Thursday, September 4, 2008 – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Not much new today. We are stuck in the hotel because we cannot be seen in public with the girls. It’s a precaution against those who may disfavor what we are doing in our adoption – that is, outsiders coming inside to take away Ethiopian children.
So, in our sequestered state we are looking forward to the biggest task of today, which is to go to the U.S. Embassy. There, we will complete the last of our paperwork (for now) and get travel Visa’s for the girls.
Since yesterday, my physical condition has worsened. The nausea is extreme, and my head is just pounding. I’ve been pouring-out continual petition to our Lord that Katrina would remain healthy and patient with our girls. She has been doing most everything since we got them. I am also praying that I will be well enough to ride to the embassy for our appointment. I cannot miss that appointment. We can’t leave the country without getting Visa’s for our girls. As their father, I have to be present.
Update: God answered my prayers from earlier today. I am a long way from well, but did make it through our 2½ hour appointment at the U.S. Embassy. To add to the fun, our paperwork was messed-up (Alemu?) and we had the joy of being waited on by “Mr. Grumpy Pants”, a 20-something kid from the States. I found it ironic (but not unexpected) that a fellow American would be the snarkiest person on this trip. In the end, we got through redoing our paperwork and a rather long wait. We were issued the necessary Visas and popped-out at the bottom of the embassy stairs to cheers and high-fives. Hopefully those cheers brought a little bit of sunshine to Sir Grumps-a-lot.
Later in the day, Katrina ventured back out to shop. This time it was because of need, not desire. She went with Getachew (an associate of Alemu) to get some shoes for our youngest. Despite our best guesses, the shoes we brought for the girls are about two sizes too big. Of course, they being skinny as rails and undernourished doesn’t help. Our plan is to have the older wear what we intended for the younger while buying some shoes for the younger to gets us by until we can get home. Katrina snagged some snazzy “Tom & Jerry” Velcro athletic shoes – with lights! We could soon be dealing with some serious coveting (yes, I would like a pair for myself)
(Katrina here: Surprisingly, I was ready to be pretty firm on a price for the shoes. I was aware that I was at a disadvantage as soon as we pulled into the mall. This wasn’t a market or street-side shop where bargaining is expected. The man smelled my powerlessness and went for the kill. The cheaper shoes (which he branded inferior—he’s never heard of Walmart!) were out of stock. Finally, I just said, “Achi” (okay) to the more expensive Tom & Jerry’s. He then wondered if I might also need some pants. “Nyuh” (no), I responded and gave him my hardest “You’re-a-big-turkey” stare. He should count himself fortunate, as no 4-year old has ever had a pair of $20 shoes in the De Man family. Yet another first for us.)
Tonight was the night Alemu had arranged to take the group to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant, complete with dancers. It’s an end of trip celebration, and a gift from Alemu to us. I’ll let Katrina tell about that experience. I was still going toe-to-toe with Montezuma and this tribe. My night consisted of switching between BBC news and The National Geographic Channel on the television (those were the only stations in English).
The girls? Ah, yes. The girls. Well, as part of the evening, Alemu had arranged for babysitters for all of the group’s children. That way we were free to enjoy an evening out. It also gave the kids a break from us (which they needed). Even though l was unable to join the festivities and stayed at the hotel, we chose to leverage the babysitting so I could get some rest. Frankly, our little beauties would have eaten me alive in my depleted state.
(Katrina here: the traditional dinner dance was nice. I can only give it that adjective because I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want more Ethiopian food. I didn’t want to listen to the music anymore (Sami, our driver, had given us our fill via a cassette tape that looped endlessly). I didn’t want to sit on a backless chair and eat with my hands. I guess our Embassy compatriot’s mood (a.k.a. Mr. Grumpy Pants) had spilled over and I had lapped it up. As I observed our fellow travelers, though, we were all in the same place—tired and ready for bed. As I sat there, I also replayed, like a slow motion movie flashback, many moments of the last 8 days with these people. Perspective is everything.)
Late tomorrow night…we head for home.