietly tucked into those
alleys-they were not at all fancy ad you would never have known they
were an embassy if there was not a little sign by the gate. We took
pictures of lots of the gates because they will make for a beautiful
photo display back home! Anyway, we ended up at Kaldi's Coffee, the
Ethiopian replica of Starbucks (sign is even the same green circle
thing). But, it was MUCH cheaper and yummier than Starbucks!! No
offense Starbucks but for all of us (5 total) to get ice cream and
fancy milkshakes, it was like 12 dollars so you gotta up your game!!
We had fun talking with Danny there as well as with some children we
met on the street. They wanted money, which at that point we didn't
have any with us, but we took pictures of them and let them see it on
the back of the camera which they thought was great fun. The girl just
got all shy and giggly and blushed every time she saw her picture on
there, but would ask "more?" It was cute. The people are so beautiful.
I asked them if they knew who Jesus was and told them He loved them
so much-that He is the same as the God who created their beautiful
smiles. Unfortunately, I think it was a little lost in translation
because they would giggle and look at each other like "what is this
crazy white lady saying? We don't speak her language!" So I will just
leave the understanding of it to the Lord! We finally headed back to
the hotel where the brother of an Ethiopian friend from at home in
Virginia was waiting for us in the lobby of the hotel. He was very
very nice and told us we had to come to the easter dinner at his
sisters' the next day-"no make plan, ok?" he said. We are REALLY
looking forward to experiencing one of the most special holidays in
Ethiopia at the home of an native Ethiopian. We made our plans with
him to come back the next day to pick us up to go to his sister's and
left us with nothing to do tonite. We thought about going to bed
because we were REALLY tired, but instead we went out to dinner with
Tim and Dawn and the sister of another AGCI friend (Autumn) where we
had pizza and yummy Italian food -it was a nice change of pace from
all the spicy food on the plane, but it was still not quite like pizza
back home. The restaurant where we went was far away on the other side
of Addis so we got to see more of just everyday life here. This city
is filled with people who are always just walking walking walking but
I am not sure there are going where. And they hang out of the bus
taxi things and just walk down the center of the road and I am
surprised they do not get squashed by all the crazy driving! We saw
lots of live goats tied to roofs of cars and they were still alive
just looking around and had no clue they were on their way to be
dinner-poor goatie goats....All in all it was an amazing day of just
soaking up life here, but we are exhausted and going to bed. Tomorrow
we celebrate Easter where we were also invited by the hotel staff to
eat their Easter meal with them and to a coffee ceremony-so excited!!
One more day till we meet Zoe!!

(I am attaching pictures to these posts of some of the things we saw
yesterday so if they do not show up, can you tell me in the comments
so I don't try to attach more next time?)


Anonymous said...

All the photos came through! (9 of them) Trevor took similar photos of lots of doors in India, like your gate photos- they do make great shots! I wrote you an email, but not sure if you will get it. I said there that I think you just might be in India! The descriptions are so similar!!!!
How was the Easter goat-eating time??
Glad you are having a great time. Much love to you both!

Nancy Rees said...

The pictures are beautiful and your descriptions are priceless!. i am glad to hear of your trip being safe and relatively uneventful and am anxiously awaiting the tale of the meeting with Zoe--I can only imagine how you are feeling now. We continue to pray for your safety in this great adventure.
Love, Mom

Kelly said...

Yes, Jody, the pictures came through and remember to take a lot of them. Thinking about it finally being "your turn", I wonder if sweet Zoe has any idea that it is her turn to be received as a daughter into such an incredible family. Blessings to you three, Kelly

Anonymous said...

Jody and Pat-
We are soo glad that you all have arrived safely! We are happy that you are enjoying and embracing the "culture shock"-- try to take it all in while you can b/c it all goes by too quickly! Also, take LOTS of pictures to help you remember everything.
This morning in Sunday school I asked Mimi if Ms. Molly was spoiling her already and she said"....Ummm, not really"! This is total affirmation that you have left your kids in the absolute BEST care ever! I love it!!
Our joy, love and prayers are with your whole family during this adventure--Leah, Don, Ethan, Sam,and Mollie

Anonymous said...

I totally forgot to ask you to get the recipe for goat and we can all go in as a housegroup and buy our own goat to have a "goat grill potluck"!! YUM!!-- We will use your grill of course!!

Kristi J said...

yeah.....tell Dawny and Timmy to post too :) So excited for you guys...yeah....go see your babies :) and Post lots about it..I can't wait to be there, Kristi

nell ann said...

I am loving your posts! Keep up the details. I am so ready to see Zoe on your blog next! : )

dougb0 said...

Wow! You guys are really having some adventures! And this is just the very tip of the beginning! We've been thinking of you all these past few days... what fun to read what's you've been up to! Our whole family is praying for you all!
Dawn B. (in CA)

Michelle said...


How wonderful you are recording all of this on your blog. One day all your girls will be able to walk through the memories with you. How awesome! On the edge of my seat for what is next to come. Love and prayers. Michelle

Anonymous said...

How exciting! God is so good and so faithful. I stand in awe of what He is doing in your family and through your family.

Thanks for sharing with us this chapter of your life. I am anxious to see Emma tomorrow and hear her excitement!


Aubrey said...

Great pictures! We met the little boy Danny while we were there too. He was definitely under the impression that all Americans know one another and he asked us to say hello to another family he met. We decided not to burst his bubble and said we would. Are we terrible?! Thanks so much for posting about your adventure. I can't wait to hear about Easter dinner!