We arrived in Addis on Saturday night due to flight schedules but we didn't get to see the boys until Monday. We spent our time on Sunday picking up a few supplies for the apartment and some souvenir shopping. We wanted to finish our main shopping without the boys so we didn't have to drag them around to stores.... since teenage boys are known for their love of shopping... or not. Sunday night we picked up our older son, R, at the airport.
I know a few of you are traveling soon. I have just one tip.
Bring paper products. I am a big fan of paper products; toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex. Toilet paper - The airport has NONE... well okay you may get lucky and get a few little squares but don't even think about trying to dry your hands because I never once in 4 times at the airport saw a paper towel. Many restaurants also have no toilet paper or towels. I know... nice to blog about... but I'm glad someone told me in advance because it's true. Bring toilet paper - you'll be glad you did. But of course, you'll be lucky to get to use the toilet paper you brought because it can be hard to find a bathroom. Restaurants have them of course. Orphanages -Museums - The Lion Zoo - if you are fine with.....well lets just say on our first trip to Addis when I needed a bathroom our driver took me to the Sheraton. This required a stop at a heavily secured gate and all the men in the car to get out to be searched.
If you are looking for a place to stay I'd love to recommend our guest house. We were the first customers of the BnB Guesthouse. It is really close to the Gladney Care Centers in the Summit area. Not so close to the orphanages but I haven't been able to figure out if any of the guesthouses are close to the orphanages. Kolfe seems to be the farthest away from everything. Kechene and Kebebetshay are near each other and on the way to Kolfe. This guesthouse was excellent if you have an older child who you can take around with you. I'm not sure how it would work if you have a baby and need a caregiver when you go out. There are two apartments. One two bedroom, with 1 bathroom, kitchen, living area and eating area. One one bedroom with living area and kitchen. We had both. We used one as our base and the other for our older son who was in Ethiopia for just 3 days (had to get back to school). First of all it is in a nice quiet neighborhood. We had a dog bark one night but that is common everywhere in Ethiopia. The other nights were perfectly silent - no barking or chanting. We had an excellent cook for breakfast. We could have had lunch too, but we decided not to. We loved not having to share bathrooms or kitchen. It was great to have the privacy... I always feel pressured if there are people around me in a guest house, like I have to chat or make sure everyone is behaving perfectly. This was as close to being home as you can get in Addis. I know it's not rainy season anymore but if you go during rainy season the owner can get you a heater. Believe me heaters are a rarity in Addis.
The best part of our trip came on Monday when we FINALLY became a family for real. FINALLY. FINALLY.
We arrived first at the Gladney office. The boys arrived shortly afterward. They took a cab by themselves from the orphanage!! It was such a relief for us to see them - that they were finally going to be with us forever... and I think a mix of relief for them that we showed up exactly like we said we would and being scared, because really what did they know about us. Three people who don't look like them or speak any of their language. We went inside and had a meeting with the Gladney social worker to see if any of us had any questions for each other. Then - we were done. Free to go with the boys.
Not the Gladney office, but Entoto Mountain. We didn't happen to remember to take ANY still pictures only video of our meeting.
Since we had R with us for only a few days and we weren't sure exactly how to really break the ice with the boys we decided we'd show them around a little. See things they either should see again before leaving Ethiopia or see for the first time.
Playing catch with their big brother
View from Apartment
Our first day. Over. It wasn't hard like I thought it would be. It was really just a blur. I think everyone was more than a little nervous.