Three days in Harar ended up being just the right amount of time– long enough to visit and sight-see, and also long enough to get tired of our hotel and wish for our nice guesthouse in Addis. Sunday morning we were up bright and early to get a jump on that 9 hour drive back to Addis. We were told that the restaurant upstairs opened at 6 AM, so we planned to start the day with coffee. After getting all packed up, we trundled upstairs to the restaurant thinking happily of coffee.
The restaurant was utterly deserted, except for a man sleeping in a corner on a mat that had been laid on two couches shoved together facing each other. Hmmm…. We sat for a few minutes, chatting and hoping our talking would wake him up. But when he didn’t budge, Sophie went downstairs to the front desk to tell them there was no one to help us. As she came back upstairs, the man’s phone began to ring. Sure enough, this was the morning restaurant staff.
We wondered if he would be grumpy, but he tossed his mat up on a high ledge in a practiced sort of way, and came over cheerily to take our order. Soon we were sipping on coffee yumminess. Then off we headed for a day of driving. During the 4 hours of twisty mountain roads on the start of the drive I tried hard to sleep– I hate mountain driving, and that road is riddled with enough wrecked and abandoned vehicles that the hazards are hard to forget.
The desert part of the drive was even hotter than it had been the previous week. We were all shedding layers and chugging liquids and wishing we could just fast-forward to Addis. Finally we made it to the one-hour dab of freeway on the edge of Addis. Now we were almost home.
Before settling in at the guesthouse, we stopped at the Sishu for burgers, fries and ice cream. (Such a hard life!) Then we settled in happily at the guesthouse for a quiet evening.
The next day we had a quiet day at the guesthouse– very welcome after the busy days previously. Sophie, Lidya and I went for a walk at one point, on the hunt for some groceries for the next few days.
We headed out in the direction Dawit had taken us in the van, not realizing that he had brought us on a logical path for a car, due to roads that were blocked in the middle by medians and a train track. But it was a tremendously inefficient walking route, taking 45 round-about minutes to reach a location that should have taken ten. Ah well. The next day we went the easy route.
It was entertaining to walk anywhere, because people talked about us incessantly, and whether people realized it or not, Sophie and Lidya understood the vast majority of it. The most common comments centered around the words ferenge (foreigners) and Habesha (Ethiopian, which people did not automatically assume the girls were– apparently they look pretty American). On this walk we were shopping for fruit and veggies, and people were endlessly amused and surprised to find that ferenges might buy onions and garlic.
That afternoon after we got home it rained– a downpour that began with perhaps 3 minutes of warning thunder– leaving us very glad that we’d gone for our walk in the morning instead of the afternoon. In Addis when it rains, it truly pours.
On Tuesday we visited Kidane Mehret, the orphanage where Emily and Julianna both lived for awhile before coming to us. Sister Camilla greeted us all with hugs and cries of delight and happily showed us around the place. As usual, she could tell you which kids had families already, where they were going, and how much longer it would likely be before they could come home.
She sighed ruefully over the increase in paperwork time since the changes in the Ethiopian adoption process. The orphanage is much less crowded than in was in the past, which is good, but in general children wait there much longer before going into families. And some of the children, because of lack of documents, will never have families.
I was smitten with a blind girl of 13 or 14 (in white, next to me) who is incredibly smart and knows quite a bit of English. She is led around by an also-precious girl (in green) who has Down Syndrome; they are obviously sweet friends to each other.
Here are some photos of our visit, during which we snuggled babies, handed out tiny treats, and painted the fingernails of anyone who was interested, including quite a few little boys. You should be able to click on any photos to enlarge.
After Kidane Mehret, we headed for lunch at a Korean restaurant that turned out to be excellent. Rice is comfort food for more than a few of us, and we thoroughly enjoyed this meal. After lunch we did a little gift-shopping. I had been commissioned by Erika to find a basket something along the lines of a Moses basket, that she could use with her soon-due baby for nap time. I was delighted to find a nice rectangular one that I think should work nicely. Others of us were also successful gift-shopping for friends and family.
Our final day in Addis was spent packing up, weighing luggage, and then meeting a friend of Lidya’s at the mall for a visit. She came to America just a few months after Lidya and Zeytuna did, and happened to be here on a visit at the same time we were. They had a great time visiting and catching up.
We had to be at the airport by 7:30 in the evening, and there we were sad to say goodbye to Dawit. He had been with us on this trip from start to finish, and we were so blessed by his steady presence. I think he may have even been sad to say goodbye.
Bole Airport was full of more than the usual chaos. First off, at the ticket counter I had a bad moment counting passports and panicking because we only had 5. We’d been traveling the whole time with my sister Sophie, and in my head I’d gotten very used to counting to 6. Except she wasn’t traveling til two days later and wasn’t even at the airport with us, so 5 was exactly the right number of passports to have. Whew.
We waited upstairs near our gate for quite awhile before I realized that to get around the glass wall to our gate (instead of the flight attendants just opening doors as I’d assumed) we’d need to go through yet another security screening way down at the far end of the hallway. We figured this out with enough time to spare, thankfully. But the lines were hugely long and quite a few other people were still trying to get through security when they should have already been on their plane. Airport workers were walking through the mob yelling out city names, and pulling those passengers to the front of the screening lines to try to get them to their planes faster. It was absolute chaos for awhile.
Once on the plane, our first stop (after 9 hours in the air) was in Germany, where we had a 5 hour layover. We took up a bit of the time by accidentally going the wrong direction when we got thru security, which meant we had to go through security again 5 minutes later. And boy, were some of those security screeners bossy. Arg. Ah, well. Like I said, we had time to kill. And after 9 hours on the plane, it was good to walk.
From Frankfurt to Chicago was another 9 hours, and in Chicago we were delayed again getting through immigration. For some reason they passed all of us through except Zeytuna, who they pulled aside (with me) to ask some additional screening questions. Eventually we made it through, picked up and dropped off all our luggage after customs, and had yet more time to kill before our last 3 hour flight home. On that final flight to home, we were all so tired that the kids were falling asleep all over each other, looking like wilted flowers. But eventually, 16 days after we left Idaho, we were back to home, sweet home again, much to all of our delight, especially John’s! What an amazing trip!