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

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ethiopia Travel Memoir: Day 5 In Country 5/19

** These are based on my thoughts and feelings while on our trip. Some events may come across clouded and foggy due to our high emotional state while encountering each event.**
We had a difficult time falling asleep (again) this night. I was thinking I was tired enough not to need Tylenol PM, and we didn't have to get up early for anything. At some point, I dozed off, but I was up at about 6am. This was a day of no set schedule for us. One of the families we traveled to Durame with (and another family that didn't need to make the trip) had court, and our court day is the following day. We made the trip to Durame a day earlier than we would have needed, except we needed to travel with the family that had court on 5/19. Does this make sense to anyone besides me?
It rained both on our way back from Durame and in Addis. It was hard to watch people scavenge for shelter like this guy outside of our Guest House.
With no set schedule, we decided to just laze around in bed until about 7:40. It was nice to take our time getting up and getting ready, but I wouldn't have minded rushing around for our court appointment! We had made arrangements to go out on an 'adventure' with a couple of people. We ventured to the Merkato, which is the largest open-air marketplace in Africa. It covers several square miles and it is pretty packed! When I pictured it, my only reference point must have been Midwestern Farmers' Markets. Ummmmm, no. Instead, there were vehicles (including ours) driving right down the streets that were barely big enough for vehicles because the merchandise and people were EVERYWHERE. One of our travel mates made the comment that the Merkato sold literally everything. You could buy what you needed to furnish AND build your house (this rang true as we were nearly beheaded by  a guy carrying sheet rock on his head). When we parked the van (in a spot that shouldn't have allowed us to fit according to physics, but somehow did), there was a gentleman waiting to escort us around. I have no idea if this was pre-arranged or not. We had heard that the Merkato is not necessarily the safest for 'ferenji' (foreigners), mostly due to risk of pick-pocketing. Our driver said to me right away that we were to stay close to him. MmmmmmmK. No problem! At first, I thought our other escort was excited to just show us around. It hit me after 5 minutes that we would need to tip him for his services. I don't have an explanation for why I tend to be so dense sometimes. At any rate, his English was pretty good, and he was friendly. 
If I could describe Merkato in one word, chaos would have to be that word. It was an experience I was glad to have and share with others. I purchased another traditional dress for Cupcake as she gets older. We also purchased Berbere spice ( and we definitely overpaid for it). We wanted an injera mat, but our driver was adamant that we were being overcharged tremendously, so we didn't purchase it. That's on my list for the next trip! I spoke with our escort on the way back to our vehicle. I asked him where he learned English, and he explained that he learned it in Kenya, as he was a refugee. I would have LOVED the opportunity to hear more about his story. 
I didn't get great pictures of our time at Merkato, because I didn't even think to snap photos until we were leaving. This was our Kenyan Escort, Jeremiah.

Our next stop was the coffee shop, Tomoca. We had been there the day before, but one of the couples we were with hadn't been there yet and obviously needed to buy some Ethiopian coffee (the birthplace of coffee is Ethiopia). I ended up buying a 2nd (larger) traditional coffee pot (so sad that the smaller one broke on our trip home! Another thing on my list for next trip...I'm bringing bubble wrap this time!). I was amazed that the group of people that gathered around us at Tomoca asking for $ or food, was recognizable from our stop there the day before. One of our travel mates tried to offer one of the gentleman some crackers, but he only wanted money. That struck me as interesting because that was the first time that had been the case in my experience in ET. I was running out of snacks, so I ended up giving the few birr that I had on me. We also realized that our driver paid change to a gentleman to watch the van (we recognized him from the day before, as well). We tipped him for his good work. When he felt people were getting too pushy, he would kind of fend them off. Definitely, the most interesting addition to the crowd of people was the gentleman trying to sell us pills. It could have been Immodium for all I know, maybe he thought we looked bloated? Buying pills was where I had to draw a line. I think it was the first time someone tried to sell me drugs.
Inside Tomoca
Next stop was an Ethio-Supermarket. It was here that we realized we had overpaid for the Berbere that we purchased at Merkato. Oh, well. Hopefully the spice salesguy got a good laugh (and handsome profit) at the expense of the stupid Americans! The supermarket didn't have teff flour (used in injera) or Bebelac formula, so that was a bust for our fellow shoppers, but K was satisfied with his "Ethiopian Oreo" and "Teddy Grams" purchase. He grew a little alarmed that I gave away all of our snacks (which is what they were for, but he wanted a couple for the plane ride home). The difference is, we had the resources to pop into a market to buy more snacks. 

We moved into our current home about a year ago (yes, this applies to our trip). I've done fairly well getting it decorated, but have purposefully left a few spots, "naked." I think our home should represent our family, and now we are an Ethio-American family. I had asked around about Ethiopian Art, and I heard from a handful of people about Makush which is both an Italian restaurant and Ethiopian Art Gallery. One of the families that we traveled to Durame with had been there the day before and picked 2 pieces that they raved about. Not everyone in our shopping group wanted to go (I think because they had heard it was expensive), but it was super close to the Ethio-supermarket (2 doors down), so everyone relented and came in. The pieces were beautiful. I was able to narrow it down to 2 pieces (but I wasn't sure I could afford both...) In the end, we purchased both, and they were worth every penny. Life has been crazy since getting home, so I'm excited to get them re-stretched and hung up! We had a couple of great moments at Makush. One of the ladies with us wasn't planning on buying anything. She saw a particular piece, and just started crying. At first, I was worried there was something horribly wrong. She explained that the piece of a beautiful Ethiopian woman in a wheat field just broke her down. She was in Ethiopia on her 2nd trip (Embassy trip), and they had taken custody of their beautiful daughter. They had the opportunity to meet a member of the birth family a few days earlier. Their daughter's first mother lived in a village where the family grew wheat. She and her husband also grow wheat. What a powerful connection. The piece was meant to be hanging in their home. I love living vicariously through others! The second moment was with the owner of Makush, and he was incredibly kind. He asked our group if we were adopting. We all said yes, and he told us that any family adopting Ethiopian children was entitled to a discount from him. Admittedly, I was a little taken aback. The Ethiopian people are somewhat divided on international adoption. From what I've been told and read, some people feel that we are coming in and "taking" their children (which in a sense is true). Others may disagree with parenting methods. Others, see it and feel it is a stark image of how Ethiopia has failed. Every Ethiopian that I met was kind, caring and wonderful. They want nothing more than to take care of others, including their people. It is an unfair world where international adoption is needed, at all. I think Harry Holt said it best when he said, "Every child deserves a home." Adoption will not solve the need for all of the children, but we really do feel like it is at least one small piece to the puzzle. The Makush owner made it clear that his belief is that it is a good thing that the children that we DO adopt will be offered opportunities that Ethiopia cannot currently provide. He said the problem for families is currently greater than Ethiopia's resources. Hopefully that won't always be true.
Inside Makush (taken from Google Images)
We spent the majority of the rest of the day at the Guest House. We spent time swapping stories and getting to know other families. It was relaxing, but I was definitely anxious to head to court, in the morning. Did sleep elude me once again??


Sharon said...
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Becky Nakashima Brooke said...

Love this post! I want to see the art:) Thanks for sharing:)


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