What do you think would be the best birthday you could ever have. Well, today was my birthday and I can't imagine spending it any other way. I was fortunate enough to be in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It's a 3rd world country and Addis Ababa is very much 2nd world. There are approx 25 million people in Addis Ababa with another 2 million moving into Addis Ababa every year. Yet today I felt like it was all about me.
I woke up a little bit earlier today to get ready to meet Joel. We went and finished my eye appt at the eye clinic. It cost another 15 birr ($.75 USD). I received a script and then we went looking for contact lenses. We found one place in a mall but they didn't have any for my Rx in stock and said it'd be 3 weeks to order them. We found another place called Vision Express near the Edna Mall. They squeezed me in for a contact fitting and had contacts in stock. The doctor spoke excellent English and was very well educated. I would recommend him to anyone needing an optometrist. All of his equipment was the latest and it was quick, maybe 20 minutes, in and out. He did everything that I typically have done in the states. The contact fitting, contact script, and one month supply was 470 birr ($70 USD). In the states without insurance all of this would've cost me approx $300. I told Joel that God used him to give me the gift of sight for my birthday. It's been so long since I've had contacts and I've been wearing some really old glasses that are all scratched up from the camera. :) It's great to see clearly again.
After that we met up with the rest of the family at the Care Center. Joel didn't know how to get there so I had to try to direct him. If you aren't familiar with the streets of Addis Ababa, pull up Google Maps and take a look. Not only are they every which way, there are very few road signs and most of roads look very similar. Joel knew where the All-Mart was so we started from there. I know what you're thinking, why not call the care center? We actually did think of that and did try it but the calls weren't going through. So we started driving. I was able to remember the entire way from All-Mart and we saw the IAN sign from the street and found the care center. Just as we were knocking on the door of the care center Joel's phone started ringing. It was Pop Pop calling to give us directions to the center and see where we were. :)
We had an amazing time with baby sister. Connie laid down on the floor on her back and let baby girl lay on her tummy. They had great eye contact time and baby girl just snuggled in to Connie. When I got there Connie had me do the same. So I laid down on the floor and had baby on my chest. She snuggled in and grabbed my hand with hers. Within a couple of minutes her eyes started drooping and she fell asleep on my chest. It was very sweet. After several minutes I picked her up and put her in her crib.
We were all hungry by now so we headed out to lunch. We had to make a quick stop at All-mart on the way, I was suppose to stay in the car. Hmmm, I wonder what they're doing. lol I had to use the Shint Bet (bathroom, translated as Pee House). So I wondered off on my own and found one and then waited outside of the All-Mart while they did their secret surprise birthday stuff. I bought myself a treat while waiting and sat on the front step eating my chocolate creme cookies and drinking some water.
Everyone finally finished up and we loaded into the car. Next stop, lunch. We decided on Avanti which is an amazing Italian Restaurant. It's the best Italian food I've ever had and the restaurant was as classy and beautiful as most of our upper end restaurants. We all shared each others dishes and I'd have to say, they were all equally amazing. And it only cost about $42 USD. A meal like that in the states would've easily been $80-$100. After our meal they turned on a birthday song on the radio and brought our the small cakes that we'd bought at the store. They put the cakes on long rectangle plates and drizzled strawberry sauce on it to make it a beautiful presentation. Everyone was clapping and having fun. It was a great birthday lunch.
Then we decided to head downtown to the new Edna Mall area and do some walking around. We walked through the mall and Joel took me to a shoe shop that he likes. I like a lot of the styles of the shoes but when I tried them on, they didn't have a lot of arch support and weren't comfortable to walk in. So I decided not to get any shoes. Instead, Joel both some for himself. :) Then we ventured out and stopped for some coffee which was a coffee/cupcake shop right next to the Vision place I'd gone to earlier today. We sat and had macchiatos and Emily had a strawberry smoothie. It was nice and relaxing and helped wake us up a bit.
We came back to the hotel and it was starting to clear up. A beautiful full rainbow appeared. You could see both ends of it and it was gorgeous. I couldn't find an angle to capture it with my camera without getting my camera wet. So it'll have to remain in our heads at this time. Maybe we'll get another opportunity.
|Locals outside Care Center|
Pop pop, Connie and Emily had a challenge getting to the care center as well. Our driver from IAN had a mechanical problem with his van and wasn't able to pick them up. So the hotel provided a driver but they weren't sure were the care center was for sure. Between Pop pop, Connie and the driver, they were able to figure it out and all made it there safely as well.
|All of us with Betty|
Pop pop has made a great connection with one of the three year old girls. She insists on crawling into his lap everyday and she doesn't want to get down. Today after she sat down in his lap she grabbed his hand and wrapped his arm around her body. It was very sweet and captured all of our hearts. If there was any way for us to bring her home with us, we would.
Emily has been such a big helper to all of the nannies. She loves helping with the children and mothering them all, especially baby sister. She is going to be the best big sister ever!
After that we said our good byes to all the children in the care center. One of the older girls is always so sweet to all of us and gives us all such wonderful hugs. I'm so happy that her and her sister have a wonderful family that they'll soon be going home with. All of the children have been so sweet. We went downstairs and found an older wooden chair and had a fun little mini photo shoot with all of the children. Unfortunately I won't be able to share those photos online. But the families who are adopting those wonderful children will be able to have the photos of their children. So it's a great blessing to them.
|On their way home from school|
I had a great time sitting there watching people interact with each other and seeing them go about their days. A van pulled up with 4 women and a driver. One of the ladies got out and went into the store and within a couple minutes came back out. One of the store workers brought out two shopping carts of groceries and he loaded it into the van, then they left. It probably only took about 4-5 minutes for them. I thought that would be a great way to do your grocery shopping. Call it in and pick it up. Kind of a drive-through grocery shopping experience.
|Birthday at Avanti's|
As we were leaving, some heavy dark clouds rolled in. Just as we got to the car some heavy winds started and it began to rain. It was similar to an Idaho down pour. But here they said it was more of a spring shower for them. The rain drops were huge and the streets quickly filled with moving water. As heavy as the rain was it was hard to even see out the windshield. There isn't a lot of grass here and the ground is so dry that the ground doesn't absorb the water and it just runs off. They have a lot of problems with erosion here when it rains. Because of the lack of absorption from the ground, enough water will build up quick enough to move rocks and create rock slides.
We all ended up going to bed early and getting a great night's sleep. Today was such a gift from God and I feel so blessed to have spent my 41st birthday in Ethiopia with my family and Joel.
|Some of the care givers watching the children|
|Avanti's Mushroom Gravy Chicken|
|Avanti's Baked Tortelini|
|Avanti's Smoked Salmon & Cheese Ravioli|
|Avanti's Sampler Platter|
|Getting ready to enjoy lunch at Avanti's|
|A Rum Kahlua cake.|
|School Children. Love the blue uniforms.|
|Greek Orthodox Church|
|I see UN & Unicef vehicles all around Ethiopia|
|I like the colors in this one.|
|Near Edna Mall|
|New Construction everywhere|
|I really like this angle|
|Leaving the care center.|