Lori's entry will give you more information about what all we did today.
What was most interesting to me on day three was the contrast between
what we saw today and what we've seen previously. I mentioned in another
entry that there are signs of progress here. There are new high rise
buildings and ambitious road projects. However, we had also seen signs
of the incredible poverty in this nation; miles and miles of small huts,
roads in terrible shape, more beggars than one would normally see in
even America's bigger cities.
Today we visited the U.S. Embassy to get Daniel's visa so he can enter
the United States. The embassy is in a different part of town, and the
sights on the ride there were a stark contrast to what we'd seen. Along
this main avenue, we drove by Addis Ababa University and the national
museum. While there were still lots of beggars tapping on our car window
asking for food, overall the people on the streets looked much healthier
and were dressed better than they had been in the other parts of town
After the embassy, we did a bit more shopping. While our shopping
yesterday had been in a market in the poorer areas of Addis, the stores
we visited today showed another facet of the people here. The stores
were full of items imported from other countries. We visited one store
that was full from floor to ceiling of Reebok, Adidas, and Nike shoes
and clothes. There were at least ten jewelry stores with nice quality
gold and silver (interesting tidbit...Gold and silver jewelry is sold by
the ounce. When you ask for a price, they put the item on a scale and
calculate the price based on the current day's rate.)
Ethiopia is famous in part for its coffee. We went to a coffee shop in a
different part of the city to buy roasted coffee beans. They do the
roasting right on the premises. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I'm told
that $3.00 for about a pound of coffee beans is a pretty good deal. Some
in our group bought 15 pounds of coffee. We got to see where they
roasted the beans and bagged them (by hand). I have to say it's the
first time I've really liked the smell of coffee. And feeling that bag
of warm coffee beans was pretty neat.
As we were waiting for the coffee to finish roasting, I stepped outside.
Across the street, a high rise condominium complex was being constructed
(with metal scaffolding, unlike the wood scaffolding I'd seen up until
Tonight, we went to an Italian restaurant (we'd eaten an Ethiopian meal
on Monday night). Our guide, Robel, told us this was an expensive
restaurant, so we were wary of eating there. Again, the restaurant was a
huge contrast to what we'd experienced. The restaurant was a part of a
secluded courtyard with a very nice fountain and pavers. The restaurant
reminded me of some of the nicer places I've eaten in Chicago. However,
much to my delight, Allison, Lori, and I ate a very nice meal for less
than 200 birr ($20). Can't find a restaurant like that in the big cities
in the U.S. for that kind of price...
To top off the day of contrasts, as we drove back to the hotel, we
passed a large mall, several high rises, and a sprawling "palace" that a
local construction firm owner had built for him and his relatives. And
two blocks from that we were back into the squalor, with the broken
roads, traffic lights that didn't work, and beggars on the side of the road.
People should know that while Ethiopia's poverty is more significant
than even the worst part of the United States, Addis Ababa also has
thriving commercial areas that give me hope that things are on the
rebound here. My hope is that all of these children that are being taken
from Ethiopia to be raised in the United States and other countries can
some day come back here and continue this country's development.
One other interesting note. Obama's win IS the talk of the town today.
One of the radio stations was playing Martin Luther King's "I Have A
Dream" speech. Several folks stopped us on the streets, chanting
"Obama". And while we couldn't understand the Amharic speakers on the
radio, we frequently hear "Obama". Some of the small stores have been
selling Obama t-shirts. They are very proud of Obama's African roots. No
matter your political opinions, I believe his election is going to
change other country's perceptions of the U.S.
Tomorrow, I'm going to write about our guide (Robel). He has an amazing
story that has been an inspiration to our travel group. Those of you who
are getting ready to come here need to ask him personally, since I'm
sure my account will not do his story justice.
Hello all, Lori here!
This is just going to be a short post as I am exhausted. Thank you to
all for praying! All families, including Val, passed through immigration
today. All of the little ones will have visas to come home. We heard
late this morning that the Embassy had received Val's paperwork. She is
our hero.... she is here alone, a first time mom, and incredible! She is
doing so well, and took on all the stress of not knowing if she would be
staying here alone over the weekend. Praise the Lord our prayers were
answered; she will be on our flight home.
Last night was Daniel's first night with us. He is doing incredible,
other than the bath he has not cried. He is a great eater, and a serious
boy. We are starting to get some smiles out of him. We have heard him
say mom, baby, and no. He woke up in the night about the same time that
he would have been woken up at the Transition Home. It is Ethiopian
culture to wake the babies for bottles and keep them on a schedule. We
are hoping to break their schedules.... they feed the babies every 2
hours during the day and wake them twice a night for bottles. We like to
sleep at night and don't believe in waking a sleeping baby!
Tomorrow we are headed to Kid's Care and another orphange. Dear
Slonigers, as far we know we should get to meet your son at Kid's Care.
Hopefully they did not move him today.
Michael and Benjamin, we did some shopping for you! We miss you and love
you! Have fun with Grandma and Grandpa! See you in 3 more days! Did you
boys like Daniel's outfit? Talk to you soon!
Love to all. Please pray for our safe return home!