Monday, May 13, 2013

Ethiopia Trip Part #1

I have been SO busy since we returned from Ethiopia. Two weddings to prepare for (and my sister's is in just two weeks!), three showers to plan, a bachelorette party to plan, school projects to grade, my mom's retiring, and we had a bit of paperwork to do for our adoption. Most of these things are taking place in less than three weeks. Whew! It's been crazy around here. I thought I would take a few minutes to write about our trip...otherwise, I will never do it.

On our way home from Ethiopia I spent about an hour writing down exactly what we did in Ethiopia for Zeri. I knew I would forget bits and pieces if I didn't write it down on the plane. I'm going to break this down into a couple of parts because it's too much to write in one post. Happy reading!:)

On Tuesday, April 16 Jeremiah and I went to work like normal. That night my parents came over, ate dinner with us, and then took Olivia to their house. Jeremiah and I rarely leave Olivia. We just love being with her and it was very hard telling her goodbye! We knew that she was in good hands, but we also knew how much we would miss her. After they left, we finished packing our bags and we headed to Indy. We could barely sleep this night! We woke up at 3:15a.m. and left for the airport at 3:45a.m. Jeremiah checked himself in, but we had problems checking me in. For some reason they did not have a ticket for me! You know me...I stress way too easily, so I just started praying right away. Jeremiah confessed later that he was pretty nervous too. It took the United workers over an hour to find my ticket! They finally found issued me a ticket and told us to check in right away when we got to Washington D.C. The workers told us they were *pretty sure* Ethiopian airlines would have a ticket for me. We just prayed again that everything would go smoothly and it did!

Before we packed our bags for this trip we bought special carry-on bags. We measured our bags to make sure they were the correct dimensions because we heard that sometimes Ethiopian airlines misplaces bags during flights. So, Jeremiah and I both packed every piece of our clothing for the trip in our carry-on bags. We also took 3 suit cases full of donations and we each took a small bag for items we wanted to use on the plane. After we checked in (and finally got my ticket) the clerk said that our bags were a little too big for carry-on. The lady told us she would let us slide this time because of what we just went through-whew!

By the time Jeremiah and I entered the waiting area we only had about a 1/2 hour before we boarded the plane. This is when reality set in that we were actually going to Ethiopia to meet our baby boy!! Jeremiah and I left Indy around 6:00a.m. and landed in Washington D.C. around 8:00 a.m. We immediately went to Ethiopian airlines to check in (and there were already at least 20 people in line ahead of us!) and thankfully they had a ticket for me. But...when we got to the desk we saw they were weighing the carry-on bags and I just knew they were going to take our bags. We got up to the desk and they weighed my bag and it was fine!! It was one pound over, but they told me it was fine. Jeremiah's was about three pounds over so they told him to check it. We quickly transferred Jeremiah's cameras, lenses, and a few other things over to my bag, checked his bag, and prayed that we would see it in Africa.

We had a nice time just hanging out at the airport and then boarded the plane for Ethiopia around 11:00a.m. We left at 11:30a.m. and the flight was fine. Jeremiah and I ended up moving up to seats that had quite a big of leg room and it was much nicer than our other seats. The flight was about 13 1/2 hours and it seemed like it was longer  (the flight home actually went much faster to us!). I think the anticipation made it seem longer. As we flew into Ethiopia I started to become antsy. I kept telling Jeremiah, "Oh my gosh..we are in the SAME city as our boy!!!" It was seriously like a dream.

When we landed in Ethiopia is was Thursday morning in Ethiopia. After we went through Customs, we converted our money to Birr and then got our bags. We went to find our driver and we couldn't find him. Finally, after about 30 minutes of looking for him we saw a van drive by and they asked us if we were from CHI. They were our drivers. The entire time we were there we had the same guide named Daniel. He was AMAZING and really took care of us (way beyond what we thought he would do!).

As we drove through Addis we just took in the sights. I love to people watch and it was fun for me to watch everyone as we drove through the city. It only took about 20 minutes and we were at our Guest House. We stayed at the Addis Guest House. The Guest House owner lived in America for over 15 years and he was just wonderful. They took such great care of us and we look forward to staying there again!

After settling in to our room we told our tour guide that we wanted to go to Mt. Entoto. We saw some breathtaking views of the city as we made our way up to Mt. Entoto. Here we visited an Orthodox Church and the Emperor's house. We also went to a museum. It was interesting to learn a little about Ethiopia's culture. When we were finished our driver took us to the bottom of the mountain so that we could shop a little. To be honest, this was a very stressful situation for me. I've been to Mexico and bartered with people. This was different. The people in the shops were extremely helpful, but then there were people from the streets trying to sell us items as well. I told Daniel that we needed to leave. As we left people kept asking us for money and they were literally holding on to our van as we drove away.

Then we went to a place called Avanti for lunch. Daniel had lunch with us and it was fabulous time. We asked Daniel questions about Ethiopia and all of our food was delicious. We left there and went back to our room. We really wanted to Facetime Olivia and it was good for this mommy's heart to see her sweet little face.

About an hour later, we were just exhausted. We knew if we went to bed at 4:30p.m. we would wake up super early the next morning. So, we decided to call our driver and ask him to take us to a little shop.   We went to this shop called Salem's and it was really neat. There was a group of American people from North Carolina there. They were beyond thrilled when they asked us why we were there and we told them we were adopting. It was just what we needed that day. We picked up a few baskets and some linens from this shop. We saw the workers weaving the baskets and it was just a cool experience.

We ended up going back to the Guest House about 6:00p.m. and we tried to go to sleep around 7:30p.m. We wanted to be rested to meet our son the next day. We both ended up waking up around 1:00a.m. and we couldn't go back to sleep. The time change and altitude difference really messed with us! But..we were running on adrenaline and we didn't care. We couldn't stop smiling because today was the day we were going to meet Zeri!!!!!!!!!!! We could not believe it!!!!

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