Yesterday morning, after breakfast, the group (including Mikias) left the lodge for an overnight trip to the North. Fortunately, Benjamin, Mikias and I were able to drive with Alemu in his car. This was much easier for us as the rest of the group were in mini-buses. There are no car seats, so Mikias just sat on the backseat of the car and relied on the outside "animals" to try and keep him in his seat. Although not always successful, the majority of this ride went smooth. The highlight of these drives were related to the various villages we would happen upon where again we could pay witness to the day to day lives of Ethiopians. Today was a major contrast than what goes on in the city. The agrarian lifestyle is prominent. The houses are traditional. We saw many people walking to get water, attending school, plowing their fields, sifting the teff (grain used for making injera) or simply just sitting around.
After traveling about 100 km to the north, we stopped at the hotel we would be staying at to eat lunch. The rooms were small, didn't have electricity until after 9pm and the meat had to be brought in from Addis, as a butcher was not available during the fasting portion of Lent. Nonetheless, it was place to stay and we are in Ethiopia! I thought it was pretty amazing this place existed after a few of the villages we drove through.
The beginning of outing began with a trip to a monastery. Now, we did this 2 years ago but we had a completely different experience this time. First of all, as we were pulling on to the dirt road that leads to our destination, we stopped to watch the baboons. Mikias found the "monkeys" entertaining. I found my Dad entertaining as he decided to follow them, with my Mom quickly calling "Tim!" The other reason for this stop, was a very scenic panoramic gorge. Our group tends to draw a pretty big crowd, as we are 21 deep with 17 of us being white. Beggars tend to gravitate towards us and this stop was no exception.
Anyhow, upon entering the monastery area, we learned that the road leading up to it was being worked on. Therefore we had to walk from that point on. This walk turned out to be a pivotal part of our day. First of all, the village leading up to this area is extremely poor and there are people everywhere. We certainly stood out. More than that, Benjamin and Mikias stood out the most. Mikias was strapped to Benjamin's back in a hiking pack. Now, I am not sure what the exact stares and laughs were about, but I am sure we will continue to think about this. Was it this crazy contraption on his back…whereas local women just use cloth? Was it the fact that a male was carrying a child? Or, was it because Mikias is Ethiopian? Nonetheless, it was pretty obvious that we attracted much attention.
Upon entering the monastery, the most beautiful thing happened. As our group was walking towards the entrance, the service was letting out and a sea of "white" exploded upon us. There had to be at least 100 people coming out, dressed in traditional garb. It painted quite a picture. I know many of the group was awestruck and felt very privileged to see something so powerful.
Anyhow, after the brief tour inside, one very interesting story to share at some point, the same walk back to our cars and then a quick drink inside a local house, we were back in our vehicles to stop for juice and back to the hotel for dinner. At this point, Mikias was very tired and we turned in early for a good night sleep. How do I know this? Well, the light when ON at 9pm and we were in bed.
Today began early with about another 100km drive to the Blue Nile Gorge. This was absolutely amazing and was the highlight of our day. Some of our group who had been to the Grand Canyon, said this was much bigger. It was pretty cool. We drove as far north as the Blue Nile Bridge, which had been completed recently. Then, we did a 180 and headed back the other direction for Addis Ababa. However, along the way we stopped to plow a field with cows (seriously, good story to insert here…), had a drink in a traditional farmer's house and stopped in an orphanage. Pretty full, yet another wonderful day.
However, I heard Benjamin ask Mikias if he knew what tomorrow was. Mikias answered "tumblebus"! While his answer is correct as the tumblebus does in fact come to daycare on Wednesdays, I don't think even the tumblebus in his world can compare to what our day will look like in our world tomorrow. Perhaps, this is why I am still awake typing this at close to 2 in the morning…
In the morning, we are going to Debre Zeit, to see Mikias' village and more importantly, visit with his birthmother. We met her 2 years ago and are very excited to see her again. We made a photo album for her of Mikias' 2 years with us. However, even greater than that, we were informed today that Mikias is able to travel with us and in fact will be able to see her. I am so excited for him, for her…for us. While we recognize that this will be difficult and emotional, we are so thankful and excited for what this will mean to him as he grows up.
AND….as if all this is not enough……the biggest excitement is at 2pm (that is 6am US time - and only 12 short hours away) tomorrow we meet Sintayehu! I can't believe that this day has finally arrived. Tonight is the last night for Mikias to be an only child and the last night that our new sweet son will be sleeping in an orphanage! We hope to be able to post some pictures tomorrow, so everyone can get a look at the newest McKinney! Isn't life great?
Taking a break…
3 years ago