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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Trip 2 - Bringing Levi Home and Ethiopia Sights and Sounds

Well, after this post you will feel like you have been to Ethiopia and perhaps adopted Levi too! We’ve got a section of pictures of our time with Levi, pictures of sights around Ethiopia, pictures of food (naturally), pictures of animals (of course), and pictures of some of the wonderful people we met. I even threw in a couple videos for good measure.

When we arrived, we were THE parents. They handed us Levi, some food and his medicine, told us when he eats, and then we all moved into our room at the guest house. Jet lag, a sick, 10 month-old baby who doesn't know you and you don't know him, a week in a foreign country and a 29 hour trip home = baptism by fire. It all went really very well though. At least we all lived to tell about it!

It was great having the drum and lion that we first showed him when we met him in December. He seemed to remember them and therefore us.

Levi was really sick again when we arrived. The first night we stayed up listening to him breathe. It was the most awful sound. Scary to be alone in Ethiopia with a very sick child who you don’t know and no one to call in the middle of the night! It seemed to help him breathe if he was propped on me. Brad snapped this at 4 a.m. Thanks, Brad.

Um…Levi loves noses.

Riding in the van. No car seats!

One of Levi's wonderful nannies.

Hermella, our new friend. We were the only people staying at the guest house, so we got to know her very well as she coordinates everything during the week.

Our suite in the House of Hope Guest House.

And giving Levi his first bath with us. He loves it! Lots of splashing.

Our room looked out over the schoolyard next door. I loved watching the students during recess. So interesting to see how they interact. The little pink building is the bathroom with the sinks along the side.

About hour 4 in the Addis Ababa (the capitol of Ethiopia) airport. Levi took a nice nap around midnight before we boarded. That way he was well-rested to scream for the first half-hour of the flight. Fun. I flew out of that seat when the seatbelt sign went off to walk him around some. Things got a lot better after that, but that is one seriously long flight.

The moment we landed on American soil! The sweet girl next to us took it for us. Blurry, but still captures the moment. I couldn't believe that both governments allowed us to board a plane with Levi and fly into the U.S. It still boggles my mind and makes me tired to think of the amount of paperwork that required. So worth it though!

The other couple, Ben and Katie, that travelled with our agency that week to bring their son, Mesfin, home. We've stayed in touch and Mesfin is a very happy boy in Columbus, OH!

The grandparents waiting with cameras as we came out of the arrivals walkway at Indy airport (after flying through Washington, Dulles where Levi officially became a citizen)!

We all grabbed lunch at the Patachou (where this was taken) in the Indy airport before Brad, Levi and I returned to home by ourselves. When we got home we wanted it to be very, very low key and just the three of us. All of this was a lot for a little baby to take in! More to come on all of that in the next post....

Now on to some of the sights of Ethiopia, which I compiled from both trips....

The Sheraton, where we stayed in December, was all decked out for Christmas. A lot of the trees had Santas climbing them, which made me laugh.

There is a lot of building going on all over Addis Ababa. I am constantly amazed at the scaffolding, which becomes part of the interior of the building and surrounded by cement.

You can go from seeing a shack to seeing incredibly modern, brand new buildings. It's hard to take it all in sometimes.

There are many beautiful Ethiopian Orthodox churches.

This is a common home. Most are surrounded by scrap metal.

It's extremely common to see a home like that above right next to a wall like this, which surrounds a nice, new home, hotel or compound. They often put barbed wire or reuse broken glass bottles stuck in cement to discourage thieves.

It's also common to see these makeshift tents on the side of the road that are little stores. This man seemed to be selling shoes? Another common business in these roadside tents was a man and his sewing machine.

Shopping with Levi at the rows and rows of shops that line many streets in Addis.

Now this was interesting. They were building a new road, but allowed us to drive on it while it was still just rubble. No lanes, well there aren't lanes marked on most streets, pretty much a free for all, but you could still get where you needed. You can see the rows of homes at the top of the ledge.

Back at our agency's guest house, House of Hope, they prepared a wonderful traditional Ethiopian meal and coffee ceremony for us. Yum! We were extremely well-fed the whole time we were there.

We ate twice during our first trip at a wonderful Ethiopian restaurant, Dashen. It may have been surrounded by tin shacks, but inside it was elegent and served the most delicious food and tej (honey wine). We had both the fasting meal of fish and the meat meal. We were also invited to do traditional dances with the group below! Such kind, welcoming people.

Animals everywhere! From stray dogs to cows, donkeys and goats walking right through the heart of the city. Donkeys especially are used to carry just about everything. I even saw a goat skull lying casually on the road just outside our agency's transition house.

These were taken right beside the fancy resort you saw in the last post. Such little boys washing and herding huge cattle!

On one of the lakes we visited they were setting up for a beautiful wedding.

Views of some of the side streets by the agency's buildings and the Melkim guest house. The paved road gave way to rubble-like streets immediately, as you'll see in one of the videos.

This is just a random median, but if you look closely you'll see someone has set up a small dwelling. This was very common. Medians, some much smaller and not fenced, were popular for this.

The busy streets of Addis. Notice no lanes on the roads. Merging onto another street was always an adventure.

The tiny taxis. Their minibuses and car taxis are all this same blue and white pattern.

During our second trip was the celebration of Epiphany, a huge holiday in Ethiopia. We went to see the procession, which was almost overwhelming in its size. We didn't stay long - it was hot and Levi was sick - but I'm so glad we got to see at least a bit of it.

This was during our first trip and just your average Sunday morning. Everywhere you looked people dressed in white were on their way to church.

I should have put this video on the the last post. This is the segment of our first meeting of Levi. He'll start bawling, just so you are warned. There are moments when he zones out a bit (means his brain can't process all that is happening) and then moments when he wakes up and starts crying. A very normal reaction and they train us to look for all of these things. It was actually quite awkward to have the nannies and our new friend George (behind the camera) all staring at us, but still a special (surprise! days earlier than we thought!) moment, nonetheless

I took this video for Levi. It is the drive we made many times to our agency's transition house, just after we turned off the main road. The street was mostly lined with mechanics, and you'll see a school go by quickly too. Then the walls of the compound begin and we eventually get to the big, green gates of the transition house.