Saturday, March 30, 2013

Rick's Ramblings - Day 4 - Sat, 3/30/2013

We have to be up and headed out the door by 6a to go to the Nile Gorge.  So today I'm only going to post photos and captions.  Enjoy and look forward to a great read tomorrow.

Marketing Photo for Joel

Old 35mm Minolta cameras.  Any collectors out there?

Building a new rail system

The kid on the right kept taking our photo while our driver was asking directions.  They were all laughing and having fun, then I pulled out my DSLR and took their photos.  I think the expressions of the two on the left says it all.

Emily was resting on the stool and I wanted her photo.  The shop keeper told me  to wait and he brought her the ball and the hat.  Very cute

Amazing Indian Food.  When you come to Ethiopia go here.

Dining at Jewel of India

at Jewel of India Restaurant

Broncos are popular even in Ethiopia

At the Zoo

Lions, monkeys and antelope

Not sure why the pouty face here, but still cute

Chewing Banana gum that Joel bought her

Every where she goes, new friends

Holy Trinity Church

More Marketing for Joel

No words to explain the beauty

My lovely bride

She struck this pose on her own.  I just told her where to stand

She was in rare form with posing today

I think I need to make this one B&W

Friday, March 29, 2013

Rick's Ramblings - Day 3 - Fri, 3/29/2013

We went the entire day without any internet.  All of Addis Ababa was without internet today.  It just came back up this evening.  So I’m thankful that we have some connection with everyone back home again.   

Breakfast with Joel
We did have an incredible day.  We all woke up between 4a-5a and were wide awake.  So we took our time getting ready for the day.  We went up for a great continental breakfast here at that hotel.  Our guide Joel joined us and we had a great time getting acquainted more.  He even taught us a few words in Aramaic.

After breakfast we exchanged our single bed room for one with two beds.  We’re now on the fourth floor and the stairs are wearing us all out.  :)  This higher altitude and the heat I think is having it’s toll.  But I’m sure it’ll get easier as the week continues.  They do have an elevator but it’s only big enough for about two adults comfortably.  Any more than that and it’s a group hug.

After getting settled into our new room we decided on going around town and visiting some of the markets and shops.  There are shops everywhere you look here.  Joel took us to the more reputable ones that he shops at.  

Connie Making a Scarf
Our first stop was the Former Women's Fuelwood Carriers Association.  They make beautiful scarves.  Connie got to sit down at one of the looms and learn how to make a scarf.  She worked it quite well.  We tried to get Emily to try but she was too shy at the time.  However, Emily did insist on going over and seeing the kids in the school.  They were kindergarteners and were working on counting to 60 in both English and Aramaic.  Emily would've loved to stay and do school and play with them.  We were fortunate enough to be able to go into the classroom and sit there for several minutes as observers.

While walking from shop to shop we were approached by more than 20 different street vendors who didn’t have shops there.  They aren’t suppose to be there and the police would scare them away with sticks.  Sometimes they’d use the stick lightly to get their attention and show that they meant business.  We’re so thankful for our guide Joel.  He really helped us negotiate and get some great deals on items.  Negotiating is expected and is a lot of fun, for the first few hours.  :)

Buying Some Fruit
Emily and Joel became fast friends today and they played a lot.  He’s great with kids and said that there are several children Emily’s age in his home.  His entire family lives in the same house (Parents & 8 Children, plus spouses and their children).  He says that he loves being a part of a big family and loves all of his nieces and nephews.

We stopped for a late lunch at Lucy’s (next to the Ethiopian National Museum) and had an amazing chicken and artichoke pizza.  Joel ordered injera (spongy sourdough flatbread), qocho (made from a fake banana plant, tastes similar to flattened bread) and kitfo (a spicy minced beef) and shared it all with us.  The kitfo was spicy but very good and he showed me how to dip it in the berbere (spicy chili powder) which added a nice touch.  Emily loved the Injera as well, but wasn’t so keen on the kitfo that was with it.  We all enjoyed one their traditional St George beers that Ethiopia is famous for.  It was very smooth and I actually enjoyed the taste.  I’m not a beer drinker and usually don’t enjoy it.  But this was very pleasant and I’d drink it again with a meal.  Emily and I also shared a strawberry milkshake that was amazing.  Excellent food at Lucy’s and I’d highly recommend it.

Chicken Avacado Pizza
After lunch we went to a travel agency that was recommended to us for purchasing tickets to Dire Dawa.  The only dates they had available were the two days prior to court.  So we’re not going to be able to make it out to baby sisters birth town.  We really wanted to make it there but it’s too close to court and we can’t risk missing court.  So we will be back someday to make a trip to Dire Dawa and enjoy this amazing culture again.

Mall in Bolle
After that we went back out to find some dresses for the girls.  We went to a mall in the section of town called Bolle.  There was a section of the mall that was packed with dresses and shirts.  There were probably at least 20 vendors in this pit that was long and narrow.  There was room for about 1.5 people to walk side by side.  The women kept saying “Mister, mister” as they’d show me shirts or dresses for Connie.  It was hard to find what you really liked and even harder to turn down what you didn’t.  They were all very persistent.  Emily slept through the entire experience on pop pop’s lap at the edge of the store.  She was very tired after all the running around and over stimulation in the markets.

We finally headed home after the mall and we are all exhausted.  Pop pop, Connie and Emily passed out right away.  I wanted to but I knew you’d all be excited for an update and to hear from us.  I took a ton of photos today and below are a few of them.  At some point I’ll post more.  I took a few video clips today too that I’m hoping to edit and add soon as well.  So stay tuned for those.

Addis View Hotel

Drying Red Chili Peppers

Emily making friends everywhere we go

Connie trying on one of several dresses

Larry, Moe & Curley

Livestock run free on the streets and everywhere

Emily Fitting in 

Eucalyptus scaffolding used during construction

Emily watching a lady spin thread

Its been a long day
Pop Pop and Emily in their new African threads

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Larger Panoramic of Addis Ababa

Click on image to view larger

Rick's Ramblings - Day 2 - Wed, 03/27/2013

What a short night.  After four hours of sleep, the alarm went off to wake up and go have some breakfast before going to the airport.  We were up at 6am and everyone did a great job getting up and ready for the day.  Emily is such a great traveler.  She didn’t complain about having only 4 hours of sleep at all.  She was excited to get going.

Waking up in DC
We stayed at the Hampton Inn Suites near the Dulles Airport.  We were expecting a 6a wakeup call that we got at 6:30a, I’m glad that I thought of setting my phone alarm.  :)  But they did have a great continental breakfast and it was a great place to stay the night.  Our shuttle driver was very polite and very excited for us and we talked with him the entire way to the airport.  We had no problems navigating our way through the airport and the officers at the security check were very friendly and kept interacting with Emily.  Emily and I went through just the metal detectors and Connie and Gary got to go through the full-body scanners.  We were at our gate a good 1.5 hours ahead of time.  We met a few amazing people while we sat there and were able to share our story with them.  They were all very excited for us and shared their stories as well.  

Ethiopian Airlines
Our plane was delayed arriving at Dulles by about 30 minutes and the gentleman sitting next to me said that was normal. “Always late” he said with a smile.  Connie said that she will fit right in.  :)

It doesn’t matter how much entertainment you have, 12 hours on a flight is a long time.  :)  But we made it to Ethiopia safely.  Emily did great but she kept us awake most of the flight.  She didn’t want to sleep at all and every 20-30 minutes she’d ask if we were there yet.  We flew on Ethiopian airlines and it was the best service I’ve ever had on any flight.  The flight attendants always had smiles and were so polite.  The food was good and there were lots of amenities like complimentary wine and beer with dinner.  Meals were always followed by tea, coffee and additional drinks.  Before serving breakfast they passed out hot wipes to use for cleaning your face and hands.  They also had complimentary toothbrush, toothpaste, compression socks, sleeping mask, blanket and pillow for each passenger as you got on the plane.  Each seat has it’s own little tv with several movies, music and flight information to choose from.  There was no turbulence and for a 12 hour flight we endured quite well.  

Here are a few fun facts about our flight:

  • Altitude: 37,000 feet
  • Ground Speed: 600-607 mph
  • Outside Air Temperature: -74 f
  • Aircraft: 767-300
We also learned that Addis Ababa means New Flower and is considered by most The Political Capitol of Africa.

We’ve made many friends on the flight.  We will be keeping in touch with many of them.  We’ve had a great experience so far and are looking forward to embracing the Ethiopian culture.  

First Day in Addis
After arriving at the airport we got our Visas and were allowed entry into this amazing country.  So far we've been shown great hospitality and courtesy.  Praise God that all of our luggage made it!  Just a side note but I find it interesting that every time we go to a different country the baggage carts are free to use.  But in the states they cost $3 each.   We piled two of them full and then put a very tired Emily up on top.  I would've liked to have joined her.

Then we proceeded to customs.  Note to self, camera good idea, tripod bad idea.  They weren't very happy that I brought a tripod with me in my checked luggage.  I didn't understand why but something about needing a signed letter.  I only brought it so that we could get a group shot of all of us with baby sister.  Next time it's staying behind for sure.  :)  But they did let us through with it and everything is good.

We called our hotel, the Addis View Hotel, and they came and picked us up.  They were very quick and Benjamin (I think he pronounced it Ben-ya-men) was a great driver.  Driving through the city you are overwhelmed with the smell of smoke, gasoline and grease along with some amazing spices.  I don't think it helped that I wasn't feeling well.  I don't do well without sleep.  My body gets all discombobulated (I develop a headache, easily overheat and become nauseous).  

We got checked into our hotel and they helped us carry our luggage up a few flights of stairs to the  second floor.  It's really a nice room but only has one bed and a couch.  So they brought up a cot so we'd all have a restfully sleep.  Tomorrow we move into a room with two beds.  :)  Apparently our reservation didn't quite have the right dates for our stay. 

Selah Guest House Tour
Connie has met a couple of American missionaries, Levi & Jessie Benkert with Bring Love In.  She has become to know them through Facebook and connections she's made.  They have a new guest house on the outskirts of town.  Connie is thinking of staying there with baby girl if she stays here on her own after court.  Eyuel (pronounced Joel) is a guide who came highly recommended to us.  We met him at our hotel and he took us out to the guest house.  He is a great guy whose going to school part time to get a degree in Computer Science.  He wants to work doing special effects for movies.  I'll be keeping his dreams in my prayers.

Driving through Ethiopia is similar to what we experienced in Guatemala.  Horns are used all the time and it's not considered to be rude.  They honk for lots of reasons but it's mostly a "here I am" kind of thing.  They also are all gas or all brake.  I read that there are approx 25 million people in Addis Ababa and that it's growing by 2+ million a year.  For that many people I expected more traffic, but it was more like a Sunday in Boise. Most people walk everywhere.  I didn't notice many bicycles or motorcycles around town.  All of the main roads are paved and the side roads are dirt.  The people seem to be very up beat and enjoy conversation.  Everywhere you look there are people selling things and open markets.  

We met Thomas, who works with Levi & Jessie, and we followed him into the guest house.  There he gave us the grand tour.  It is a beautiful guest home in a new neighbor hood.  If I'd been feeling better I'd have taken lots of photographs.  It has tile everywhere and a beautiful little courtyard in front with flowers and grass (not a lot of lawn type grass here).  The house can hold groups with 20+ people and it is used to house a lot of mission teams.  They have staff that live there 24/7 and a world renowned chef.  We all fell in love with it.  The cost to stay there is only 1/3 the cost of the hotel.

Good Night
I became so exhausted that I became sick while at the guest house.  So we came back to the hotel and I laid down in bed for some much needed rest.  Connie and Pop Pop took Emily and went to get some food.  I'm feeling better after having a few hours sleep but am still exhausted.  I knew you'd all need an update and want to know that we're doing great and made it in safely.  I'm going to go cuddle up with Connie and Emily and try to sleep through the night.  They are both sound asleep.

We love and miss you all and can't wait to share more of our journey.  We are going to be traveling to Dire Dawa in the next day or two and have a couple of touristy things to do.  I'm hoping to have the camera out and get some photos while I'm here.  Today I wasn't up for it, too tired.  But Connie and Emily took a few photos.  I hope you enjoy them.  :)

Panoramic of Addis Ababa from the Airport