Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mountains, Bracelets, and Flowers

 Today started with a little sight-seeing. One of the things we really wanted to do while we were here was see Entoto Mountain. It has a storied history, the best views of Addis in the city, and it's got a beautiful palace and church. Problem was, we didn't have any time. At all. Well, our itinerary changed last-minute and we got to go with the O family up the mountain.

When I say "up the mountain" I'm going to need you to picture a tall, tall Colorado mountain but with no snow. I mean. Those mountain passes you've taken to get to the ski slope? We were taking them in a 15-passenger van with a guy who's used to driving on streets with no rules. We cut back and forth so fast it was dizzying. And awesome!!

Locals carrying their firewood down the mountain

When we got to the top, the first thing we had to do was go through the museum. Our museum guide spoke in the quietest, fastest form of English I have ever heard. Picture an adult Ethiopian man speaking like the girl from Pitch Perfect. Seriously. Some of the history was super interesting. And other times I just wanted to get to the palace/church part and look over the views of the city. Our museum guide asked if E was from Holland. I giggled. That was a first!

A flag outside the former palace

We finished up in the museum and headed to look at the church and the palace, which was partially destroyed in the war with Italy. Which Ethiopia won. But with some hardship.

The church...we can't go in but it's beautiful even from the outside

A tomb of one of the former leaders. Also known as: a pretty building.

As we were walking, we heard quite the commotion. We looked over and saw quite a few people headed up to the church, water jugs in hand. One was yelling uncontrollably. I had heard from my friend Amanda about the holy waters of Entoto mountain so it wasn't shocking to me to see this site but I wasn't sure I would actually get to see it. Yes, sir. A steady stream of people with ailments, from the one who our guide told us had a demon, to people who had to be carried up on the mountain. It was a tragic site to see so many needy headed up the mountain. If you know about Noonday, their artisan group works with some of the women who come here for healing. They give them medicine, jobs, and hope. And the people I saw today needed hope.

Taking a few photos at the palace
Inside the palace

By far my favorite part was looking out over the city. Sure, it was pretty foggy today. And sure, you can usually see the entire city and we couldn't really see too much. But it was still beautiful. A site I am so glad I saw. 

We headed back down the mountain and stopped to take photos at some of the most beautiful overlook spots along the road. Because in Ethiopia, you can stop your van anywhere on a tiny mountain switchback road for your passengers to jump out and take photos. Totally normal.

At this point, afternoon was approaching and E and I were DYING to get to IC. But instead, we had a notoriously long lunch. With no power at the restaurant. Again. A group of 40 sat down just before us and it took two hours to get our food. I think E was about ready to run to the transition home and would have, if he had any idea where in the world it was. But Ethiopia doesn't have street signs. It's nearly impossible for us white people to figure out where were are at any given time. Well, by that I mean, I have no idea where we are at any time.

It felt like midnight when we paid our check and drove off. We finally arrived at the transition home to see our son and he came running.

We started our time together with the sweetest moment. I think I shared with you that we gave him a bracelet the first day and we each have a matching one. Well today, IC came out with bracelets of his own. He had made a friendship bracelet out of yarn for each of us, matching exactly, and one from rainbow loom loops. He carefully tied both on dad's wrist. Then mine. Then he pulled out his matching two and asked me for help. I tied them on. Matching family. 

This photo is from yesterday. I add it because 1, you can see his bracelet (the turquoise and gray one) and 2, He's looking at Kids Club photos on my phone. I think he's ready to go!

We spent the afternoon playing catch, drawing, and playing with a craft set I found with beads and pipe cleaners. We made spiders and snowflakes from the box. He asked for a necklace with beads and E obliged. I made him a crown and he wore it with pride. And then, with no explanation on the box, he created a flower and gave it to me. Today, I got my first flower from my son. It's sitting right here next to me. I will treasure it.

I also got to paint a few nails today. Shout out to my friend Tanya who ran around town gathering some goodies for me before I left. One little girl had been following me around all week. I pulled out the purple polish and she held her hand very still as I put it on every nail. She grinned and ran off. Turns out, she was grabbing a friend. The friend picked out a color: pink. The friend then proceeded to tell me first little girl's favorite color was purple and she was so happy I chose purple. I'm gonna call a holy spirit interception on this one. I had no idea. But it made us all very happy.

After several games, E started writing out words in English and we'd sound them out together. This was a fun game so he went on to math. E started writing out simple addition problems. He looked at us like, "you kiddin' me?" and answered them all. E went a little harder. Then subtraction. Then multiplication. He looked like the happiest guy in the room as he went through each problem, getting them all right. We have a little mathlete on our hands. Let's all get jackets.

It felt like it went so fast again today!! Before we could even realize how long we'd been there, our guide told us it was time to take off. We hugged pretty hard today. We got in the van. He hopped in and hugged again. The driver closed the door, IC still inside. He was grinning from ear to ear. Sorry, bud. We tried as hard as we could (with zero Amharic skills) to explain we'd be back tomorrow and he'd get to ride in the van soon. We all had pretty sad faces as we drove away.

We got back and decided to head up to the roof of our guest house. We'd heard about the views but hadn't ever caught it when the roof was unlocked. Today we got lucky. Everything they said about the views were right. It made me so happy to see the bustling city from so high up. Everything about it is uniquely Ethiopia.

We decided the best decision for tonight was just to rest in the room. So we've been sharing leftovers, sorting donations, and even had a St. George (Ethiopian beer). We're trying to not think about the fact that tomorrow might be the last day we see our son for a month or longer. I can't think about that.

Instead I will think about how wonderful today was. I got a flower from my son. My math whiz son. And that, my friends, is a great day.


  1. He made you a flower? So, so, so sweet. And I love that he is a "mathlete." It's amazing how quickly you are bonding. It is clear that God's hand is upon you.

  2. So happy for you! :) Thank you for sharing!

  3. Awesome day. Awesome God. So excited for your precious family!

  4. Thank you for shaing your day with us! Tears of joy and heartache for you as you experience this amazing country and your son and praying for your flights home. May God bring you all together again very very soon!