africa has effectively both stolen and broken my heart all at once. the polar effect it has had on me is incredibly overwhelming. one minute i'm amazed at the strength, beauty, and resolve of these people and wooed by the incredible scenery, and the next i'm devastated by the complete and utter lack of poverty and despair.
in our brief notes frrom our agency on places to stay, things to do, and places to eat, there was an aside that said not to give the beggars money. they said it will be incredibly hard not to give change to the children, but if you do, it simply encourages them not to go to school and stay on the street and beg. i had my first test last night.
after our busy day at the orphanage we crashed out for 3 hours. after we dragged ourselves out of bed we found a restaurant we wanted to try. b said it was close enough to walk... in the dark. by ourselves. in africa. did i mention my husband is whiter than white (i know i'm not far behind, but at least i have dark
hair)? as we were walking down back
alleys in the mud to get to the main street we passed many street people. i felt
a little frightened and uncertain, but everything i'd read and seen here was
that the people were not hostile or aggressive.
once we got to the main street i loosened up a bit and was excited for a
date with b. we had a somewhat difficult
time finding the restaurant mostly due to the fact that it was on what they
call the second (our 3rd) floor of a building with no sign. however, b's map skills afforded us the
correct route. we had passed a few
beggars as we walked and although it was hard, i was able to resist the
temptation to empty my pockets. once the
restaurant was in sight we picked up our pace.
with our goal in sight, i just so happened to glance to my left. my heart quickened and my face felt hot as
the tears begin to spring forth. to my
left, on the side of the road there was a girl about 4 yrs old sitting up and
curled up at her feet were 3 tiny boys aged probably 10 months to 2. the girl and i locked eyes and she looked
down. we kept walking and my heart started pounding as i tried desperately to
get a hold of my emotion. b felt me
tense up and tried to comfort me. we
made our way into what we thought was the restaurant but was actually just a
hip bar. we sat down confused, but figured
this must be it since the guy downstairs told us it was on the second
floor. we ordered a drink but found no
food on the menu. we passed the time
with small chit chat, but b knew my heart wasn't in it. we tried to talk about why we weren't
supposed to give them money but failed miserably. at this point we realized the restaurant was actually
on the next floor up so we decided to head up. but first i pleaded with b to go
give them some money. he was hesitant,
but conceded. he got up and said 'let's
go.' i quipped, 'oh honey, i can't
go. i can't see them again... its just
too hard. can you just run down there
(block and a half away) and give them some money?' he just smiled knowing there would be no
other way for the night to continue without this errand. as i waited in the bar i was so thankful that
i married a man whose heart was as big as mine... even if you don't always see
it, those of us close to him know that behind his tough exterior is a lot of raw emotion that comes
out when you least expect it. he came
back and told me their mom was now with them and he gave them some money. a weight had been lifted. at least tonight they would sleep next to
their mom and have a full belly. i tried
not to let the reality that those sweet kids were just 4 in 4 million that were
hungry in ethiopia on that saturday night.
we woke up sunday morning to another nice breakfast and quiet time. on sundays, the orphange is closed for visitors. we knew this, but it was still hard not to be able to go again. since we weren't doing official orphange business, abraham couldn't drive us in the agency van, yet he agreed to spend the day with us touring. he met us at the lodge at 8:30 and we had our first experience in an ethiopian taxi.
we fit right in, right?!
i can't even began to describe this. there are several common modes of transport here. all ferenge take a taxi called the blue donkey which is a tiny blue 4 seater, or have a private driver. the ethiopians however, take these blue 12 passenger vans to get around. yet they don't just go when and where you want. there are routes and they only go when the van is full--- meaning 12 or more passengers. our driver abraham told us to follow his lead. we took probably 5 of these taxi's to get to get to a place called entoto. it was incredibly unnerving being in these cars. the way people drive here has no rules, very few stoplights and lots of honking. yet somehow no one is ever mad. honking is like saying, 'hello!' and they do it very freely. we almost crashed, or so i thought, at least 7 times. and the amount of pedestrians we almost clipped were too numerous to count.
people are always in the street, probably doing 40 mph here
finally we arrived to the base of the mountain where we opted to hike the 2 miles up (thank you brandon). abraham told us no family has ever asked to hike up the mountain, and by the end i could see why. it was not an easy hike, especially with the altitude.
felt pretty lame about complaining when i saw these ladies. this is their job. they trek through the mountains for a day or two collecting about this much wood, tie it to their backs and walk down... all to sell the bundle for about $3 US. 2 days of back breaking work. humbling to say the least
another mode of transport
when we finally reached the top it was well worth it. the whole city laid out before us... it was absolutely breathtaking.
abraham, our driver and new bestie over here
we toured around a bit up there. the guy that founded addis ababa had a palace and a church we could walk through as well as a historical museum. it was really cool to have abraham tell us all about the history of addis.
the orthodox church at the top of the mountain. don't look at my shorts, it was very stressful not having any shorts i felt that were long enough to wear here
it made me fall in love with this place even more. we made our way down the mountain and had a few more harebrained taxi rides and enjoyed a nice lunch with abraham. we spent the afternoon sleeping again. we woke up at 6 as abraham was coming to get us to take us to a traditional ethiopian dinner. this was by far one of the highlights of the trip. we got a taste of ethiopian food and got to watch some amazing tribal dancing and singing.
let the sharting begin!
i've got some super sweet videos to share once we get stateside-- unfortunately takes to long to upload here.
all in all another incredible day here. tomorrow proves to be even better as we get to hang with our boy and take care of some official adoption business with our agency. please pray it goes smoothly and we will have favor with the staff and authorities here.