Monday, January 19, 2009
The trip-from the beginning.
Day one- 01/10/2008
We began the day by leaving our three children at home with my parents. It was hard leaving them, but we knew that we would soon be a family of 6! As we left Delphi (where we live) the first song that we heard was Steven Curtis Chapman's song- Yours. This song has had special meaning to us since the first time that we heard it. We received a grant from his Show Hope organization and was able to meet Steven and pray with him, this was at the beginning of our adoption journey and it continues to linger with us. You can hear the song Yours on the left side of our blog (Track 02 at the top of the player).
We drove to Melissa's parents and they drove us and our luggage to Indianapolis International Airport to catch our flight. We had a United flight out of Indy at 2:30 pm. We arrive in Washington DC at Dulles airport and our flight left to Ethiopia at 8:30pm. Our flight to Ethiopia was on Ethiopian Airlines. We had a bit of difficulty as we checked in at the Ethiopian airlines desk in Washington. There was a 15 pound weight restriction on carry ons- we had no idea about that. Apparently no one else did either as most everyone had to pay for one of their carry ons. We paid $60.00 for our overweight carry on even after we tried to shuffle things into other bags.
We got onto the flight (which was completely full) and flew off to Rome. We had a 45 minute lay over in Rome for refueling, crew change and cleaning of the airplane. One of the things that we had difficulty with on the flight was the huge time change and they way that they served meals. It seemed that they were serving meals about every 2 hours and they would wake us up and would not allow us to refuse any food, you had to take a tray even if you didn't want one. At one point they even woke us up (at like 2:30 am) and gave us a warm, wet towel to wash off with. When they served meals they would turn on all the cabin lights to be sure we were all awake.
We finally arrived in Ethiopia and had to wait in line at the Visa office to get our Visas. Let me say that it was a long wait especially after an 18 hour flight. The people were very nice and understanding though. We met a couple of Australians who were going to spend 4 weeks trekking around Ethiopia. After we got through with our Visas we exchanged some money in the airport. We exchanged $100 US dollars, this lasted us most of our trip. The exchange rate is 10.6 to 1. 1 US Dollar = 10.6 Ethiopian Birr. After we exchanged money we went to the baggage claim for our baggage. We had four suitcases and two totes. The totes were both full of humanitarian aid for Gladney and other orphanages. We had a letter from Gladney inside the totes and taped to the outside. The totes were zip tied shut as well. We proceed to the security exit, which consisted of a very old xray machine and two security people. We put our bags through and everything was fine until they got to the totes. The guy running the xray machine wanted to know what was in the totes. I tried to explain to him that it was humanitarian aid, things for children etc. I even showed him the letter, but it was obvious that he did not speak much English. He motioned for a Supervisor to come over, this would make some folks nervous I am sure, but being in the Security business myself I understood. I explained to the Supervisor what was in the totes and he was very apologetic that the xray man had stopped us. He asked if we could open the totes to show him what was in it. It told him that is was no problem at all. He then asked if I had a knife or scissors to open it, I couldn't help but laugh! We had just gotte off of an airplane and he wanted to know if I had a knife. Well they managed to open one of the totes and the supervisor began to apparently brow beat the xray man and explain to him what the things were for. He then welcomed us to Ethiopia and thanked us for being so cooperative and apologized for the inconvenience.
We were met in the lobby of the airport by one of Gladney's drivers Tafessa. I cannot say enough good things about Gladney and their staff. All of the in country staff went out of their way for us. We climbed into the car with Tafessa and he realized that he did not have enough room for all of our luggage. He got another car (a cab) to carry our luggage to the guest house. It was amusing to see and hear him haggling with the cab driver in Amharic to carry our luggage. He was very apologetic and said that because we were Americans the cab driver was trying to inflate the price. Well we set off for the Guest House (Ayat House), on the way Taffessa asked if we needed anything (it was 10:30 pm). The only thing that we really needed was sleep. He did remind us that we would need bottled water to brush our teeth and to drink. He stopped at a grocery store and got us some bottled water.
Tafessa was a professional driver who we really appreciated. He was very courteous and thoughtful. We arrived at the Guest house at about 11:00 pm and were met at the gate by the owner of the house. I will dedicate another whole post (or 2) to the amazing Ayat House and it's owner Wegayehu and his housekeeper Zemmet. There was another family staying at Ayat house who would be leaving the next morning, we felt bad that we had disturbed them so late at night. We went directly to bed, exhausted and excited to meet Abeba the next day.