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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day one in Addis

When we woke up Sunday morning, we felt refreshed!  We were ready to meet with our guide and find out what the week had stored for us.  We had high hopes of being able to visit the orphanage.  But we waited and waited and still heard nothing from him.  The power at the Sadula went out for a while so we had no way to call him either.  Around 11am, we were able to use the man at the front desk's cell phone to contact our guide.  After we met with him, and found out we would not be able to go to the orphanage, we had enough time to go grab some lunch before our guide would pick us up for some shopping.  We walked around and found the Lime Tree restaurant.  Our food was good.  Well, mine was good, Andrew's pizza was just alright.  I got lentil soup and pasta with marinara, and he had pizza.

With very full stomachs we walked back to meet our guide and head off to shop for some souvenirs.  He drove us about 20 minutes through Addis.  It was cool to be able to see more of the city.  There is soooo much going on!!  There isn't a lot of regulations on driving so the roads are chaotic.  There was everything from palaces and men in suits, to shacks, homeless people, and herds of goats.  There is a lot of color everywhere!  All the little buildings lined up along the street are painted in different bright colors.  It's really beautiful.

When we got to the "shopping center" Alemu let us know he would be back in 2 or 3 hours...what?!?!  He was dropping us off!!  Just leaving us there!  My stomach turned a little.  I told him I thought 2 hours would be enough and he told us to meet him back in the same spot.  There were 2 roads that met in a corner to shop on.  There were about 15 or so tiny make shift shops on each road.  Each of the stores carried most of the same items, or similar things.  I found out I am NOT good at bargaining.  In fact, I am awful.  Andrew was a little better.  We got some great items...but the experience was bitter sweet.  There were so many children on the streets begging for food and saying, "hungry, hungry."  There was this one man in particular who was carrying a toddler on his back, while he was on crutches and only had one good foot.  It was just awful the way they looked at us...their eyes were just begging for something, anything.  The longer we were there, the more the crowd of beggars grew.  They could not come inside the stores, but they would wait outside the door for us to come back out.  They were relentless, no matter how many times we said no thank you to their sunglasses, belts, tooth brushes, and maps.  We were so afraid to give any handouts because there were so many people wanting.  We were afraid once we gave someone something, it would get worse.  It sounds horrible to say...but it was really a little scary.  I was so uncomfortable and my heart was breaking for them...I wanted to give...but it didn't feel safe to do so.  I just wanted our guide to come back.  We finished shopping in about an hour.  But we couldn't wait on the street for him to come back so we just kept on pretending to look in the same shops we had already been to.  Finally, we met 2 guys who became a huge blessing!!!!  They took us under their wings and totally looked out for us.  They invited us to sit in the entryway of their shop.  They brought us chairs and offered us coffee and tea.  They very gently encouraged the beggars to stay back and move on.  Some little girls came around and just stood near us, playing, but watching us.  They were to intrigued.  And the guys who were helping us were SOOOO friendly and kind.  I felt so much better.  I wanted to be able to thank them in some way, but wasn't sure how.  Now I wish I would have given them something.  But we just talked with them, taking turns asking questions about each other.  They spoke enough English that we could communicate ok.  I am so glad we met them!!  It was so nice to just be able to interact with the locals a little, without feel intimidated.

One major thing I have noticed in the day we have been here is how much the people here in Ethiopia love.  You see men walking hand in hand or arm in arm.  They greet each other with hugs and often stand with one hand on the other's shoulder while speaking.  It's so endearing to see.  They have huge smiles and are just kind.  God is can feel it.

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