|The building looked more European than Ethiopian|
|We were told the company hires over 60 workers at a fair salary|
|I loved listening to this women laugh and talk as they worked on the porch|
The next stop was to find some teff flour that I could bring home and start experimenting with as I attempted injera. Little did I know this would involve a trip to the infamous Merkato, supposedly Africa’s largest open air market. Two guide books we brought told us that if we were going to be robbed in Ethiopia, it would happen here. Needless to say, I wasn’t entirely comfortable leaving the car to meet with Fekadu’s friend who took us to various stalls, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to get some teff! I tightly held my camera bag with one arm (it was in a backpack on my back) and tightly held Lou’s hand with the other. Larry held Buddy’s hand in front of me and we had Fekadu behind us and his friend in front of us. I felt like a VIP with all the “protection!” We hit a spice stall first and I have no idea if I was ripped off or not because of my American accent! I bought a bunch of shiro, berebere, and mitmita. Next, we hit a stall selling various grains and I bought a few kilos of teff, only to discover once I got home that it wasn’t ground into flour (thank God for a good blender that did the trick pretty well)! The final stop was a stall that sold traditional clothing and linens. I was on the prowl for something to put on our dining room table as we celebrated Ethiopian holidays in years to come. L wheeled and dealed and talked the owner down considerably on a beautiful hand embroidered tablecloth and matching napkins. I hated not knowing the price point of any of these things, having no idea if we were being gouged. Being the deal hunter that I am, I had to just suck it up and hope they were being honest (although in some cases, Fekadu told us in so many words that some of the vendors were trying to increase the prices considerably).
|I was too scared to take out my camera as we walked around the Merkato, but when we were leaving in the car, I snapped this one. Check out the guy carrying the mattresses–this place was C-R-A-Z-Y!!|
Next, we decided to go purchase the painting we had found the day before and as we pulled up to the restaurant, I happpened to notice out of the corner of my eye, a man leaving the restaurant with the exact painting we were about to buy! I grabbed L as fast as I could and said, “There’s our painting!” L ran over to him to see if he had in fact bought it and lucky, lucky day, he had not bought it but was only taking it back to his studio–he was the artist!! L offered to buy it on the spot from him for what the restaurant was asking, knowing that Dimetros (the artist) would make out better selling it independently than on consignment. He wanted 1000 birr more for it at first and asked L if we could take him back to his studio so we could debate the issue there, as he was worried the restaurant owner might see him selling it on the street and argue that he had seen us there the previous day. So we got even luckier and were able to go to his studio which we loved. He brought out the paintings he had there for us to view but after seeing them all, we still came back to the one we had originally fallen in love with. There was also a small painting with children’s clothing painted on it. He told us he had young children and that was his inspiration. L was great with his bargaining skills again and we walked away with both paintings for less than we would have paid for the one in the restaurant (because the restaurant would have charged a 15% value added tax which he didn’t charge). It was one of the coolest parts of the time we spent in Addis!
|Dimetros with his painting that we bought|
|This was Dimetros studio|
After returning to the guest house, we waited for Ato Teklu to arrive to brief us before our court hearing the following morning. He ended up never showing because he got caught in a meeting. It was a little frustrating but we knew this was fairly typical in Ethiopia and we had been lucky so far not to encounter too much of it. We decided to walk to a little bakery/coffee house down the street and give the kids a treat for being so good. They had some amazing gelato and I had a piece of cake and a macchiato. It was all divine! We had not eaten many sweets in Ethiopia so it was a welcome treat!
|Macchiato and a piece of cake–my idea of Heaven!|
|There was a lot of Italian influence in Bilos–it was awesome!|
After we were sufficiently sugared up, we took a walk down Bole Ave. which is a very busy, central road in Addis. We were on the prowl for a bookstore another adoptive family had told us about that sold some great children’s books and we still wanted to find a good map of Ethiopia to bring home. As we walked the kids weren’t happy about our excursion. I must add that they had been GREAT travelers the entire trip and so they had a right to complain about yet another shopping spree. At the time though, I was less than patient with them as we had walked quite awhile and still had not found the bookstore. We asked a shopkeeper who spoke limited English where it was and he asked, “Old Bole Rd. or new Bole Rd?” Um, are there two?! We decided to throw in the towel at that point and head back.
One of the scariest moments of the entire trip took place as we walked on the sidewalk. Buddy was holding on to a hand rail along the edge of the sidewalk. On the other side of this rail was a very steep, vertical dropoff, a good 20-30 feet down onto concrete. He wasn’t paying attention to where he was walking as he was looking at what was on the other side of the railing far below. Thank God I was watching because the railing abruptly ended just a few feet from where he was. Maybe he would have been able to jump out of harm’s way at the last second, but it was one of those moments as a mother that you can’t help but think what could have also happened, and I am quite sure I lost a few years of my life as I yelled out his name and pulled him away. It was such a dangerous spot and I guess if you’re local, you know it’s there, but since we didn’t…..oh my….
For dinner, we headed to another traditional Ethiopian restaurant we had been told about by other adoptive families, Habesha 2000. It featured live music and traditional dancing while you dined but the difference was that eventually they wanted the audience to join in the fun! Buddy, Lou, and I were trying to look as inconspicious as possible but let’s face it, when you’re about the only white skinned person in an entire restaurant, especially when your table if front and center, it’s nearly impossible to hide! The dancers ventured over to us, encouraging us to join them. Let me tell you, these dancers could move their bodies and pop their joints like nothing I have seen, so my shy self wasn’t about to get up there with them. L took one for the team and joined in the dance! The food here wasn’t nearly as good as Yod Abysinnia, but any platter of injera and Ethiopian food is a friend of mine, so I couldn’t complain too much!
It was late when we left and we had to get up early for our court appearance, so I was nervous about the kid’s not getting enough sleep, but also thankful they’d be exhausted by the time we boarded the plane that night at 10:30 p.m.
The next morning, we headed for the court house with one other guy from WACAP, Paul, who was adopting a baby with his wife (they have a son with some medical issues and so she wasn’t able to come on this trip but he brought their friend, May, along, and they were so much fun getting to know!) Ato Teklu came to pick us up and we waited in a room full of other families waiting to see the judge in her chambers. The kids did amazingly well in a very hot, very crowded room where we had to wait quite awhile. We had threatened them with losing TV, computer time, AND dessert for the rest of the summer if they misbehaved in the court house and I didn’t feel guilty in the least bit making the stakes so high. I couldn’t stress enough how important it was that they behave, and luckily, the message came across loud and clear and they were great!
The judge called us in with Ato Teklu and we sat down and answered a few questions that I can’t even remember now! I was nervous about making a good impression and she spoke in a serious and stern tone so that didn’t help me relax. She told us that she was still waiting for the letter from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to arrive before she could make Jones legally our son, but that she didn’t anticipate any problems with it arriving. It was frustrating to have not passed court while we were there but Ato Teklu also reassured us that this was fairly common and normal and that it shouldn’t take too long for it to arrive (and as I was typing this post, I received an email from WACAP stating that today it did arrive–two weeks post court but I’ll take it! Jones will be moved from Awassa to Addis early next week to the WACAP House!
Back to the story….just couldn’t not share that big news! We spent the rest of the day touring the WACAP House which was a big improvement over Ajuuja as far as feeling more homey with a much smaller ratio of caregivers to children. Solomon, WACAP’s social worker in Addis, also took us to a bookstore where we bought some children’s books, and then we headed back to the guest house.
We were in limbo for a few hours as we waited for the van to pick us up to take us to the airport. Once we finally arrived at the airport, we had even more time to kill before boarding, so we ate dinner and I had my now obligatory 24 oz. beer before boarding a plane! Paul and May were fun to get to know and I really hope Paul (and hopefully his wife) return at the same time for their embassy appointments.
The kids did great again on the return trip home. It was an even longer flight because of a refuel stop in Rome. Lou slept for a looooong time draped across my lap and Buddy got a few hours of sleep in. I sat with the kids again and poor L got the short end of the stick this leg as he sat next to a woman with a toddler who didn’t speak any English. To the baby’s credit, he did as well as a toddler can do on a 16 hour flight but I felt so bad for the mother as she was travleing alone and didn’t even speak Amharic. The flight attendants were snooty to her which pissed me off. L couldn’t have been nicer sitting next to her (no surprise) and let the baby’s head rest on his tray as he slept. For whatever reason, this flight seemed more manageable to me than the flight going over, maybe because I knew what to expect. The thing I didn’t expect leaving both flights was to be so sore–I felt like I do after running a marathon!
It felt good to be back in the US, and finally in Atlanta after a layover in D.C. Daddy picked us up from the airport, so excited to hear all about his new grandson and to see us. Of course, I miss Mama desparately in these moments but Daddy’s enthusiasm helped me cope so much better than I would have otherwise. He wanted to hear all about the journey and had been following the blog as I wrote in Ethiopia–it was a lot like she would have been had she been there. He has offered to pay for my trip back to Addis with L, to bring Jones home. It was a HUGE gesture on his part as we had resolved ourselves to the fact that bringing the kids on this trip would take the place of both of us returning on the second trip. I do believe I will take him up on the offer. My only stipulation is that we fly like the president and vice president and fly separate flights going over (we’ll fly together as a family on the return flight–I knew I’d have to give on that one). I know, it’s silly and it’s irrational to some degree, but it’s the way it has to be for me to feel okay with it. I didn’t expect to want to return so badly but I’m so glad that we’ll both deboard the plane with Jones, officially making him a US citizen. Exciting stuff and I can hardly wait to know when we’ll return!