After our visit to Workineh's church, he took us shopping to an area that he knew well. We wanted some different things than we had seen in the typical tourist shopping areas. He graciously helped us all negotiate prices for our purchases. I felt a little guilty about this whole process, because frankly, I'd have paid the originally quoted prices (which were generally significantly higher for us white folks). The thing is, they were still CHEAP! And, really, do I need the money more, or do they? But, Workineh kept insisting that, "no, it's not right. It's not worth that." and so he would squabble with the sellers, occasionally telling us "no. we're leaving." Mariah had me laughing at one point because she looked at me as we walked away and said with a sad face, "But I really wanted that!" Workineh said we'd go back later, and we did, and I believe she got the dresses (for less than the original price). I understand that bargaining is just part of shopping in some areas, but I'm just not a negotiator when it comes to buying stuff - which is why I generally hate shopping for cars!
Some of us had decided that we very much wanted to buy Bibles in Amharic while we were there, so we had Workineh take us some place where we could buy them. He took us to a very small book store, containing all religious material. When Eric and I had exchanged money for this trip, I insisted that we make sure that we exchange enough for this Bible - thinking that it might be a very pricey purchase. HA!!! No negotiating needed for the Bibles! In fact, I think we all WANTED to pay MORE! Price for a nice Amharic Bible.....80 birr. About the equivalent of $5.00. We bought 2 - one for us to keep, and one for Markos to have when he's older (more on this in the next blog post). Had we thought about it, we would have purchased a lot more and given them to Workineh for his church. Us and the 3 couples shopping with us all bought Bibles. I think someone bought some Ethiopian Christian music as well.
We returned to the guest house after shopping, and after a lot of confusion and things just not working out, I ended up canceling our visit to AHOPE for lack of time. I'm still a little disappointed that we didn't get to go, but it's just so busy when you're there and Holt really leaves very little free time during your scheduled days there. Unfortunately, in this case, part of the problem is also that AHOPE requires an appointment to take you on a tour, and Holt doesn't give you the schedule for you to even see when the tiny bits of free time are until you're there. Oh well. There's always next time.... ;-)
Around 2:30, we went to the care center to visit with Markos some more. He ran to see us when we arrived and the three of us went into that same room for the time we were there. No Miruk this time, so we were pretty much totally on our own the entire time we were there. Again, the head nanny/nurse was not there for us to talk to. We were told that she'd meet with us on Monday before we took custody.
As always, Markos loved playing with our camera and video camera. He loved seeing himself on the video camera and would laugh at himself and us; he would sit very attentively looking at the pictures. And, of course, as dads do, Eric had to run around, chasing him, and tickling him, and picking him up and swinging him around. Markos loved it, and would just laugh and laugh. He has the best giggle in the world!!
Sometimes, when Eric would start to crawl after him to "get him", Markos would run to me and cling to my legs and hide behind me or want me to pick him up. It was so sweet. He would playfully scream, "ahhhhh, Emama, Emama!" while laughing and smiling as he clawed at me. Of course, I would pick him up and protect him from the big, bad Ababa. ;-) The nice thing was, when I would chase him or pretend like I was going to get him, he would do the same to Eric - run to him for protection. We felt that it was a good sign as to the bonding and attachment that was to come.
We had a fun time playing, but it also became a little awkward because all the other children were out in the courtyard playing while we were there. They had all just gotten up from their nap time. It was warm so the window to the room we were in was opened. As was the door....until the other kids came out. Then, Markos got very defensive of us and kept running to slam the door shut in any kids' face who dared to try to enter the room with us. He would actually push them and claw at them to get them out. I was really afraid that someone's fingers were going to get smashed, and I think the nannies got tired of intervening, so we eventually just left it closed. I was a little sad because I really wanted to hug and kiss on the other kids - especially those whose adoptive parents I have met and who I knew were waiting to come get them and desperately wanting news of how they're doing, news of them getting hugs and kisses, news of them...well, pretty much ANY news. But, I also understood Markos' need to claim us as his own. Also, we had taken toys for him - more machinas (cars), the magna doodle, etc. - and when the kids see new toys, they kind of go crazy wanting them. (By the time we left, after a few kids stampeded into the room a few times, all toys were gone, except one small machina.)
The kids didn't get mad or upset with Markos at all, they just begged and pleaded and yelled to him. (BTW, if anyone is going to care center 3, seriously, all the kids seemed to LOVE little cars. Take cars. And punching balloons. They loved those, too.) Eventually Markos started sacrificing the toys in order to try to appease the kids and keep them away from us. Not the machinas, he wasn't giving those up without a fight, but he did end up throwing all the punching balloons that we had blown up and were playing with out into the courtyard for his friends to play with. He was also sweet and stood at the window for a while and blew bubbles out the window for his friends who were gathered outside. (Of course, they were all still begging for the machinas!)
There was something very disturbing about trying to play with Markos and enjoy the time, while there was constantly a group of kids climbing up to the open window, yelling and begging for Markos' cars, reaching their arms in, desperately wanting what he had. Very sad. Very heart-breaking.
When the Holt driver showed up to pick us up, the kids had gone back inside. The nannies were not around, and we had yet to really meet anyone there who actually spoke English anyway. Markos ran to the door, grabbed his shoes to put them on, and was saying, "Markos, mini-bus; Markos, mini-bus" over and over again. Eric and I gave each other a panicked look, realizing that Markos thought he was coming with us that day. We kept trying to tell him that we weren't taking him yet, but he continued, "Markos, mini-bus. Markos, ewedahalu (I love you)". In a total panic and almost tears, I grabbed the driver who speaks some English and knows Markos and I told him that he had to explain to Markos that we'd be back and that we couldn't take him that day. So, he picked Markos up and he talked to him and again explained that we had to go, but that we would be back after 2 sleeps to get him and take him in the mini-bus. As this was going on, the nannies were leading all the other kids into the room where we had been so they could all sit and watch a movie. Thankfully, Markos was ok after his talk with the driver and quickly joined the other kids who had gone into the room. We saw him run over to his friends and sit with some of them against the windows, they watched us out the window and Markos smiled and waved and blew us kisses. (shew!!! Talk about calming a mother's heart!)
Those are the sort of things that are exhausting while you're there. The extremely emotional moments. They seem to come one after the other with no reprieve. Then, when you have some tiny bit of downtime, you're so exhausted that you can't even begin to process anything, or think, or journal.
After getting back to the guest house, we basically had about an hour or so before the driver was coming back for us to take us to our big group Cultural dinner. It's always fun to go to the Ethiopian restaurants and see the singers and dancers while you eat, but I will admit that between the exhaustion, the emotions, and the fear and anticipation about what the next day held, I did not enjoy the evening as much as I would have liked to have.
The food was ok (we had better at the other place we went last time we were there though). The dancing and singing were great. Very entertaining....although the part where the dancers come out into the audience and drag people up on stage to attempt the dances, or to get them to dance with them in the dining room might have been more entertaining. Apparently we stood out, because Kendra and Allegra were both taken up on the stage at different times. Stephanie, Mariah, and Dic were all chosen to dance in the dining room. I think someone else was also chosen at the other end of the table, but I couldn't see them so I'm not sure who. Also not sure which was funnier, the panicked looks on the chosen people's faces, or the "oh, wow, you are terrible" looks on the faces of the dancers as the chosen few attempted to copy the dancer's moves. :-) Actually, they all did great and were very good sports about it. I have most of them on video, but due to my being incredibly unphotogenic and fearful of terrible retribution, I will not post them. (And, once again, I was very thankful that I recognized the music preceeding the whole - go out into the audience and embarrass people - part of the night and was quickly able to make myself look invisible.) ;-)
Next post - trip to Durame, birth parent visits, and other chaos