Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ethiopia....the day has come!

So, blogging from Ethiopia didn't go as planned. Our internet was spotty at best and honestly I think I will be able to share a little better now that I have had some time to process the things that I have seen there. So, I am going to start over from the beginning,

On Thursday, July 6, the day I had been waiting for for 7 months had finally come. I had done all I could to prepare myself and my family and it was time. Thirteen of us met at the airport to make the first leg of the trip to Washington DC where we would meet up with the remainder of our team (minus 2 who were already in ET) to make our long journey to Ethiopia. I am so glad that Kelley (my sister) was on this trip with me. I am sure I would have been much more nervous if I hadn't had her along.

This is the group that left from Nashville.

We flew to Washington DC where we met up with the rest of our group. We were unable to check our bags all the way through to Ethiopia as we had hoped so we had to pick them all up and take them to the hotel with us on the hotel shuttle. Lets just say that our shuttle driver was not impressed when he saw us standing at the shuttle stop right at time for him to get off work....and he wasn't afraid to tell us so either. If it weren't for the guys on our trip I am not sure what we would have done! They were champs when in came to loading and unloading our luggage. Not to mention that they were a lot of fun too!
Kelley and I had this fabulous idea that we would not sleep much at the hotel that way we would be good and tired on the plane and sleep on the way to Ethiopia. So at about 3 am we went to bed only for our alarm to go off at 6!! We had breakfast nad headed to the airport for our 13 hour flight!! The plane we flew on was really nice. There were screens in the seatbacks where you could watch movies, play games, and track your location. It was neat to see what we were flying over. Its a good thing we were entertained too because I don't think either of slept for more than 30 minutes at a time for a total of 2 hours at the most.
We arrived in Ethiopia at about 8:15 am (which is 12:15am) at home. Our plan was to make it through security and head out to our first orphanage. We learned quickly on this trip that things rarely go as planned in ET. We got our visas and all our luggage and lined up for security. I use the term "line up" loosely because there were no lines just a lot of people trying to push their way through security. We finally made it and headed out. About 2/3 of our team made it out when a "security" person came and waved the rest of over to the side. We spent the next 5 hours going back and forth with the "officials" there over our donations. There was of course a language barrier and we were all thankful when our guide/translator/bodyguard/friend "Bissy" showed up. In Ethiopia it seems there aren't many set rules and we found that to be true with our luggage. The reason for "holding" us changed from you are not allowed to bring used items for donations to you are only allowed to bring 4 shirts per person (seriously!), to you have to pay taxes on any new items that you bring. So, 5 hours and $500 later we were allowed to leave the airport. The rest of our team had been in the parking lot for that entire time praying that we made it out!

We loaded all that luggage on top of the vans and headed to the Guest House. Driving (or riding) in Ethiopia is an adventure in itself. There doesn't seem to be many "rules of the road" and there is a LOT of honking and weaving in and out of vehicles, pedestrians, and livestock. I quickly realized that the honking is not rude, it is basically just a warning that I am here and I am coming around it or not!!

We arrived at the Guest House and got settled in. Although we were disappointed that we werent able to go to the orphanage we enjoyed hanging out outside the Guest House gates with the kids who live near the house. Those kids became our friends for the week and were usually waiting on us in the mornings and when we would return in the afternoons. Most if not all of these kids attended school and spoke very good English. They loved playing soccer and playing with our iPads. We turned in early that nigt so we would be rested up and ready for the next day!

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