Friday, March 16, 2007

First Day In Addis

***Again, this post was written on the trip, just not posted until now with pictures added.***

Without the jitters of meeting Meklit for the first time I thought I would do better, but as soon as I woke up the first time (at 4:30) I was done. My mind started racing about all the other kids I would meet or be reunited with, and there was nothing to do but get up.

I jumped in the shower, met Ted Burton, grabbed a cup of coffee (thanks Salina – she couldn’t sleep either) and then Ted and I headed for Layla. As I told Salina I had already met my kid, so I didn’t have to wait for Gail to come and take me somewhere, so Ted and I went to have breakfast with the kids at Layla.

That is my new favorite place ever to eat breakfast. I finally found out about the bread Marta had been trying to describe, and learned why she likes her tea 2/3 tea 1/3 sugar, which is the way they serve it at breakfast. Or you can have hot milk with lots of sugar some days.

I love to share meals with the kids. It is such a social time, and they are all there, and every meal I sit with a new group so you get a chance to talk to some kids you wouldn’t otherwise. I never want to eat breakfast in Ethiopia anywhere else.

After breakfast I played soccer with some kids, and Ted showed them how to ride his wave board. Think skateboard with only 2 wheels that freespin in any direction and the board has a pivot point in the middle so it twists and turns too. From a non-skater/skier type like me it looks impossible and like many trips to the ER waiting to happen. Needless to say he was a huge hit with the boys.

I was at Layla for ~2 ½ hours before Gail came to bring Salina to meet her little guy, and I rode back to the guest house with them and then on to pick up Meklit from her orphanage. My travel was such short notice that they had their wires crossed, so she had gone to school that day and had to be driven back to meet me. Poor thing had not much time to get ready for me, but she did great.

I met her van and she smiled at me when I called her name, then I swooped her up and smooched both cheeks like I was doing at the end of our last visit. Her smile and giggle told me she didn’t forget either. She changed out of her uniform (rabbit trail here – all the school kids in Ethiopia wear uniforms which are provided by the parents or in this case the orphanage, so why can’t we seem to pull this off in the US?!) and we were off to the guest house to start getting warmed up again.

We were going to go out for lunch, but the guest house cook had the place smelling so good that I couldn’t pass on her mesir wat, potatoes and injera. If you sign up she will make you lunch and/or dinner, and your bill at the end of your stay reflects the meals you eat as well as drinks, etc. Last time I didn’t eat at the guest house at all, but we were so tired and it smelled so good, and she had made enough for all of us, so we stayed in. So good. Nice chewy sour injera. Mmmm…

In the afternoon we hired Dawit to drive us to the Hilton’s Ethiopian Air office to verify our return tickets. If you don’t, chances are your tickets will be cancelled and you will have to buy them for a later flight. Crazy as it sounds, it is Ethiopia. Then we went shopping at 2 different stores, had everything we needed for the trip done, and went back and napped, ate dinner, and went to bed. I was so tired, and Meklit must have been too because she slept for 2 hours in the late afternoon and then slept all night.

The highlights of the day were many. First of all was getting Meklit. She is so shy, and literally won’t say a word to me. She spoke 4 words to me that I remember on my last trip, and I was so shocked that I don’t have the slightest idea what her voice sounds like. I know she understands some English, but she isn’t about to prove it to me.

Then there was meeting the kids I grew to love in December. While all of the kids are wonderful and fun, I really got to know the older ones, mostly the girls who were Marta’s friends and classmates. They were all shocked to see me, and it was fun to see their different reactions. Some were quiet and shy, while others literally jumped into my arms and hugged me for all they were worth.

Also it is always fun to get to know the other families at the guest house, and hear their stories about how we came to be sharing a roof in the middle of Ethiopia. I really hit it off with Ted, and through our conversations of the day we figured out that our stories of building our families through adoption are very similar. His daughter who came home last summer is Meklit’s close friend, and he is here visiting a very sweet 12 year old who is Marta’s friend and will come home soon. Since we live close to each other the girls will have the opportunity to remain close while growing up, and our families will certainly grow closer too. What great people.


Jenn said...

Your daughter is home! Congratulations! I am really enjoying reading of Layla and the kids. We are using AAI and I just inhale any information of the kids.

Bethany said...

I am so happy for you and your family finally being reunited. Meklit is an adorable little girl as is Marta. Maybe soon we will be off to Addis to see one of the boys in your pictures from snapfish. Erin, showed the pictures to me. Let just say that we have our eyes on one of the older boys that you took a close up of. Congratulations!