The sad thing is that the pictures I love the most from our time in Ethiopia are the ones in my head. There were so many pictures that I wanted to take, but chose not to because I felt that it violated people's privacy or dignity. The ones I wish most to share with you are the ones I was just itching to take but couldn't or didn't. There are images, stories, people that are simply burned into my head that I could not record by camera, as much as I would love to be able to share them with you. I took lots of pictures and not a one of them does justice to what we really saw: the good; the bad; the ugly.
That being said, I would love to share some photos with you over the coming days...photos that give a small sampling of the place I came to be attached to. Here are the first few photos.
Here's us at the airport just as we were about to depart on our journey...if I'm looking a little sober, it's because I just said good-bye to Matthew and was fighting tears. The two bins were what we filled for the orphanages, in addition to what we bought there with money that people had given us.
On route from Toronto to London.
After a very long time in the air (including an unexpected stop in Amman), and looking a little worse for wear, we arrived in Addis. To our surprise, our luggage made it! This is taken at the baggage carousel, after passing through the visa process (which was very quick) and customs.
The Addis airport, as we first set foot on Ethiopian soil...at 4:00am.
We stayed at Afro Land Lodge, which is a new, twelve-unit guest house that few families with Imagine had stayed at before. Lucky for us, while were were there, two other Imagine families were staying there and it was great getting to know them a bit. We chose this accommodation because of the free wi-fi access (big bonus for those of us who happen to like blogging!), the hot water tank in each room, and the back-up generator that ended up being helpful on the three occasions that there were power outages in Addis while we were there. The wi-fi access didn't guarantee service, to be honest - there were lots of times we were unable to access the internet and, even when we could, it was somewhat limited, but these were service provider issues (which the lodge couldn't help) rather than connectability issues. At any rate, it was a very nice, new, clean accommodation and we were very happy with it for this trip.
The one tall building in the picture is Afro Land Lodge, a picture we took a few days after our nighttime arrival. Arriving in the dark, the rutted lane leading to the hotel felt like we were entering some back alley, but it was actually a safe place to walk.
This is our room from the vantage point just inside the doorway. Note the rabbit ears on the tv...which weren't even attached in any way! We got five channels on the tv and, from the little we watched, we wondered what on earth Ethiopians must think of us westerners: all of the tv shows we saw were crime shows and violent movies. Hmm...surely we could do better than that? We did watch a bit of BBC news, though, which was nice.
This is the view from the bed end of the room, looking towards the living room area.
I know I look awful...give me a break...just got off a 28-32 hour plane ride, wearing the same clothes and without access to a shower during that time! You can see the small galley kitchen to the left and the bathroom to the right.
The bathroom, obviously. The shower curtain didn't stretch much further than what you see here, and the shower floor was somehow soft and constantly made us feel like we were about to plunge through it, and the water pressure wasn't much to speak of...but we were very thankful for a private bathroom with a fairly modern toilet. Yay.
(below - two pictures)
The guest house made us delicious European-style breakfasts in the morning (included in the price of the accommodation), which we ordered the night before from a small selection. It seems like all of the lodges serve white bread for toast - I had a hard time eating it, after a whole wheat preference for at least a couple of decades. But for anyone staying here in the future, you must try the delicious crepe-like pancake, served with a piece of surprisingly-tasty chicken bacon (who knew?!) and some of the most lovely-flavoured potatoes. Yummm.
OK, that's it, but more soon!