Jones seemed sleepy when we arrived. It had been a late night the night before, so we wondered if he had been woken up for our arrival. He was wearing the same clothes as the previous day which made me realize they probably sleep in their clothes. I can’t wait to buy him a set of cute PJs! Askala brought in his breakfast as we were visiting (oatmeal, or rather “porridge” in Ethiopia). He ate it and then gulped down a cup of milk aftewards, finishing it all with a smile on his face.
We brought out the play doh and he wasn’t as interested in it as he had been the bubbles and soccer ball. It had been raining outside so we stayed inside the entire hour. I was thankful that the rain had held off the day before as it would have been difficult to spend the entire day together in that small room.
After we left, we went back to the Lewi Resort and had breakfast. As Paige and I were walking out of the dining room to head back to our room, I fell face first down a small flight of steps that were wet from the rain (Note to self: Crocs are a horrible shoe choice when it’s wet outside!) It was not a graceful fall and I quickly stood up, immediatley looking around to see if anyone saw what happened! Thank God, I was safe from embarrassment and any injuries. It made me wonder what kind of care I would have received had I truly been hurt and needed medical attention. I felt like such a spoiled American for fearing that it would put a dent in my trip, that I wouldn’t receive the best treatment possible. We take so much for granted (at least I do)–it’s hard to imagine living a life without these securities we have in this country.
We spent the rest of the day watching the kids swim in the pool, playing putt putt, and then taking a boat tour on Lake Awassa to spot hippos. As we were riding out to the hippo pod, our driver pointed out a boat and said that one of the passengers was Haile Gebrsalessie, the famous Ethiopian runner. At first, I thought he said it was Haile Selassie, the deceased former emporer of Ethiopia. I was so confused until we finally realized that Gebrsalessie owns a big hotel on the lake, which is where the boat was headed.
Jones was quiet amongst the group. He would sit by himself and blow bubbles or play doh. It makes me wonder what his personality is like when he’s in his element and he doesn’t have the pressure of a new mom and dad watching his every move. Soon enough we’ll know!
We left the orphanage around 11:15 and headed back to the Lewi Resort to wait on our driver to take us to Aleta Wondo. He was 2 hours late, due to an accident that had traffic backed up. When he arrived, we knew we were going to get along with him insatntly. His nickname is “Alex” and I regret that I don’t remember his Ethiopian name, as he did tell it to me later that day. He was a very easy going, likeable guy and knew quite a bit about the country.
As we drove to Aleta Wondo, we passed lots of people carrying bundles wrapped in false banana leaves, carrying them on carts or on their head. When I inquired what they were, Alex told us it was chat. Chat is very common in Ethiopia and apparently has it’s share of controversy surrounding it. Alex is quick to defend it not being a drug, as he is a chat chewer. People chew on the leaves and it apparently has a mild narcotic effect, causing increased awareness, appetite suppression, and even insomnia. It is definitely a cultural thing but I was saddened by this being a major crop in Ethiopia. I suspect a lot of people chew it because it wards off hunger but I wish their money was spent on food instead. But then again, I don’t know what it’s like to be really hungry so I try not to judge.
When we arrived in Aleta Wondo, it was close to dark so we decided to save our trip to Common River for the next morning. We spoke with Tsegay, one of the founders, and he was very warm and welcoming. He told us the medical students were running a clinic in the town until late afternoon but we could head to Common River after that to meet everyone.
We checked into the hotel and I’m quite sure I’ll probably never pay $6/night for a room ever again in my life! And this was the tourist rate–the locals pay less! The rooms were adequate, fairly clean, and sufficient for our purposes. We paid a whopping $12 for two rooms since there is only one bed in each room. Paige and I bunked up and Larry and Aidan were next door to us. We ate an surprisingly delicious supper in the hotel’s restaurant. Paige and I split a spaghetti with tomato sauce and I would love to have been able to ask which Ethiopian spices were in the sauce. It was incredibly flavorful with a little kick. The homemade bread was outstanding and the homemade pastries weren’t too bad either. We were still only paying between $2-$3 per entree at each meal!
We headed to bed early because there wasn’t much to do otherwise! Paige and I read a loooong chapter from her Little House book and I could tell she was fading fast. She did her typical flipping and flopping all night long so between her and the call to prayer over the loud speakers in the town all night long, I hardly slept a wink. I couldn’t believe how loud it was and how the chanting never freaking ended! Larry and I both woke up with the same unspoken idea–visit Common River for the day and get the hell out of dodge to avoid another sleepless night!