Monday, August 30, 2010

More Baby Talk

Des and Bri are still being awfully close-lipped with us. They will sign "food" and occasionally "more" but they sure do have a lot to say to each other. I found a totally imaginary very cool baby talk translator and heard them comparing Ethiopia to California the other day. Here is what they were saying:
  • "Who thinks seaweed and soybeans are a normal snack?!?!?! We definitely didn't see much of that in Ethiopia!"
  • "Why is the water here so frothy? Every time we take a bath in the big tub there are all these bubbles in it! Thank goodness they don't make us drink that water."
  • "In Ethiopia, we always got to sit on Mama's lap in the car. Now she just keeps strapping us down. She even straps us down in that little car with the handles that Mama pushes...I think they keep calling it a stroller."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ethiopia Travel Journal - Part 3 - Yirgalem to Addis

July 24, 2010
After my amazing time in Yirgalem, I was a little sad to leave. However, everyday brought me closer to the day that I would meet Des and Bri. We had a long day of driving ahead of us, from Yiralem to Addis. I tried to capture a few photos from the window of our car as we left the Sidama area.

To break up the long drive, we stopped at Lake Langano for lunch. The lake is a brownish-pink color which was a pretty contrast with the green trees and blueish horizon.
Though it was a long day, it was rather uneventful. Once we finally made it to Addis Ababa, we checked in at our guesthouse and reorganized our stuff for our overnight trip to Lalibela the next day.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Who's who?

Which little monkey:
  • Has been working on his Christmas list for three months?
  • Gets himself dressed every morning before he even comes out of his room?
  • Keeps imagining that the girls' baby talk is really talk ("Hey Mama, Des just said sarcophagus!")?
  • Needs to eat a pear everynight before he goes to bed?

Which little lovebug:
  • Said, "Mama, that is not what I ordered!" when I served dinner one night?
  • Refers to Bri and Des as "his girls?"
  • Gave me a big smooch and said, "When we kiss, I get your germs and you get mine!"?
  • Said, "Nice guns, lady!" to a female police officer?

Which little cutie pie:
  • Refuses to drink from a sippy cup but insists that you unscrew the lid every time she wants a drink?
  • Loves popcorn (just like a true Ethiopian (and her mama))?
  • Puckers up so big when she comes in for a kiss?

Which little cutie patootie:
  • Kissed her reflection in the stainless steel dishwasher?
  • Gained two pounds in two weeks?
  • Left quite the impression (pun intended) at a local park where she walked through (and fell face first in) wet cement?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ethiopia Travel Journal - Part 2 - Awassa to Yirgalem

July 23, 2010
From Awassa, we continued south to Yirgalem. Without going into too many specifics (because it is Des and Bri's story to tell one day and not mine), Yirgalem was the closest my mom and I were going to be traveling to where the girls are from. I'm not sure, but that may be the reason that I absolutely loved the area south of Awassa and around Yirgalem. Though I hadn't met Bri and Des yet, I could imagine them being born and living here.

We stayed at Aregash Lodge which I highly recommend and plan on taking the whole family to in 10 years or so. The rooms are individual bamboo thatched 'huts' for lack of a better term and are arranged in the style of a traditional Sidamo village. Of course, they are completely modernized with very nice bathrooms and comfortable beds. The walls are beautifully woven and the high ceilings have a calming pattern of concentric circles. During our night stay, it rained and the sound on the woven roof was amazing.
While at Aregash Lodge, we took a walk through the surrounding 'neighborhood' with a lodge employee. This, by far, was the most rewarding part of my whole time in Ethiopia before meeting my daughters. Once the mud road ended, we followed little paths between many homes. I was amazed to see so many varieties of fruits and vegetables growing. And lots of coffee (much sold to *bucks).

At one point, with our guide in front, my mom in the middle and I bringing up the rear I turned around while walking on a narrow path to find a handful of kids quietly following us. Awhile later, I turned back around and to my surprise the silent group had doubled. The kids giggled and smiled and continued to quietly follow us.

I think from my photos it is easy to tell how lush and even tropical this area is. It definitely helps to erase all the pictures etched in our minds of the parched and dusty land of Ethiopia from the mid-1980s.

Our guide asked a teenage girl to show us how the locals harvest, process and cook enset (also known as false banana). The girl took us in the enset forest and began to chop at the root of an enset plant using the shoulder blade bone of a cow. This pulp was in a container of enset leaves on the forest floor. There was also a shallow hole lined with enset leaves where the pulp was stored under a layer of water. I think this was used to make porridge after being left for a month. The girl eventually began scraping the leaves with a long metal comb to make more pulp.

Thank goodness that I had seen a Travel Channel show showing the different ways to process enset so that I had some idea what she was doing. The girl then graciously invited us into her home to show us how they use part of the pulp of the enset plant to make a flat bread. Sitting on a wooden bench in her home we watched the teenage girl (the youngest of her family and the only child still living with her parents) start a fire. Using a huge wooden bowl, the girl wrung out the wet pulp and manipulated it until it somehow turned into flour. Using a basket, she then sifted it over the wooden bowl. She patted the flour directly on to a pan on the fire until it turned into a very dry flatbread. The end result was not something like I've ever tasted before and certainly not the highlight of the experience. Instead, seeing how this girl spent her days and seeing her house and family was a wonderful opportunity.

The guide, my mom and I made our way back to Aregash Lodge. There we witnessed an Ethiopian coffee ceremony. I'm not a coffee drinker (don't even like coffee ice cream) but I thought "when in Rome Ethiopia, do as the Ethiopians do." And the Ethiopians are serious about their coffee. And anything served with popcorn sprinkled with sugar is good with me.

After a nice dinner, we retired for the night to our 'hut.' In some ways, I wanted to spend so much more time in Sidama. But I knew that leaving meant I was closer to meeting my beautiful daughters.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Summer Camp

Last summer was a rough one for me. And I knew it was going to me, so much so that I started a weekly carnival to help me and other mamas survive.

This summer I decided to go a different direction. I enrolled the boys in a camp three days a week for several weeks. Though the boys didn't always like it and frequently boycotted going, when they were there it offered me a chance to get things accomplished before my trip to Ethiopia. Since being back, they have really not wanted to go (unfortunately), wanting to be with mama and the girls instead.

This was the last week of camp. On Wednesday, they put on hilarious performance for us. Below are pictures from that performance and excerpts from their "All About Me" books that they worked on:

  • My favorite color is red and blue.
  • My favorite game to play is Star Wars.
  • My favorite foods are I don't remember and ice cream and strawberries.
  • Summer vacation is great! I like to go fishing and to McDonald's and have a McFlurry.
This was some strange 'months of the year' song that they combined with macarana dance moves.

  • My favorite color is blue and light brown.
  • My favorite game to play with a firetruck and to play spies.
  • My favorite foods are broccoli and candy.
  • My favorite pet is a Marley-dog and he likes peanut butter cookies.

This is the "tooty-ta" song and dance. Believe it or not, Logan is doing it right!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ethiopia Travel Journal - Part 1 - Addis to Awassa

July 20-22, 2010
My mom and I left California on Tuesday and arrived in Ethiopia on Thursday. In an effort to jam as much as possible in the shortest time possible, we had a driver meet us at the Addis Ababa airport to immediately take us to the Sidama region.

After several hours of driving we arrived very tired in Awassa. We had been traveling for more hours than I can count over several days and all we wanted was to grab a quick meal and head to bed.

July 23, 2010
The next morning we met up with our driver, Ayele, and headed off to see a bit of Awassa, the capital of the Sidama region. Located on the shores of Lake Awassa, it is the largest city in the Ethiopian Rift Valley. We didn't spend any time in the town itself really but headed for a park on the water. There, we were able to see two different types of monkeys (grivet and guereza) and enjoy the lakeside breezes.

After the park we headed right next door to the open air fish market. There were these insanely large scary prehistoric-looking birds with a ginormous wingspan. Kids (in an effort to get tips) would throw fish scraps high into the air for them to catch. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of them in action because I kept ducking to stay out of their way. Did I mention they were huge and scary looking?

At the market, fish were being cooked and sold in open air stands. Our driver asked if we minded if he got a bite to eat. Luckily being a vegetarian gave me a good excuse not to join him.

My mom and I were the only ferenji (foreigners) at the park or fish market and we stood out. The fish market was the only place in all of our Ethiopian travels that we were really harassed and surrounded. It was only by children asking for money so I never felt like we were in any danger but it definitely put a damper on the experience for us.

After Ayele finished up his fish lunch, we headed further south in the Sidama region. More to come in Part 2.