4:30am came way too early the next morning. We had to meet Helen and Sami at 5am in front of the hotel for the long drive home. We packed up our things and said goodbye to all the ants in our room.
We drove for a couple hours before stopping in a little town for breakfast. We drove through a tiny little drive behind the building to the parking lot and followed Sami into the restaurant. We were seated in this secluded room that was separated from the main area. It was dark with no lights other than the sun through a small window. It was also a dirt floor. I had to use the bathroom, but after Andrew went, he hinted I should wait if I could...so I did. Breakfast was good and our coffee was very strong. Just what I needed.
We continued driving. Again, we saw some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever laid eyes on. The villages and towns intrigue me so much. I wanted to badly to stop and visit with the people and see how they live. But I know that it's not always safe to put ourselves in those types of situations. So I took advantage of the times when we would stop and people or children would come to our window to look at us. One man in particular spoke to us in Amharic for over 5 minutes! I am not sure he even knew we didn't understand him. We were able to understand "American" and "Jesus Christ." It seemed as if he was asking us if we knew Jesus. It was amazing. Jesus IS everywhere. Even though we were lost by most of his words, we smiled and just enjoyed the interaction. The people are not only beautiful, but so loving and friendly.
Later in the day we stopped for lunch. Sami had asked us what we wanted to eat, and we told him to pick. They asked us if we liked fish, and we said yes. Oh boy....we pulled up on the side of the road in front of the hotel where the restaurant is. It was a cute little outdoor restaurant and it was packed with people! There was even a local celebrity from an Ethiopian sitcom there! It must be a pretty well known place to eat.
Now, I appologize if this is too much information, but I still had not used the restroom and it had been hours! So I asked Helen to show me where it was. I wish I had just gone on the side of the road somewhere. I walked into this little tiny 3X3 shed. There was a hole in the ground covered by the lid of a 5 gallon bucket, which also had a hole drilled in it. I knew I was going to have to squat over top of this thing but the smell in the bathroom was so putrid I could barely breathe. As I squatted down I was picturing my feet sliding out from underneath me and landing on my butt on the ground. I wasn't certain if the ground was muddy, or covered in feces. It was not pleasant at all. But I survived. It was yet another reminder of how different things are there. It made me appreciate the simple amenities we have at home, like toilets. We take so much for granted. And I definitely can't imagine any American celebrity using a restroom like this.
Back to the lunch. Andrew let Sami order for him so they got a traditional meal on Injera and fish, I got soup, and Helen didn't eat. The boys shared their injera and wat while I ate my soup. Next, the fish came out. It was...an actual fish. I mean an entire fish! It had a head, fins, a tail. The WHOLE thing. It looked like it was just dunked in a deep fryer. I tried to hold any negative expression that might surface on my face., but apparently I didn't do a good job. Helen and Sami were both laughing at me. I did manage to talk myself into trying one bite. It tasted like fish, and dirt. Not my cup of tea. But the boys ate it and we left.
All of us, with the exception of Sami, slept on and off the rest of the drive home. I didn't want to miss the last bits and pieces of our trip, but I was so tired I could barely sit up.
We found out that Alemu, our Ethiopian rep, thought we were leaving that night, so we were heading straight to the orphanage to say goodbye to Amin. (Leo) I was a little disappointed. I was hoping to spend the day on Saturday with him since we weren't flying out until 2am Sunday morning. And I have to admit, I was exhausted. I wanted to be fully awake the last time we would see our son. I wanted to be able to fully enjoy every second with him. But, I knew I had to make the best of it.
We snuggled our son as long as we could. We gave him kisses and just stared at him for over an hour. It was late in the afternoon and I could tell it was getting to be time to go. That knot I have gotten to know so well started to rise in my throat. As I handed Leo over to one of the caregivers, I couldn't stop the tears from flowing. I wanted to hold them back. I didn't want to be sad. I didn't want to cry in front of his caregivers. But I had no control over the tears that stung my eyes. As soon as I let him go, my heart was already aching to hold him again. It was a funny feeling though. I was sad for myself, not for Leo. I knew he was in good hands. I knew he was happy there and that there was a lot of love going around in that building. But I could not help but be sad for all that I would miss when we left. Leo is little. He is so soft and squishy. His head barely has any hair and it's so smooth. I knew he was going to grow and change while we were gone. I was mourning the loss of time, really.
So we climbed back into the van and headed for our hotel. I had plenty of time to collect myself. It wasn't simple. I was going to miss my son. The feeling of missing a child you have only spent 5 1/2 hours with is strange. But he was instantly MY child from the second I held him in my arms. I felt all the urges to protect him, care for him, and love him that I did when I gave birth to Maya. I didn't want to miss out on any more time with him.
When we got back to the hotel, we said goodbye to Helen and Sami and thanked them for everything. It had been an amazing trip. I am so glad we decided to travel out of Addis. I am so blessed we were able to see where Leo is from. The beauty of Ethiopia is overwhelming, just like the devastation. When I think it about it today, I am still in awe.