Monday, February 21, 2011

November 10 (Day 27)

Awassa day 2! boat ride, visiting Initiative Ethiopia

November 10, (Day 27)

So we had a bad night. Solomon was up most of the night and so was I. A heads up, the Lewi did not have cribs. He had a horrible runny nose and his eyes were watering the next morning. We went to breakfast and waited for our driver Solomon to come get us as we were going to visit Solomon and John's first orphanage Initiative Ethiopia.

While waiting for Solomon to arrive one of the managers of the resort offered us a complimentary boat ride so we took them up on their offer. It was a 15 minute ride around part of the lake. We were hoping to go on a boat ride to see the hippos and asked about that but it was rather pricey for just us and no one else staying at the resort was interested in splitting the fare with us so we didn't get to see the hippos.
 We had to cross over this crate in order to get on the dock to board the boat.

After the boat ride we headed over to Initiative Ethiopia, Solomon's first orphanage. He was there for about a month before being taken to the Gladney foster homes on February 15, 2010. The staff was so welcoming and claim that they remembered Solomon and loved all over him. They showed such amazing hospitality towards us by performing a coffee ceremony and offering us the best chairs that they had so we could sit in the shade as Awassa was very very hot.  The orphanage has 3 buildings in a U shape that have different rooms for the kids. The children were so sweet and the staff really loved on them.

This is a guard and he wanted his picture taken in front of Solomon's van.
One of the baby rooms where Solomon could have been
We stayed at Initiative for several hours playing with kids, drinking coffee, eating popcorn. But it was so hot and we were hungry, so we decided to head out and come back the next day. While we were driving we saw these wild our driver pulled over and started feeding them and then gave us some food for the monkeys. I was pretty nervous..after all they were wild but they were really cute. Luckily they were nice :)

 A view of the city streets. Awassa was very pretty and didn't appear as busy as the big city of Addis. It seemed to have more of a laid back feel.
We stopped to get some pictures of the sunset over the lake and hundreds of people began to surround us to watch...I don't think they see many Americans.

Friday, February 18, 2011

November 9 (Day 26)


November 9,

That morning we finished packing everything up and loaded it up in our van to head out to Awassa. It took us around 6 hours to get there in a hot un-air conditioned van holding an 11 month old in my lap. We made lots of stops - coffee, farms to get fresh produce, to look at animals, to admire the view.

Finally we arrived at the Lewi Resort. It was still under construction, but the resort was nice. We were one of the few people staying there.

We ordered dinner to our rooms and went to bed early as it had been a long day...however Solomon did not sleep very well that night.

November 4-8 (Day 21-25)

Solomon has an appointment, Hill Bottom, Sheraton, staying in

November 4,

Solomon had an appointment this morning to go get his picture taken and I think to visit the doctor to prepare him to get his visa. Gladney usually texts you or gives you a call the night before/sometimes the morning of to let you know that your child has an appointment as they let you know once they are told. His special mother (I later found out that he had 2 special mothers) was the one who held him in the car and took care of him while at the appointment. He didn't appear to remember her and preferred to be held by me so that made me happy to see the attachment continuing to happen. It was also nice to meet the woman who had been taking such wonderful care of him. So while he was at his appointment. Solomon our driver took me around to some guesthouses so that I could find a place for my mom, mother-in law and I for when they arrived in a couple of weeks. Our current place was only 2 bedrooms and Joanna Lovin was already in the other room and her aunt was coming so I needed a bigger space. We went back to the Ayat Houses to check them out and I later found out that they were booked so it would not work out for us.

We got the call that Solomon was finished with his appointment, we picked him up, and then headed over to Hill bottom restaurant to meet up with the Plumbs and Joanna. The children were able to go with us as it was "out of the city". Hill bottom is located within walking distance to the Gladney care centers and has a little playground. Solomon had his first (I think) time on a swing and he really enjoyed it.

 Joanna and I decided that we wanted to get some sun and lay out by the beautiful pool at the Sheraton, but neither of us had brought a bathing suit. So we went bathing suit shopping in Ethiopia. Now normally bathing suit shopping is not my idea of fun and usually takes several bathing suits to try on and several stores before actually finding a suit that "will do".  So we asked our driver if he would take us bathing suit shopping :) We saw some lovely suits hanging outside of an open storefront and went to check them out.  These bathing suits were all one pieces with skirts and came in s, m, l.  There was no where to try them on at. And the best part about the whole experience was that a (probably) 10 year old boy was selling them to us. Well for some reason Joanna and I could not stop laughing at the fact that we were buying these bathing suits from this young boy and he couldn't stop laughing at us either. I wish I had a picture of the whole thing.  We ended the day by getting some dinner at Blue Tops restaurant.

November 5, (Day 22)

Joanna and I went to the Sheraton to lay by the pool for a little R and R.  The Gladney social worker had said that we needed to take some time for ourselves since we were being single moms just to rejuvenate so we took her advice. The Sheraton is a wonderful resort and has tons of lounge chairs to lay out on by the pool and have people who come by and bring you drinks and food. It is wonderful! I relaxed, read a book, and Joanna and I made a list of places/things we wanted our family members to do once they arrived during our last week in Ethiopia. It was so nice just to soak in the sun and be....

November 6, (Day 23)

We stayed in all day.

(John and Solomon showing off their crawling skills)
(Such big boys standing all by themselves)
November 7, (Day 24)

Stayed in

November 8, (Day 25)

Before going to Ethiopia, Matt and I decided that we wanted to explore Awassa where Solomon is from. Joanna and Travis also wanted to go down there since John is from that area. We had planned on going together before taking placement of the boys, but once in Ethiopia we decided that we would rather have more time with them and took placement of the boys right away and decided not to go to Awassa as it is about 6 hours away.

Well Joanna and I realized that we had a long time until our family arrived and what were we going to do. Why not go down to Awassa, because we would probably regret it if we didn't. So we were planning on leaving on Monday (the next day). We decided to check out of the BnB so we wouldn't have to pay for it while we were gone and then just move into a new place once we returned from Awassa that would accommodate my mom, mother-in-law, Joanna's aunt and us. So we went on a hunt to find such as place...turned out not to be so easy. Just an FYI we were told by our driver that what distinguishes a guesthouse from a hotel is that guesthouses don't have elevators.

We first checked the Bejoe as we had previously met Genet and knew how sweet she was, plus other Gladney families seem to love staying there. Well she didn't have room for all of us and neither did either of the Ayat Houses (we knew we wanted to continue to stay together). So we were told that there was a guesthouse behind the Bejoe and went to check it out. It was old and wasn't going to work for us. Our driver knew of some more so off we went. We then went to Weygoss guesthouse to check it out. It was ok (had a hotel feel) and had a suite that could have worked but they were booked. We went to the Yebsasbi guesthouse. It was really nice (more of a hotel feel) but they didn't have enough space to accommodate all of us. We went to the New Flower and apparently they had enough space but had to call us back about prices. We then checked out another one, don't remember that name..but it didn't look very clean. We knew we didn't want to stay at the Ethiopian guesthouse as it was so far away and the people who were staying there didn't seem that thrilled with it. So after a long day of searching the New Flower finally called us back and we agreed on prices and they had 5 rooms available!!! FYI always negotiate doesn't hurt to ask. We were able to come down $20 per room per night since we were going to be staying for 3 weeks and booking 5 rooms. So once we got our room situation settled we went back to pack up and prepare to leave the next day to visit our children's homeland and first orphanage.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

November 2-November 3 (Days 19-20)

Sheraton, Addadi Mariam Church

November 2,  (Day 19)

Before I even left for Ethiopia, people told me I should visit the Sheraton Hotel and I wasn't exactly sure why. Then while in Ethiopia the staff asked if we had visited the Sheraton and we said no so we decided to go- the Plumbs, Joanna Lovin and I for lunch. Let me just say that it is beautiful - the furnishings, the flowers, the pools - beautiful... a vacation resort. The lunch was good as well. It s crazy to me to think how much money people spend to stay there, it is ridiculous, but it is also gorgeous.

 (Joanna, me, Shannon)
 See this painted is there to obscure your vision from the shacks that are below.

Ok so enough about that. After lunch the girls headed over to the Boston Day Spa to get a pedicure..the prices are so good...and so was the pedicure.  Then it was back to the guesthouse to play with my little man.

November 3, (Day 20)

At this point I remember thinking how will I ever make it till when my mom and MIL seemed like forever away. So a little day trip was in order. The Plumbs, Joanna and I decided to take a trip out of the city to see the Addadi Mariam (sp?) rock church. Ok I may not be remembering this correctly but I believe it is over 600 years old. The drive there was beautiful and that alone is reason to go visit the church. If in Ethiopia, you must get out of the city and go to the countryside. Once there we had a tour guide and he sang a song for us. You have to take your shoes off so remember to wear socks and the drive is a little bumpy as part of it is on a gravel road.

 (ok see that hill with grass on it..the church is underneath all of that. Solomon our driver)
 Joanna, me, Shannon and Brian going down the steps to the church

 (Joanna and I with our boys)

 our driver Solomon
 Our tour guide
 standing outside of the church
 (me/Solomon, John/Joanna, Tate/Shannon)
 Kids loved to wave at us as we drove by
 Apparently this is where this little town has a market on the weekends

 Solomon enjoying the ride

 Playtime back at the guesthouse...isn't he beautiful