Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Daytrip from Addis

The Saturday before we left Ethiopia we visited a pretty little church called Debra Lebanos (the Lebanese Church). It's about a 2-hour drive along nice roads that cross all sorts of hillsides and villages and eventually end either at a good Ethiopian-German restaurant on a stunning arroyo with cliffside dining (an eagle actually swooped down and grabbed another patron's chicken thigh from his hand, it was incredible thing to see) or the church. There's also a Portugese-built bridge you can get to by following a trail from the German-Ethiopian restaurant. From the church you can hike to a hermit's cave in the nearby mountains.

Here we are waiting for our driver to pick us up for the day! Coffee.com, we love you. A 2-minute walk from our guesthouse to pretty much the best macchiatos we've ever tasted. All for 14 birr (90 cents.) Are you going to Ethiopia soon? If so, bring a to-go cup!

The church itself was not a highlight for us. It's 100 birr to enter, not a deal-breaker per se, but then they also had a sign that menstruating women were not allowed. I can't stand that kind of stuff. I told Eric in English that I didn't want to pay because I didn't want to support such misogynism, and then the priest immediately told me in English that if we didn't pay we couldn't hike in the surrounding grounds, either. So ha! And Ha!

Here is the church; you may notice we found a way to climb a mountain, anyway :)

We walked down the road a little and followed a little cobblestone trail we found, and we took that off into the hills. (If you're approaching the church, it's about 300 yards before the church entrance on the right.)

Beautiful views ...

And an hour later we hiked back down. The trail was definitely too tricky for Dessi.

But she could walk on the main road alright, there was no traffic almost at all, and the weather was absolutely perfect.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I thought this was hilarious.


She has some other ones about the things we mamas say to each other, which I thought was funny but then I started thinking it was kinda sad. Are we moms hard on each other? I guess we are. I know we're hard on ourselves. I'm lucky, for the past 15 years I have had ahMAZing friends (and now mamas) to share the world with; I've not experienced the cattiness that people so often associate with female friendships. I think it might depend on each person's tolerance for drama. Me, I can pick a drama mama out from 200 feet. I make wide circles around such people.

One of the finest books -- a total gift in the world -- I've ever read on motherhood is Karen Maezen Miller's book Mama Zen. It returns motherhood to service, meditation and open heartedness in a completely non-judgemental way. It stays on my bedstand, and I pick it back up any time I need a reminder that other people know, exactly, what I'm talkin about.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Best Guesthouse in Addis (IMHO)

On this past trip to Ethiopia, Dessi and I moved three times before we finally found the best guesthouse in all of Addis. (In fact, we didn't keep moving because we were searching for the best. We were simply looking for acceptable. But we found the best one, I am pretty sure.)

The guesthouse is called BJoe's, it is located downtown across from Makoush (the italian restaurant with the fun art gallery in front), down the street from the Edna Mall and a 2-minute walk from coffee.com (all these places are on Bole Road). So, the location is great but they're 500 feet down a dirt road so it's very quiet.

Nannies are available, and there are at any given time 2-4 exceptionally cool women in the house. It is run by Genet, who returned to Ethiopia last year after working in the US as an accountant for the past 20 years. She is awesome. A great resource, a kind spirit, and just the type of person who after one week you feel like you want to know her for the rest of your life.

Residents each receive a cellphone to use, and there is reliable internet.

The guesthouse has room for three families. I think there might be room for two more (they were building two new rooms while I was there) by early December, though. All the rooms are $85 per family. There are two one-bedroom rooms, and there are two two-bedroom adjoining rooms. Whether you want the single room or the two adjoining rooms, the price is the same -- $85 (total). You pay in USD when you check out.

The house is spread out on just one level and a downstairs, we were downstairs, it was a little bit cold but fine. It has wood / parquet floors and that makes it quiet, unlike the guesthouses that are highrises with tiled floors.

Laundry is free and breakfast is free. A tip for the whole staff of $50 to $100 per week is appropriate (according to the gladney literature -- this is traditionally a gladney house, but people from other agencies are welcome). You would want to tip anyway because those women rock -- anything I ever asked them about, they basically started climbing over each other to see how they could help me. They loved Dessi, but they really loved ALL the kids that were there.

Her email is gtafesse@gmail.com. Their phone in Ethiopia is 011 251 11 55 19 250.

I don't get kickbacks, btw! I just thought I would share.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Passing Court

Peace has come. The paper from MOWA has arrived. The judge has signed. The child is ours.

Here is Baby Adai, the newest little light of our lives.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Return from Ethiopia

We have met our baby and she is so beautiful, so amazingly perfect in every way, good natured (she was even smiling a bit) and seemed to be in good spirits and health and an absolute bright light. She can hold her head up well, roll over, she eats well and is just a calm little bug, always watching us, looking around, and then laughing a few times when we were really over the top ridiculous. She cried once for a few seconds when she was hungry, but seriously, mostly she was just checking it all out.

Dessi immediately took to the role of amazing big sister, when we all huddled together and tearily told her that this was her little sister, she very sweetly and softly kissed the baby's head and then just stared and stared at her. Then she started the examinations. She removed socks to compare feet and toes, checked out her mouth and hair, stroked her tiny head . . . she seemed to just get it. The orphanage, the adoption, the sister thing.

Everything went very well in Ethiopian court. We broght dessi along so we all met the judge, and we were approved as the parents for the baby. Technically, however, we did not pass court. The letter from MOWA was not there. It should be sorted out next week.

The thing was, I had not planned to return home after Ethiopian court. I had planned on doing One Long Stay and keeping the baby with me at the guesthouse until our US Embassy appointment six or seven weeks from now. But, because we didn't pass court and because would have extended my stay to an unknown degree (I mean, they say next week, but it could be the week after, let's be honest), I decided to return home with Eric and Dessi.

So, here I am. All along, returning home for a few weeks has seemed the right thing to do. So obvious and reasonable. But now I"m home, head reeling, heart busted open, empty crib waiting . . . let's just say, it's hard. Today is hard. If we pass our next court date (tomorrow), I'll return to Addis on Nov. 28 for One Long Stay -- Take TWO.

I have a lot more to say, about Dessi's and my adventures around Addis and the amazing guesthouse we stayed at, about Ethiopia Reads and friends we've made, hikes and massages and some places we ate. But for now I'm going to unpack and do some yoga and not think about Ethiopia for a little while.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Funny Face(s)

I thought I should make a record of the sweet nuttiness that is our life.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rainy days

School is closed this week, so it's just been me and Dessi and I have to tell you, it is a lot of work but I have missed these times of just hanging out with endless hours stretched before us.

This is her taking a picture of her favorite puzzle with her favorite camera. I personally do not like this puzzle, it is not very cleverly designed, I don't think, but she is really into it at the moment.

And this is rain. When it's not raining, it's about to. When it's neither raining nor about to rain, it's 100 degrees. So, take your pick. I think it's pretty obvious what Dessi would choose.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween in africa

We spent the morning making peanut butter cookies that I cleverly sprinkled with some allegedly all natural food sprinklings (orange) that I bought in Dakar. Very Martha Stewart of me, except that it turned out to have been salt colored with tumeric, so those cookies went right in the garbage, and then I had orange stain all over my clothes and hands for the rest of the day. Oh and my lips, too. Very gouhlish.

Then we visited with a bunch of europeans who, I will tell you, they had it going on. Somehow one woman had found TWO pumpkins (yes, they were brownish with yellow streaks, but c'mon), we carved those, had candy, did fingerpainting, and drank orange juice-laced vodka (all things orange were okay, at least for the adults).

But before all that, Dessi was a butterfly. At 3pm, she had wings, antennea and gossamer pink fabric floating from her arms. By 4pm, she looked like this. By 5pm, she just had two unraveling antennea, and by 630 she was pretty much naked. I don't argue with these things. I'm just the camera man.