Friday, December 17, 2010

I Pad Raffle and Apologies

HI all
I first want to send you over to this site to get to know the  Chetham's and have an opportunity to participate in a great raffle for an I Pad to help fund thier trip for thier little one!!!

Second, I want to apologize for not posting.....Hana's been home since October 9th--Yeah---overall things are going well, just hectic.  I've been ruminating about designing a new blog that represents all of our family happenings...I've just not decided what I want to do.

So, stay tuned---either for an update on the last few travel days of our first trip and details of our 2nd trip--or for the 'new' and hopefully more frequently updated blog :)


Monday, September 6, 2010

Travel Days 10-11 Lalibela to Addis Ababa (aka July 24-25)

On travel day 10, we were supposed to have a 'short hike' (read here about 2 hours) up Lalibela mountain to see the city from the mountain top.  We would have also had the option to ride a donkey instead of walk.  Its rumored to be an absolutely beautiful hike and majestic views....praise God it came a monsoon the night before and was still raining the morning so we had an excuse were unable to do the hike.  I was NOT looking forward in my ill state to a long hike...although I was feeling more human by this point.  The girls were a bit disappointed as they wanted to ride the donkey.  We assured them we'd find a donkey at some point for them to sit on. 

It takes 2 days by private car to get from Lalibela back to Addis (about three for those souls who brave bus travel).  It is about 600 kn or 372 might be thinking a days drive..with a couple of stops.....but these aren't normal miles.  These miles look like this

Going thorugh a larger town on our way to Kombolcha, where we spent the night on our way back to Addis.

Such a familiar sight, people walk EVERYWHERE, miles and miles to get to the next village or market.  It was rare to see a personal car.

These small 2-3 person motor taxis were a very common sight especially in villages.

Everyone gets a little tired after walking....note this is a two lane road!

More walking

More twists and turns...and for weary travelers prone to car sickness...God created Dramamine!

Finally, on our last day we saw some camels!  The girls had been hoping to see some since we read you can often buy them in a town marketplace. 

We did make it back to Addis though (though delayed a little by a flat tire and a harrowing short detour up and over a mountain due to a closed road.  We made it to our hotel Green Valley where we got changed and headed to meet Hana!
Our hotel is on the right.  We wer on the top floor, third window from the left.  This wasn't our photo, it was from someone who previously stayed at the green valley....I stole from a wikipedia entry :)  I'm all about full disclosure.

(for those of you paying attention, you'll note a change in the spelling of Hana's name from Hanna to Hana.  We found out a few days ago, that the official spelling of her name is only with 1 'n'. So we'll spell it this way from now on unless she wants to change it.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Travel Day 8-9--Gondar to Lalibela and a Day in Lalibela (aka July 22-23)

Travel Day 8 started out with feeling sligtly better than the day before. This is when the upper respiratory symptoms started to set in for me (sore throat, cough). I also insisted Tony and I start the Cipro today.  We still both hada bit of a stomach thing going this morning too.  We had a great breakfast--I couldn't eat it, but it was good. Mangos are quite proliferative in this region so fresh squeezed mango juice quickly became a favorite of Sarah's...We'll forever remember Sarah's catchy tune every meal after that while we were waiting for her order of mango....
I want my MANGO juice....
I Want my mango juice.....
I want MY mango juice...

The trip from Gondar to Lalibela also brought us in contact with a squat toilet.  If you want more information about this....feel free to google it.  Find the worst example you can...insert that picture in your brain.  The girls were smart  yet unaffected with the upset stomach portion of this illness so they refused chose not to go near the thing.  Tony and I had no choice.  I had to visit 2 separate ones on 2 separate occassions.  Fortunately our tummy woes were not long lived.

We arrived at the Mountain View Hotel after a several hour drive from Gondar. The landscape was amazing and we saw many small villages along the way.  We also spent about 2 hours on a VERY bumpy rocky road that did lots of twisting and winding in order to get to Lalibela.  The scenery was worth it though.  Also, this was probablly the nicest hotel we stayed at throughout our journey.  If we go back, we'll definitely stay here agian. The restaurant was phenomenal as well.  Here are some views...

a Gelada babboon we saw on our way to Lalibela

A typical village we saw as we were nearing Lalibela

up close picture of a completed dwelling (right) and an in process dwelling (left)

The view from our hotel...Yes, really.  There was a tunderstorm moving in.

We pretty much just hung out on the hotel on Thursday afternoon.  We all took naps, played cards. I started getting a lot sicker here, fever, chills, body aches and the upper respiratory thing was really taking off. The girls and Tony had dinner in the restaurant and I rested. They did bring me some great bread and a coke though :) 
The next morning, I was thinking I officially had either contracted the plague or Typhoid Fever and was completely bedredden.  This was unfortunately the part of the trip I was looking most forward to, but the upper respiratory thing had really set in and I was coughing and with the altitude, had difficulty catching my breath...yes, the thought that I was several hours (even 2 hours by plane) from a 'real' even remotely westernized hospital did cross my mind. Tony was feeling much better and the girls were as ready to get moving as ever. I opted to stay put in the hotel and sleep (and look out the window) and they went to visit the rock hewn churches of Lalibela. Fortunately they took LOTS of pictures.  Their day was broken in 2 parts....churches, a break for lunch, then more churches.  Take a look....

Tony and the girls really loved visiting all the churches and seeing not only the architecture but the art too.  I'm hoping one day when we go back to visit Ethiopia, that I'll be able to return to Lalibela to visit the churches myself. It took 23 years to carve out these churches. They are carved DOWN into the rock--out of solid stone....what a remarkable tribute to our God.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pregnancy vs Adoption

Ok--this is NOT going to be a controversial post...just comparing some of the milestones of pregnancy to milestones to adoption....Here it goes...Below are some of the "biggies" in pregnancy, followed by their adoption milestones, followed by when they happened to us, followed by what week it would correlate to in the pregnancy....check it out

Have your last period = Mail in your application = 1/4 = Wk 0
Conception = Agency contract = 1/11 = Wk 2
Positive Pregnancy Test = Get your dossier packet in the mail = 2/11 = Wk 5
Morning Sickness = Homestudy visit = 3/5 = Wk 8
First hear the heartbeat = Dossier mailed to agency = 4/3 = Wk 12.5
Ultrasound time = First see the picture and info of your child = 4/5 = Wk 13
Feel flutters of movement = Mail your acceptance papers to agency = 4/28 = Wk 16
"Big" ultrasound mid pregnancy = Case submitted for court = 6/14 = Week 22
Diabetic screening = Appeared in court = 7/28 = Week 27
Braxton Hicks contractions = New Birth Certificate issued = 8/19 = Week 31
Labor = Leave to bring your child home =   +/- 10/4 = Week 39
Delivery = Moment you step into your home and have all your kiddos with you  +/- 10/10 = Week 40

I think everyone has thier own equivalent milestones....What are your?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Travel Day 7--Bahir Dar to Gondar (aka July 21)

So...this is the day where the sickness set it.  It started off innocently enough...we got up to our alarm. Tony didn't feel too well...tummy troubles...But we were chalking it up to our previous night's dinner while excellent--and NOT too spicy--we live in Texas for goodness sakes--the spices are very different and are said to upset the delicate tummies of Americans.  "I" felt ok other than not hungry...not unusual for me in the early morning.  The girls ate better than morning than any other one!  We headed out for Gondar. The ride was lovely, pretty countryside and uneventful.  Tony's tummy troubles appeared to resolve by the time we got into Gondar.  Mine, however, kicked in the moment we stepped out of the car to visit the wonderful castles of Gondar.  We were able to see the castles and enjoyed them, but by the time we got to the hotel a short time later, we were both achey, upset tummies, fever and chills. Tony and the girls went to lunch and to visit another church, I stayed in bed under much covers shivering.  Remembr, its cold here and Gondar had the worst weather in terms of temperature. But, this day was not ALL are some pics...

We naturally played it low key in Gondar.  Like I said, I slept all afternoon and evening too.  We both started feeling better but it was just a cruel joke. Fortunately, the girls were happy having a dinner of peanut butter and crackers that night.  More to come 'tomorrow.'

Friday, August 13, 2010

Travel Day 6--Bahir Dar and Blue Nile Falls (aka July 20)

This day will be infamous in our trip, but we won't know it for another day or two.  It started out great enough. Good pancakes in the restaurant in our hotel---the Summerland Hotel.  The girls liked them and gobbled them down faster than you can say 'pass the syrup.'  We headed out then for our boat tour of Lake Tana.  Bahir Dar actually means next to the lake.  Lake Tana is HUGE.  It is the largest lake in Ethiopia and Bahir Dar is often referred to as the Riveria of Ethiopia.  It has many hotels, several on the lake, and many Ethiopians visit here during the year for vacations and weekend getaways.

It was raining this morning so our boat tour started late.  I had imagined pontoon like boats but NO.  They aren't is a picture of  a similiar boat...
This boat is nicer.  Ours had a blue tarp covering that had seen many better days as well as a motor that was severely underpowered.  Not bad but the motor kept sounding like it was going to die at any moment so somewhat scarry.  It took abut 30 minutes on the boat to reach our destination.

What destination you might ask?  The monastaries.  There are several monasteries that were built on the islands and coast of Lake Tana as early as the 14th century.  There were 4 stops with 5 monastaries to see.  We did not visit the first (as we were told the 3rd and 4th were the best).  Tony visited the 2nd (as men only are allowed there) and we all visited the 3rd and 4th.  The fifth was a brief stop and none of us saw that one.

Monastaries on Lake Tana
The Good---they are beautiful.  The artwork/paintings that depict the Word of God are very easy to interpret and I was fascinated how they transcended culture, language and generations.

The Bad:
This is the muddy rainy season.  It is wet, it is slick. Yes, I fell.  Luckily I was NOT carrying any camera equipment in my back pocket as that is what cushioned my fall.  It was a wet and slippery walk up hill and a trecherous treck down hill as the rain really began in ernest once we reached the top of our 20ish minute hike.

We were able to see where the Nile River starts at the outlet of Lake Tana....

and the boat we could have been riding on.....
After finishing our boat tour (in the driving rain) we got back to the hotel, had a snack and a brief rest then set out for Blue Nile Falls.  This was the highlight of the trip in terms of scenery.  The drive there was an hour on a VERY bad dirt road full of potholes and your teeth were rattling by the time you stopped.  But, the trip was well worth it. It was a 20 minute light hike to the falls.....

There are actually 3 falls, and they are NOT blue and rarely are.  Since this is the rainy season, there is a lot of runoff into Lake Tana from the higher elevations so the water is very churned up and BROWN--just like the lake.

We got back to our hotel and had a great meal of traditional Ethiopian food and Ethiopian Beer....St George's.  It was great. It was also the first time we had 'national' food since arriving to Ethiopia.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Plan to test my memory...

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, this is all I actually real timed wrote while in Ethiopia.  Yes, I journaled 5 day of my 12 day trip.  Better than I actually thought.  I'm hoping to keep doing some "late entry" journaling about our trip before I forget any special points so check back soon.....