It's very difficult to summarize a journey as life-changing as the one you take to travel half-way across the world to make a child waiting there part of your family. I haven't posted more about our trip because of this very difficulty...well, that and the aforementioned child who now occupies the vast majority of my time.
I figured the best way to go about finally blogging about our trip would be to go through our collection of photos (860 in all) and show some of our highlights. I apologize in advance for this scatter-shot method of chronicling our trip. When I get my book deal, things might be more thorough. And by the time that happens, Abe and any other children will be grown and out of the house, and I'll have plenty of time).
Obviously, that first photo is from the moment we first met Abe. Well, I should say, a few moments afterwards. We have a shot of the very first moment, but I can't manage to post it here. Come to my house and I'll show you. We were very much the blubbering messes.
In the days following our first meeting, we did a lot of what you see Abe and Ted doing in this photo: just staring at each other. We also liked to bump noses a lot. Abe thought this was funny, and still does.
I had to include a photo of the amazing food. This meal was one of my favorites. We found this restaurant by asking our driver one day to take us for traditional food at a place he likes. This is what we got. I highly recommend doing the same. The lentils and beets were especially delish.
I realize this one is very out of place, but I couldn't write about our trip without including a shot of our room at Yotel during our 16 hour layover in London. We decided against leaving the airport considering how god-awful expensive London is, and we couldn't have been happier to discover that we could check in at 5pm to a room at Yotel, the Japanese-style hotel that you can actually rent for four hours at a time or after 5pm for the whole night. I had hardly slept on the way over, so by the time we checked in, I was pretty ready to sleep. And sleep I did, until midnight when the alarms started going off...for a total of six times.
Because Yotel is located within the basement of terminal 4 of Heathrow, there are no windows anywhere to alert you to anything weird or awful going on outside, so all the rooms are equipped with red flashing lights and a calm voice telling you to "evacuate immediately." After the third time, Ted decided that the best tactic would be to go out into the hallway and yell "Make it stop!!" over the alarms since everyone was up anyway.
I somehow managed to go right back to sleep, though I did get to hear the nice Polish manager apologizing to everyone for "the malfunctioning alarm and for the yelling." Yotel feels very stark, white, and futuristic, so we felt ready for the calm voice to start telling us that "the infected" are coming and to abandon all hope of survival (28 Days Later reference).
Despite the malfunctioning alarms and yelling, I heartily recommend Yotel. The beds were beyond comfy; the rooms were warm; there were flat-screen TVs and movies to watch (though we didn't); and you get to take a shower. I felt fully clean and rested for our next day's all-day flight to Addis.
More food pictures. When food is as interesting as Ethiopian food, it's hard to resist taking lots of pictures. We were there during the time of fasting, so most Ethiopians were not eating any meat products. Here are the remains of Belay's fish from their fasting meal.
Here is a video of the dancing at the traditional restaurant, and another one can be found here.
When I first read in There is No Me Without You that popcorn is a prominent part of the coffee ceremony, I thought it a bit odd. I still don't eat popcorn with my coffee here in the U.S., but it somehow really works with the strong, sweet, black coffee you're served in Ethiopia. I can eat popcorn every stinkin' day, so I had a hard time not hogging the whole bowl here.
The experience of visiting the Kolfe home for boys is...difficult to put into words. Many other bloggers have done a much better job than I could ever do. These boys are precious beyond words. One of the boys had taken in this puppy, and I don't think I've ever seen a dog more attached to its owner than this puppy.
This young man stuck to us the whole time we were there, and we so enjoyed talking with him. He was so gentle and sweet to Abe, as were all the boys.
These are all faces we encountered on the day we visited the government-run orphanages. By far, this was the most exhausting day of the trip, yet also one of the best. We were so captured by these children. They were so engaging and open, so absolutely wonderful. We couldn't help wondering about the future...
I can't resist ending with this shot that we caught in traffic. Apparently, he's popular over there. This wasn't the only bumper sticker like this we saw.
We took a lot of photos of the city as well, so keep checking in for part II.