People have been asking how our trip went, and I realized the blog world may like to hear, too, so here goes. And even if you aren't interested, well, it's my blog, so I guess I get to do what I want anyway.
Friday and Saturday
First of all, we were able to stop in Cairo, Egypt for 2 days before the "adoption trip". Highly recommend!!!!! Also, you may want to know that if you fly Ethiopian Airlines, the trip to Cairo is basically FREE. You only pay some minimal taxes, surcharges, maybe adding less than 100 bucks to the cost of the fare from Dulles to Addis Ababa. So, financially, very feasible. Also, I was very fortunate to have a friend who currently resides in Cairo, and she played tour guide the whole time we were there. Her apartment overlooks the Nile, with a view of the pyramids in the distance, so it is quite breathtaking. We crammed in as much as humanly possible in the 48 hours we saw this land. Yes, the trip was short, but since we may never return, I believe we took complete advantage of our time and enjoyed some wonderful experiences. And the food.....absolutely delicious. Honestly, Ethiopian food has some spices that are unfamiliar to my palate, so I eat rather sparingly in Ethiopia. But in Egypt, I enjoyed EVERYTHING!
A bit surprising to me, and another wonderful blessing, I was totally able to enjoy this jaunt out of the way before we embarked on the adoption trip. I was excited to meet Li'l B in a few days, but wasn't consumed with the thought, and was able to be fully present for our Egypt adventure. My dear friend Laura accompanied me on this part of the trip and when you get two old friends together, there is bound to be a wonderful time, with laughs, giddiness, silliness and just great fun. Oh, and little sleep, that may be a reason why there was so much giddiness.
This shot was taken from our balcony, the Nile before us, and the pyramids in the mist in the distance. Stunning.
Ouch, this poor guy needs a nose job.
Next stop, Addis Ababa.
We arrived in Addis on a Sunday morning, after traveling through the night from Cairo. Travis from Gladney was there, as was Solomon, our same driver as last time. So nice to see familiar faces! Travis dropped us off at the Ayat house, the same guest house as last time, too. Again, nice to see familiar, friendly faces, as we are welcomed back by Waguyu and Zimmett. I wasn't sure what my plan would be, but once in-country I wanted to meet Li'l B ASAP. Travis was completely willing to work with all my requests. We were not planning on following the typical Gladney schedule, as I had a year to think about what I wanted to see. Travis/Gladney were incredibly accommodating and flexible. So, we head off to meet my daughter, and the first meeting was.....well.....it was quite comfortable. Not mind-blowing, not amazingly stressful, actually relatively calm. I came armed with bubbles and she was fascinated. This gave me time to hold her and introduce myself. Then we walked around and through the home, and THAT WAS IT. Laura and I then went back to the guest house where we crashed for about 5 hours. That got my head the rest it desperately needed.
Later, Sunday night, my friend Maggie flies in to Ethiopia, as she is joining us on the rest of the trip.
Today we were scheduled to drive out to my children's village in Bantu, about 60 miles, yet 2.5 hours, away. This was INCREDIBLE. We stopped along the way to pick up their great-aunt, who has been instrumental in advocating for all three of our children. SO grateful for this woman. Then, on the long car ride, I was able to ask great-aunt tons of questions, to help understand my children's stories before they were ours. So many little nuggets! We then met extended family in Bantu, and saw the house my children lived in prior to coming to Gladney. Family treated us to lunch and again, we were given more information about our children's life prior to us. I brought many pictures, but could have brought hundreds more. They were like gold. So, for those of you with opportunities to bring pictures, bring MANY. It still won't be enough.
The extended family outside the house our kids lived in for a time.
The river that the twins brought their animals to for water.
Monday night I walk to the foster home, this time armed with a balloon. Li'l B warms up a tad more and we punch the balloon around.
Today we drove down to Asala, about a 3 hour drive south of Addis. We were able to meet the birth family of Maggie's adopted daughters and see where they grew up. Priceless!!! This is a beautiful, lush part of Ethiopia, with green, rolling hills, and a backdrop of stunning mountains. Lots of herds, too, cows, cows, more cows, goats, sheep, even one herd of camels. We also saw a family of monkeys hanging around a group of trees.
Tuesday night visit Li'l B again, with a ball in hand. She is becoming more playful as we rolled and threw the ball and she high-fived me a few times.
Wednesday we slept in, recovering from our first 2 travel days. Later, Belay gave us a personal tour of the 4 foster homes. Man, he LOVES these kids!!! Again, I got to spend some time with Li'l B, this time bringing a book to read. We wrapped up the afternoon by shopping for much of it. I am NOT a shopper, but thoroughly enjoy it when traveling. Hey, we were just spurring on their economy. In the evening, went to dinner with Gladney staff, which was a blast.
Pack up in the morning, then walk to the foster home after lunch to GET Li'l B. We say our goodbyes, take tons more pictures, then I just walk her out of there to the guest house. And that is that. Seemed anticlimactic, yet peaceful.
Once at the guest house, she warmed up in about 10 minutes. She was playful the rest of the day, and basically a dream on the flight home.
Enjoying coffee with Waguyu and Zimmett.
Remember the 4 B's -- bubbles, books, balls and balloons. Super easy to pack and definitely crowd pleasers.
I totally want to stress the WONDERFUL time I had on this trip. My friend and I each got custody of our children almost immediately for our first adoptions, but we both believed doing it this way, visiting her at the foster home, yet not taking custody until the end of the trip, was massively less stressful for us all. I had the privilege to experience things I would not have been able to, had I had our little one in tow, and she was able to stay in the comfort of what was familiar while she learned to warm up to me.
Our first family photo.....at the airport.