Tuesday, February 22, 2011

From Ethiopia - Post 10 - Monday - Awassa & Northward

I don't know that I'd call my sleep on Sunday night restful; it was more just complete and utter exhaustion, mentally and physically.  Regardless, the room was fairly nice, albeit hot!!  We really wanted to sleep with the windows open, but our screens didn't lock into place and were right at ground level so we were leery to just leave them so that anyone walking by could push them to the side and climb right in our window.  We ended up leaving them open for as long as we could, then we shut the windows in the room, but left the bathroom window open with one of those OFF mosquito repellent fans running by the window to try to keep the mosquitos out.  I don't know if it was the fan or if the mosquitoes just weren't bad that night, but we never saw a single mosquito while we were staying the night in the southern region where we had to worry about Malaria.  Figures.  Paid for and took those meds for nothing.

We actually got a wi-fi connection and I was able to check email on the NetBook for the first time the whole trip.  I got an email from Workineh at the guest house, telling us that they had the cribs and beds in all the rooms, ready for the kids, and that he hoped that our trip was going well.  What a sweetheart that man is!

Our room in Awassa

The bathroom was a bit of a tease.  It had this fancy shower with all these different jets AND we had hot water, although it took forever for it to get hot.  Unfortunately, when I attempted to try out the fancy shower, the water pressure was not great enough to actually use the fancy jets and so instead of a hot water massage, I got sprinkled with then freezing cold water (apparently all hot was lost in the attempt to change the jets!).  It was quite a disappointment.  Eric laughed hysterically at me as I whimpered, and yelled, and panicked, trying to change the jets back to the nice, hand-held shower nozzle with hot water!

The teaser shower in Awassa

We met up with the others in the restaurant for breakfast at 8:30-ish.  After a breakfast of deep-fried French toast (a tad rich for breakfast!), we headed out to the vans to load back up and drive north to Addis.  We were told that Awassa is a spa/resort area.  A wealthy area if you will.  I guess in some ways, it was more 'upscale', but not really.  Eric loved seeing these:

Ethiopian chariots

and he kept joking about Chariots of Fire.  It did seem as though there were more 'wagon' type vehicles on the road.  The drive was just as beautiful as it had been on the way down to Durame.

We actually weren't on the road long, before we stopped again.  Tesfaye had mentioned something about "taking us to see the lake".  We all thought that we were just making a quick stop to sight-see at Lake Awassa.  We pulled into a gated resort and the drivers parked for us to get out.  Several of us left our bags in the vans because we thought we were just stopping for a few minutes.  Turns out, that after we had been there for a while, we discovered that one of the vans was gone, and that the Holt staff and social workers (who were riding back up to Addis with us) were gone.  Someone informed us that they had left to go to a meeting in Awassa and that they should be back in 30 minutes or so.  It would have been nice to have known that was what we were doing, because I had no purse, no money, no tissues (for the bathroom), and no sunscreen (and it was sunny & hot!).

It was beautiful there though!  Our travel group joked that, in a few years, we're all going back to Ethiopia and we are staying there -- at the Lewi Resort and Spa.  We figured we'd plan on a mission trip while we're there, but that we'd stay at the spa - kind of the best of both worlds.  It was right on Lake Awassa.  We were told that occasionally, you can see hippos in the water (although we didn't see any).  We did, however, see a lot of monkeys all around the resort as well as 2 bald eagles in a tree by the parking lot!  There was a beautiful pool with swinging basket chairs and hammocks, a mini-golf course, and a restaurant on the patio right along the water.  There were boat docks and beautiful little villas.  The public bathroom even had toilet paper and soap!!   ;-)  (thank goodness since I didn't have my tissues!)

Mariah and her mom toured one of the villas.  She said they were beautiful.  I can't remember now, but I think the quoted price to stay in one was $120 US/night!!  Seriously, if you want to go to a beautiful resort for cheap, try one in Ethiopia!  We chuckled because the man who was giving them the tour was very proud of the fact that at their hotel, each room comes with 2 towels AND washcloths.

Eric had his wallet in his pocket so we sat down on the patio by the lake and drank a soda while we waited.  We sat in the parking lot for a while and watched the monkeys.  They would come down right by you and were very playful.  While we were drinking our sodas, we laughed because there was a breakfast buffet still set up under some tents along the patio and the monkeys were sneaking in and climbing up on the tables and stealing food.  The workers would get mad and chase them away.  Justin tried to get bread to feed them but was told that you're not allowed to feed the monkeys.  haha!  I guess it's like the geese at the lake that we visit in the summer -- you don't feed them or they'll never leave! 

The pool at the Lewi Resort

The villas by the lake

The walkway down to the patio area, pool, and lake

a monkey just sitting on the rail by the parking lot

the patio by the lake (tents on the right are where the buffet was)

mini-golf, Ethiopian style!

Beautiful, Lake Awassa

Lake Awassa

patio area where we sat and drank a soda

Eric and I at Lewi Resort on Lake Awassa
Traffic as we are driving north again

more wagons

There was some confusion with the schedule again.  We had been told that we would be stopping at a grocery store for those who had children who were still drinking formula to purchase the formula that their children would need.  Then, we were being told that we were behind schedule and we weren't stopping, which upset us because...uh....well, it's not OUR fault we're behind schedule.  YOU are the ones who dumped us off at a hotel for almost an hour while you went to a meeting.  Anyway, it worked out and after we visited a few grocery stores, people found what they needed in the way of ET snacks, formula, etc.

We were taken to the guest house to basically drop our stuff off, then we went to the care centers to pick up our kids.  We traveled along with the others while they picked up their kiddos, then some of them who were in our van went with us to CC3 to get Markos.  We all had a little laugh when we piled in the vans at the first care center because as we sat in the seats and were waiting for everyone to get in, one of Stephanie and Mike's boys started to get upset and cry.  Stephanie then started to get upset because she thought he didn't want to leave.  None of us knew what he was saying, but when one of the Holt staff came over, he started to laugh because he was basically freaking out because the van door was open and he was insisting that we can't drive with the door open and wanted us to shut the door.  Stephanie was very relieved that not only was her son not upset to leave, he was very safety conscious!  :-)

When we pulled in to CC3, Markos was in that same common room and the nanny walked him out immediately.  We hugged and said hi, then immediately were ushered into the little office by the common room to change Markos' clothes.  The care center is always short on clothes and shoes, so they prefer that you bring clothes and shoes to change your child into when you take them.  You basically get to take the child, but nothing else.  So, we changed Markos quickly and gave her the clothes and shoes that he was wearing, and that was it, we were free to go.  It was strange.  Markos would have been totally happy to jump onto the "mini-bus", but I urged him to go say goodbye to his friends.  The nanny gave him a kiss and a hug and she had him peek his head into the room where all the other kids were sitting.  He smiled and waved emphatically as he said "ciao!" to his friends and they all yelled goodbye to him.  It was very sweet, but sad, too.

Markos was also fairly safety conscious and insisted on sitting on the seat and on buckling his seat belt.  The other kids had all done the same, so we could tell that the nannies must make them sit with their seat belts buckled anytime they're taken anywhere.  He was very attentive to watching out the window as he nervously grinned at us over and over.  Stephanie and Mike's twins were singing, as they often did, and began to chant, "America, America" over and over.  Very cute.  But, the funny thing was, when we pulled into the guest house where we were staying, we are pretty sure that the kids all thought it WAS America!!  They would talk about America whenever we'd pull into the guest house gates the rest of the time we had custody in Ethiopia.  All I could think was, "wow - if you think this is America, just wait until you really see it!"

We had ordered dinner prior to leaving for Durame the day before because we knew we'd get back to the guest house right at dinner time.  So, we headed downstairs and had our first meal together.   After we ate, we went upstairs and happily found that there was some hot water so we washed Markos.  Our tub did not have a stopper, so it was more of a modified shower, but Markos thought the sprayer was hilarious!   At first, he was panicked and didn't want to get washed.  I suspect that the kids frequently had to endure freezing cold baths at the care center and it had not been a pleasant experience for most of them.  However, once he realized that the water was warm, he loved it.  He also loved that he could control the sprayer by turning the water on and off.  Oh, how I wish I could post the video of his naked little body standing in the tub, turning the water on and off, laughing hysterically every time.  It is the cutest thing EVER, but alas, I don't want to be arrested for kiddie porn or anything, so I shall refrain from sharing that little gem (until he's a teenager and has his first girlfriend, then maybe...)

Markos ready for his first meal in the guest house
Markos with his very favorite toy!

OOH, and the ear buds are pretty cool, too!

Once he was clean and all lotioned up, we put his jammies on him and we were all ready to crash - Markos in his twin bed next to ours, and us in the queen bed.  He went to sleep surprisingly well and stayed asleep all night.  I, on the other hand, tossed and turned all night worrying that he was going to fall out of the bed because he's a very restless/active sleeper!  Well, that and the fact that he was with us!  After everything the past year, he was actually in OUR custody!  Praise God!

Clean, moisturized, and ready for bed

You mean, I can really sleep WITH my new radio?!  Awesome!


  1. Oh my word, he is so cute! And thanks for posting the pics of Awassa and the Lake resort. Maybe next trip we will go stay there for a few days. It looks beautiful! And, I saw a pool! Double score!

  2. I just love reading "our" story. :0) I laughed out loud at the kiddie porn part--you are soo funny. Soo happy to have shared this trip with you--yes, some day we will hopefully return together and stay at the villa. It was quite amazing....monkey germs and all. ;0)

  3. Umm, I'm a little jealous of these pics. I heard about a lake stop when we were there last May but we never stopped there. Hmm, I wonder why. Maybe because of the rain! Who knows.