I wanted to share our experience of staying at the guest house while in Addis, maybe with a little bit of opinion and recommendation along the way.
The official name is the Ritmo Guest House, but since I don't know what Ritmo has to do with it, it is just the AAI guest house to me. I love it there, and I think that the guest house is part of the reason we had such a great time in Addis.
We have been on 3 adoption trips - 2 to China and the latest to Ethiopia - and I will take the guest house over 5 Star Chinese hotels any day. It is more like an older vacation rental house, but with the purpose of the trip and the location of the house relative to Layla House, it couldn't be more perfect.
The house consists of about 6 bedrooms of various sizes, which share community bathrooms except the big room that has its own.
Marta and I stayed in the "Blue Room", which you can probably guess about the name.
There is a community family room with TV, VCR, couch, table & chairs, laptop and board games. Great place to hang out, play games and relax.
There is also a small kitchen that is perfect for staying a week or more there. The fridge is stocked with bottled water, soda, eggs and whatever people before you have left behind. There is fresh bread, fruit and all the spices you can imagine.
We all ate breakfast at the guest house each day, and had machiattos delivered from the Merry Fam. They are ~ $0.12 each, and to die for, so you can't go wrong.
There are 3 or 4 restaurants within 2 blocks or so of the guest house, so food is easy and very cheap to get, and there are enough options for the kids to keep them happy. One new one is about a 10 minute walk up hill from the guest house at the Adams Pavilion. It is on about the 3rd floor, and the balcony looks back towards the guest house. Great food for ~$4 or less served on the patio/balcony, with fancier fare and higher prices inside. The doro tibs are worth the walk. On the first floor of Adams is a coffee shop like Starbucks, and on the 3rd is an office supply store with decent internet access.
Layla house is just a 5 minute walk away, so very easy to get back to visit friends, hang out with the kids, go for parties and field trips, and other events too.
The best reason to stay at the guest house? The people. No doubt about it. While we were there there were 4 other families, some for the entire week, others for a day or two. The sense of community was so much fun, and the support and break from us parents was surely welcomed by the kids.
We made up a pretty strange guest house I would think, with boys 17, 15, 13 & 5, and girls 13, 4 & ~8 months.
The kids had a great time with each other, were very helpful with the younger ones, and we were all able to hang out together, in small groups, or go our separate ways as we pleased. There were always others wanting to go to Layla with you, or to eat, so you felt like you were all in it together, which I really enjoyed.
I couldn't imagine being there and staying somewhere else. The convenience coupled with the closeness to other families and their kids is so much better than crisp sheets and room service. With a baby you have others to help, and a stove and kitchen which have to make the whole bottle thing much easier. With younger kids who may be difficult to communicate with there is the chance of older kids being there to help in EVERY way - these older kids are amazing with the younger ones. And with older kids they are close to get back to Layla and visit, and are such a delight for everyone to be around.
I am so thankful for the families who were with us at the guest house. So thank you Andrew, Alicia, Sarah, Rebekah & brother, Sandra, Rick and all of your amazing children.
Now that I have said all of that, I may not stay at the guest house next time. I have been invited to stay at the girls aunt's house when I return to bring Meklit home in a month or two, and will have to consider that.