Monday, December 17, 2007

Ethiopia Trip: Days 1-2: Travel

I can't promise I'll get through it all before our Christmas trip, but I've decided to take a shot at telling about our trip since I just finished journaling about it. (Yes, I know it's five months later.) Let the storytelling begin.

On July 13, 2007, our friends Janice and Terry took us to the airport. We got to the airport at 11:00. Janice helped us get the luggage to the line but it was tricky getting it back to where they take it into security—two suitcases and one big Rubbermaid bin, plus backpacks—since Aaron couldn’t really lift it (remember this is just about five weeks after open heart surgery!), but we managed. Then we got through security and had enough time to get some fast food to eat. That was a mistake—in business class you get a three-course meal!

Business class did not disappoint even six-foot-five-plus Aaron. Legroom? Ha! You could have a dance party up there in Row 1. And your seat is not a seat, it’s a Transformer with its own remote control. Between eating and drinking (which takes a long time with tablecloths and courses) and refreshing ourselves with hot towels and sleeping, we didn’t even have time to watch movies on our personal screens or even read books (we were too tired for reading anyway). We got to Frankfurt at about 8:00 a.m. their time. I wasn’t too impressed with that airport (though the part we were in coming home was better). It’s huge, but that wing had two-seater bathrooms and no drinking fountains, and we couldn’t go into the sitting area by the gate until the previous flight was gone, and there appeared to be some holdup with the German Pen & Teller’s tickets, so we stood or sat on the hard floor in the hallway a long time. Then we took a packed bus to our plane. Finally the comfort of business class again, and now I got a window. Took off at right around 11:00 am. We refueled in Khartoum, Sudan, and a bunch of people got off. Only a couple more hours to Addis.

We did it. We’re in Africa.

I’d been a little afraid getting off the plane would be busy and chaotic, but it was easy. We went directly into the room to get our visas, which was simple. We changed some money, then stood in line and went through the customs window, then got our bags onto a cart. Well, again, I got our bags onto a cart while Aaron stood there feeling lame and looking lazy/cruel. He said later he should have given me a 'hurry up, woman!' slap on the butt just for further effect.

Heading out, I didn’t realize we needed the baggage claim stubs we’d been given at PDX and I’d stuck in my zip ticket holder, and I couldn’t figure out what the guy was demanding—“Tickets! Tickets!” Then I was flustered and hot from hefting the suitcases around and just wanted to find the agency's lawyer, Sintiyehu—but didn’t see him. Some people had signs but none said Dove. I tried to act like we knew where we were going but a couple guys asked if we needed a taxi or to use their phone. I was a little freaked but the paper said go outside and follow the sidewalk so we did, all the way down to where cars pulled up, where fortunately a man asked if we were us, Dove Adoptions—our driver Wendi. Thank goodness! Sinti was inside but we had missed him; he said he showed me his sign and I said no. Whoops. We loaded up, tipped an unsolicited luggage helper, and were off. It was very warm out, felt good.

Our room at the guest house was a room with a queen bed and bathroom off it and bedroom with two twins and a wardrobe. I'd heard it was rather like camping but I didn't think so. But first we went in the house and they had dinner ready for us. We met a couple who has been here a while already and done some traveling, Kate and Jon, from Alaska. They talked to us a bit while we ate a little but we really weren’t hungry because of all the airplane food, so we ditched out to go to bed. I slept pretty well but it was cold in the room and Aaron got really cold when he got out of bed (as he had ever since surgery). In the night we heard dogs barking and I heard the mosque call to prayer, but they weren’t loud or bad. I woke up a little before the alarm went off at 7:00 but it was very dark in the room. And . . . no power. I found the crank flashlight to get my clothes around and discovered there was still hot water, so Aaron took a shower. Okay, maybe it is a bit like camping, I thought at this point.

Then I opened the door and felt like Dorothy in the Land of Oz: the sun was shining brightly on huge, bright green leaves, colorful flowers, dewy grass, cheerful birds.

We had breakfast at about 8:00. Very good. Starting to get nervous and emotional about meeting Anna . . .

Wendi drove us over to the orphanage care center at 9:30. Kate and Jon asked him to tell them to have them bring out our girl first since we hadn’t met her yet, and Jon was going to use their little DVD burner camera for us and Kate used our camera. We were ready . . . right?


Kim Pasion said...

Wendy, I am so excited to read about your trip. It takes me right back there. We too flew business class on Lufthansa and felt like a queen! I also didn't know about the ticket/luggage stubs and the man kept yelling "ticket". Can't wait to hear more about your trip. Kim Pasion

Guruzilla said...

Hey, thanx for this! Nice to hear the story told. (Good time of year to tell the important stories, no?)