Friday, June 3, 2011

Travel Journal: Day 4

May 21, 2011

HH, Makush, & Shopping

Dear Lil Miss,

We had a better night of sleep last night and woke up excited to go back to Hannah’s Hope and see you again!  The moments we aren’t with you, we’re gazing at your pictures.  You are never far from our minds. 
Our internal “wake-up call” went off at 6am.  We got up, planned our outfits and what we needed to take to Hannah’s Hope, took some more freezing showers, and got ready.  I tell ya, these cold showers are becoming our morning giggle fest!  It is ridiculously cold – I’m shivering just thinking about doing it all over again in the morning!

After getting ready for our day we headed down to breakfast.  Some of the families had eaten already, but we still had friends to sit and talk with.  =)  We’re already getting bored of the buffet, but the omelets are pretty good and we’ve figured out to ask for coffee with milk – otherwise it is WAY too strong for even the devout coffee lovers here!  =)  We’re beginning to notice little details like the designs they leave in the froth of our coffee!  Mine had a heart and someone else had an apple!  DADDY even ordered coffee today!  We were all a little worried how the caffeine would affect him, but he was a rockstar!  =) 

It wasn’t long after breakfast that Wass showed up to take us to Hannah’s Hope!  We ran upstairs to get our last minute things and hopped on in the van.  The roads are beginning to look more familiar now…and for the most part, I’m STILL not shocked about the driving!  There were a couple incidents in other parts of Addis today that we were taking a left turn onto several lanes of traffic (no stop lights, of course) but I think when you go in to this mentally prepared for the differences in driving, its less scary.  Or maybe that's just me.

The exterior of HH

The other side

Above the gates of HH

Our trusty van we spent MANY hours in! =)

The gates to HH
When we arrived at Hannah’s Hope, the Lamz family stuck around to take pictures in front of the infamous gates with us – I’ve been looking forward to this shot for a LONG time…now if only you were with us on the other end we would be THRILLED!  When we went in to go find you, we found all the babies still upstairs in their rooms.  When we walked into the ladybug room (where you sleep), all the babies were wide awake except for you!  Aww…it was the sweetest sight!  You look so peaceful as you sleep.  But I must admit that it took every ounce of strength I had not to pick you straight up.  I tried to be patient and take pictures of other kids, but after your special mother noticed I was videotaping the rising of your chest and planting kisses on your little cheeks she gave me permission to wake you!  =)  I didn't hesitate to pick you up.  You snuggled right into my chest before stretching and slowly opening your eyes.  But instead of fear, this time it was a familiarity and it was only a matter of seconds before that beautiful smile spread across your face again!  I called for daddy (who was snapping pictures in the next room) to tell him you were awake and it wasn’t long before you were smothered in kisses and affection again.  The special mothers began to take all the babies downstairs, so the three families in that room took advantage of the alone-time to take pictures together!  We got mamas with all the babies and then daddies with all the babies and then little family shots.  You were SO happy and kept GRINNING for the camera so we decided to video a little message for your brother as well!  Hopefully it works to email it to him later. 

All the baby girls and their mamas!

AND their daddies!

It didn’t take long for that room to begin to feel like a sauna because the sun was shining directly through the little window above your crib.  That’s when we decided to take the baby party outside!  Best thing we ever did!  For one, being away from your special mother made it easier for you to bond with us.  Although we love the special mother’s DEARLY, your eyes would immediately go to follow them if they walked by or if you heard their familiar voice.  Separating you from that helped for us to get to know each other a little better.
Another family had laid the mat out in the courtyard to play on, so we decided to join them in the glorious sunshine.  Then we got the idea to do a mini photo shoot right then and there – good thing mama planned ahead!  I pulled a tutu, headband and big bow out of daddy’s bag and began playing dress-up for the first time with my little princess! =)  This time you DIDN’T cry when I put the headband in your hair (just proving that the first time you were overwhelmed and tired)!  You looked so sweet and adorable – we ALL were oooing and awing over you!  But the tutu took it one step further!  We started out with you in the boppy, but the tutu wasn’t sticking out right…it was more sticking in your face, and you kept trying to stuff it in your mouth!  That’s when mama started lifting you in the air like an airplane – you smiled SO big and wide!!!  Unfortunately, none of the photographs turned out quite as fantastic (meaning professional quality - but what can you expect from a bunch of amateurs with a nice camera?) as we had hoped, but we’ll try again =)  Mama was so happy to see you can pull off the “girly girl” look with charm!

After leaving so much of your skin exposed, you started to get goosebumps…so I got you redressed and wrapped you up in the moby and blanket to give you a bottle and a nap.  I’m starting to learn your cues, so each time it gets easier and easier and you fight it less.  Oh – it’s wonderful to be your mama!  Our entire travel group had their babies sleeping while we were outside chatting.  It was such a blast and a great way to connect and get to know everyone!  We are all SO much alike, and all have young kids at home…so we could all sympathize with each other.  Also, our babes all came in to Hannah’s Hope on the same day, and were all pretty close in age (just weeks apart).  You babies are going to be besties FOREVER, I just KNOW it!!!

Can't wait to show off these adorable expressions!

Underneath this heart is the biggest smile you have ever seen!

Drool-worthy =)

Where we hung out every day from this day on!

In LOVE with those feet!

Measuring your foot with my finger!

While you were all cozy in my arms/the Moby…Wass came up and told us it was time to go.  I was about ready to CRY because I was enjoying the moment so much.  But I was so thankful for the playful day we had shared together!  Daddy and I walked upstairs together (you still in your Moby) to your room, where he helped unwrap you from the Moby so I could lay you down in your crib.  I planted about a million kisses on you before he dragged me away.  I couldn’t completely argue, because we were headed out shopping – but for the first time in my life I could have cared less, I just wanted to be there with you.  But alas…off to the van we went.

Diaper laundry

Just the baby clothes from the day before!

Where the special mother's clean their feet, their shoes,  bins, ect.

Toys drying in the sun

T's little pink dress from the day before!

Baby house

Pics taken through a window, so please forgive the quality!
We drove deep into Addis, and I was so thankful for the opportunity to see more of the city.  As Wass (our driver) drove around sharp corners, turning onto busy highways with no stoplights, and narrowly avoided squashing pedestrians like pancakes on the side of the road, we snapped a ton of pictures out the windows of the van!  We saw well developed areas and enormous architectural buildings mingled in with incomprehensible poverty.  We saw men walking the streets in a full suits, women carrying babies on their backs and hard at work, and children by themselves.  While stopped in some traffic, a woman came running up to our van with a baby in her arms and reached out desperate.  A fellow traveler put some money in her hand and soon we were surrounded by beggars.  We had to close our windows and act aloof when it drew the attention of the local police, all the while our hearts were breaking and tears streaming down our faces.  We would see teenagers in the latest trendy clothes and hairstyles, and next to them walked a woman in traditional dress.  Two completely different ends of the spectrum.  

Beauty salons were everywhere!

People set up shop along all the roads

Ethiopian Law Enforcement (btw, we're cutting across all lanes of traffic here to take a left =)

It was a lengthy drive, but a worthwhile experience. 

Makush was right in the city center, next to a supermarket and film store.  We walked up a couple flights of stairs, admiring the beautiful artwork and then were seated at a large table in the dining area.  This must be the place to go because there were several other adoptive families in the restaurant!  I wasn’t sure what to expect at an Italian restaurant in Ethiopia, but it tasted quite authentic!  Daddy and I split a pizza and a pasta dish.  This was an amazing opportunity to get to know the AGCI staff a little better – Wass and Tsige are both such amazing people and having this time with them they really came out of their shell!  This restaurant was also an art gallery and every wall was lined with stunning pieces all centered around Ethiopian culture!  We knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so when a specific piece caught BOTH our attention, we knew it was coming home with us!  =)  I only wish we had taken a picture before they rolled it up and packaged it to come home with us. 
The stairs up to Makush - In love with that bench!

Some of the amazing art pieces to choose from!

LOVED this too =)

Next it was on to shopping.

I know this isn't the best pic of me ;)  I didn't have much to
choose from =)
When we drove up to the shopping center, we noticed it was no more than a street lined with tiny shops.  When we stepped out, we were immediately approached by a very young begging mother breastfeeding her child and an elderly man selling maps.  Stepping in and out of each store there were swarms of people (mostly children) trying to sell you hand-carved toothbrushes, small packs of gum, maps, sunglasses, Bibles…and then several just begging for money or some food to eat (and one boy asked for a pair of shoes for school, we found out later he was sponsored by HH).  Each and every face was beautiful and kind and desperate.  I wish there was some way we could help every single one.  But you give something to one person and you have ten more people blocking your next step who need something too.  There was no way we could give to all, but there was no way we could give to none either. 

Traditional clothes
It was definitely nothing like shopping in America!  And it was much harder than I had anticipated – I don’t think any amount of exposure to circumstances like this ever gets you “used” to it.  Regardless, we did find some fun things to take home that we will CHERISH!  Things that will help us infuse some Ethiopian culture into our everyday life, and things we can gift to you in the coming years:

A couple traditional dresses for you, in several sizes
A traditional outfit for your big brother
A traditional dress for mama
(Daddy didn't find one he liked...yet)
An Amharic Bible
Salad servers with giraffes carved into the handles
Magazine bead necklace
Ethiopian cross necklace
Ethiopian nativity 
Two small hand drum for big brother
A scarf

(Daddy things I went crazy....but don't tell him that I haven't even scratched the surface ;)  The mama's are already planning a shopping day for the daddy's on the second trip, while we hang out with our babies in the hotel =)

On the way home, we all shared our experiences with the people there as well as our finds at the shops.  Of course EACH of us noticed SOMETHING that the other had bought that we wished we would have as well!  But I suppose that you can’t remember everything in only an hour. 

Once we got the area of Addis we all recognized, Wass asked if we all wanted to go back to Hannah’s Hope.  “YES!!!!” we all cried, but as he drove past the turn we all yelled at him for joking with us.  Even though I was seriously heartbroken, I couldn’t resist a smile as Wass’ laughter filled the van!  It’s simply contagious (and also a little evil, lol!).

And that, my dear, ended a beautiful day in Ethiopia!  Our evening simply consisted of uploading pictures to Facebook and emailing family.

Until tomorrow…


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