"Every child deserves a home." --Harry Holt

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ethiopia Travel Memoir: Day 4 In Country 5/18

**These are based on my thoughts and feelings while on the trip. Some events may come across clouded and foggy due to our high emotional state while encountering each event.**
Tylenol PM is such a great thing. I was pretty amped up yesterday from the flurry of emotions, and was busy trying to tell myself that it wasn't emotional pain I was feeling due to leaving my heart in an orphanage for another undetermined about of time.

When I woke up our room was so stuffy. I was a gross, ball of sweat. WE couldn't have any windows open because the Lewi Hotel in Awassa is right on a main road. So much honking, people talking, animals carousing, you get the picture. So, we showered up (realized we had to share a towel after it was too late), and checked out of our room. I think the room cost about $30.00 USD. Wow! Can't even stay in a Motel 6 for that! Plus, there was a decent continental breakfast. I wioke up with a shaky tummy (notice a theme?), so I didn't get very adventurous with breakfast. 

We were on a different road than the one we took to Durame. This one seemed more smooth (even though the majority of the trip to Durame wasn't bumpy. This one seemed more well done.) There was, however, more vehicle traffic. That coupled with the same amount of pedestrians and livestock created some extra stop-and-go situations. By this time, I was more than confident that our driver would keep us safe, but I wasn't so sure about the other drivers! There was a handful of times that vehicles going the opposite direction would use our 'lane' (and I'm using that term loosely) to pass. Americans may be a greedy bunch on the whole, bu in my midwest driving experience, we tend to be generous with the amount of space we use for 2 lane road passing. These drivers thought nothing of swerving out right in front of us.
Do you see how close that vehicle is to us?? Gah!
The total trip back took just under 5 hours (I think this is a pretty good estimation since I never wore a watch and seemed to have a terrible concept of time while in country). The end of the road trip was probably the 'worst' part. I was tired and feeling a little yucky, and the increased traffic, plus lots of diesel exhaust didn't help. Once we were back at the Jemimah (home), I felt better since I could stretch my legs, and breath in less exhaust. Based on our schedule, we had the rest of the day off from official business. It was nice to have some 'free' time, but I would have loved having our court date immediately the next day. I was P.R.A.Y.I.N.G. with all my might that we would pass court (meaning our MOWCYA letter would be in our file.
With the rest of the day off, I thought it would be a good opportunity to head to the art gallery. I was hoping to find 1 or 2 pieces for a couple of our 'naked' walls. Our house is in some serious need of Ethiopia-fying. We found out the guest house driver was already booked by other guests. Based on my current theme of horning in on the fun others are planning, I asked what the other couples were planning. It turned out some of our 'new peeps' were going shopping and wouldn't mind stopping at the art gallery, too (some things came up and we ended up going to the art gallery the next day, instead)! Perfect, count us in! We went shopping at the "Post Office" area. There was an issue for another family shortly after we arrived at the shops. We were fine with the driver going back to the guest house and picking us up later. We created quite the scene outside of the shops (people in need of food). By now, this was a common occurrence wherever we ventured, but in never ceased to be HEART-WRENCHING. It is impossible to look into the eyes of another human being, and not physically feel their pain when they are asking for food. I felt like the worst example of a rude, greedy, stupid American. There are people that are asking for food, and I am SHOPPING of all things. Shopping for things I really, really could survive without. One of the people with us made the point (which I so appreciated), that it is making an important structural difference to purchase things and support the economy, but it doesn't make it any easier to see the pain first-hand. The driver returned for us, just as we were finishing our shopping. We handed out every single granola bar, trail mix, cracker pack and fruit snack that we had. I will never forget the look on the face of the woman (who could easily have passed for 14 years old), breast-feeding her baby when I handed her a granola bar. It was the look of relief and then a smile to express her gratitude. Seriously, her expression broke me. A lousy granola bar. The world is not fair. It is overwhelming (even now) to know how I can make a dent or difference. I'm still looking and praying for guidance. 

I can hear the voices of some well-meaning people saying, "but you are saving the life of your daughter. She is so lucky," because I've heard it many times before. In reality, she is saving us, we are the lucky ones. The journey to our daughter has already forever changed us. We have immense gratitude for her first mom for choosing life and allowing us the opportunity to love and parent our daughter. When speaking to any adopting family, eventually the realization will be made that while adoption is such a beautiful journey, it is equally a complex, nuanced process. A process that is steeped in loss just as it is in beauty. When we bring Cupcake home, she will become an American citizen when we pass through customs. Surely, this is a moment we will celebrate. Simultaneously, it is a moment we will mourn. She will no longer be a part of her birth country and culture. She will no longer look like the majority. She has already lost her first family. The very existence and necessity of adoption is both beautiful and ugly. Certainly, we will be blessed (and already are) by the presence of her in our lives. We've made a covenant to afford her as many educational, familial and loving opportunities as possible, but really is that even enough? Is that 'saving' her? No. If it is the choice between life or death by starvation or preventable illness, we choose life for her (obviously). We and her first mother already made that choice, and put those choices into action. We aren't her saviors, though. Her savior was crucified on a cross. I don't plan on doing that (just sayin', God). I can't even explain how we truly started on this journey. I will give a different answer or anecdote depending on the moment I'm asked the question of 'how' or 'why' we came to this process. It was like a whisper that couldn't be ignored. At some point, it went from a whisper to a push, until finally we jumped with both feet (and I think we were blindfolded!). My eyes are open, now! They are open due to this first trip and all that we experienced. 

Okay, that rant is over...

I really did make some beautiful purchases in Ethiopia. I got the idea from a blog (I think), to make an effort to purchase things that could be gifted to our daughter on her birthday each year (plus gifts for graduation and her wedding). This seemed like a lot of pressure, but we really want to be able to do as many things as we can to honor her birth country. This seemed like one small way to do so. I still have some things to find and purchase, but I made a pretty good dent in my shopping list.
'Some'  of our purchases
On this day, we signed up for "Injera School," at the guest house for dinner. Injera (for those who may not know, because I had no clue before starting this process) is a 'spongy' bread that is eaten with each Ethiopian meat and sauce dish. The analogy that I've most often heard is that it is like a spongy pancake with a slight sour taste. This is an appropriate comparison. I think of it as Ethiopian silverware. Ethiopian main dishes tend to be thick, soupy, runny sauces (wot) with distinct spices (we bought a ton of berbere), and often some type of beef or chicken (tibs or doro). You rip off a piece of injera and pinch your main dish up in it and enjoy! We didn't get the chance to make the "batter" (most likely because they didn't want us to mess any of it up). We did polish the cooking surface or the 'injera skillet' and then pour the batter on. Our 'teacher' made it look so graceful and easy. Her injera was a perfect circle. Mine was full of uneven edges and she had to get me extra batter to fill in my 'holes.' Oops! Also, she took the injera off of the skillet for me. I think she was too nervous to let me do it since I made a big deal about the skillet being so hot and 'doesn't that burn your fingers?!' Even the Ethiopian people are clued into my kitchen ineptness! :) Obviously, we finished the evening wit an Ethiopian dinner! It was yummy. It was 3 different dishes that I hadn't tried yet. I liked the one with lentils the best, but I have no clue what it is actually called!

Honey, you missed a spot! :)

Clearly, I am excited!

It's not perfect, but it looks better than I remember... (maybe this is someone else's?
I think my 2nd favorite things on this trip (the 1st being able to finally meet Cupcake, of course) is all of the AMAZING people we had the opportunity to meet. The other adopting families are incredible. It is was so fun to chat with 'like-minded' people that we were sharing the experience with. It was especially fun to meet families that were on their 2nd or 3rd adoption (Ethiopia, Korea, China, etc.) It is encouraging to know people do survive the process. It also proves that you become so damaged and unhinged that your memory of the complexity and at times painful the process is can be erased. Instead, you are left with the fun, adrenaline pumping, endorphin flying memories, which trick you into starting the process over from scratch. (I mean this in jest, of course).

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