We got up and headed downstairs to meet Solomon. As we were getting ready to leave, the hotel guy wanted me to come talk to the front desk. I went up there and they wanted to move us to another room because they wanted to do some carpet cleaning and didn't want the chemical smell to bug us. We are suppose to check out by 4pm but they wanted us out by 12:00. We planned on taking a shower before we left because of the LONG trip home so we haven't even packed all of our things. I felt bad but had to kind of say no we are not moving. The hotel and all the employees were great both trips. This was the only "problem" we ran into that we felt bad with standing our ground. It was not practical to pack up, move ALL of our luggage up a floor to another room, and unpack so we can shower before we really had to check out. It was some what poor planning on the hotel to book people on that floor if they had someone scheduled to clean the carpets. At the same time, we already had scheduled items we needed to do before getting back and getting checked out so Amber would have been left to do the packing, moving and unpacking all with Seble. It just wasn't going to happen. I said we will be back by 1:00 and move out by 2pm and asked if that would work. They said that would so we continued out with Solomon to start our trip.
After rushing through and getting back to the hotel, they ended up canceling the carpet cleaning and allowed us to stay until 4pm, which was the original check-out time. I felt bad but was relieved because it was going to be a busy trip that we just didn't want to start any earlier than we absolutely had to.
So now we, Karen and I, are with Solomon while Amber stayed at the hotel with Seble. Our first stop was going to be back out to the Sefer-Genet Gabriel Church. These were just a few scenes we passed. Had to capture this sign as our family considers Chocolate another part of the major food groups.
Solomon pointed out this truck we passed. It was carrying a huge load of coal. It was Christmas Eve in Ethiopia and so we saw MANY people doing their last minute shopping. Their shopping was not for toys and items but for food. Ethiopians celebrate their Christmas more with getting together with family and friends and have feasts. No real need for gifts. Maybe us Americans could learn a few things as it sure does seem that we have our priorities totally backwards when it comes to celebrating Christmas.
Anyway, the coal this truck was hauling would be the coal that people would use to start their fires for cooking their meals. Other items we saw were lots of the goats being sold and chickens being carried home. Solomon said that people would purchase their goat, chicken, or cow and take it home and butcher it right there in their village. Some would take it to the butcher or buy from the butcher but if you couldn't afford that, you learned how to butcher on your own.
Another chocolate store we passed with a Christmas tree on the second floor. We didn't see that many Christmas trees. Probably enough to count on one hand so seeing this was kind of cool.
We are only a few blocks from the church. This is the bridge they were building on our first trip and have made some good progress. The steel is going into the bridge now.
Again, another garbage bin full of garbage on the end of the bridge project and still there were lots of people digging through the garbage. It was a hard scene but another reality of what some people have to do to survive.
We finally arrive back to the Sefer-Genet Gabriel Church. With having read her full report of what happened to her when she was left, we actually had the names of some witnesses that evening she was found. While at the church, we were able to talk to the guard on duty through Solomon. The guard said the guard we were referring to was not working but their was a lady that knew where a baby was found around six months ago. We are assuming this would have been Seble.
A friend of Amber's collects pictures of RED DOORS as she use to have a business that was called the Red Door. At the bottom of the church property, there was this little shed with a RED door. This little shed is also known to us as an out-house. It is their bathroom. All there was inside was a concrete floor with a hole in the middle for you to squat and go to the bathroom. Just glad our hotel didn't have one of these in our room. :-)
Just outside the larger main gate of the church. Right of the smaller red gate shown in an earlier picture. The white roof top is the church's roof.
As we arrived to the church, there were some ladies cleaning a carpet outside. All wearing their aprons, cleaning and had a scarf over their head covering their hair. As we were leaving, they were still there doing laundry and cleaning this huge area carpet. There was a little boy playing and watching us. Solomon asked about our situation and if they knew anything about it which they said they didn't, but one lady came up to Solomon and pulled him aside and started taking to him. Solomon then came to me and explained to me what she said.
She was renting the room and didn't want the others around to hear her otherwise she could possible get kicked out, but she, for some reason felt that she had to tell Solomon that she has Aids. She then told him about her two kids, the one boy watching us and then a little girl. They were dressed in dirty clothes but so cute and so polite. As Solomon was saying this to me, I just felt like, was she trying to say for us to take her kids too or what. Not sure what the reason was but I asked her if I could take their picture. With a smile, she said yes and went back to her house. She then came out and gave me a picture of her and her two kids. As she was showing me the picture, I took a glance at her and then the picture but noticed the joy in her face and glow in her eyes as she was showing me her family portrait that seemed to be a few years old. Then I realized that she was giving me her family photo. How could someone take something that they treasured so much and hand it over to a complete stranger. When I realized she was giving it to me, I handed it back and said for her to keep it. She was giving it to me because I asked for a picture. As I told her to keep her family picture, I clarified again if I could TAKE a picture of her family as I pointed to my camera. She then realized what I was asking and took the picture back into the house. We waited five minutes wondering if she misunderstood what I was asking but we waited until they came back out of their gate.....totally different people.
The little boy came out in his Sunday best. Clean, newer blue jean shorts and a crisp bright colored striped color long sleeve t-shirt. I was blown away. What was I witnessing right now. I just felt SO guilty with what we have and how much we take it for granted. Then the mom came out. I would not have noticed her if it wasn't for the little girl she was carrying. The mom had also changed into a nice type of blouse shirt and had taken off the scarf that was over her head covering her hair. Her hair, I'm not kidding, was gorgeous. Shiny black curly hair that I just couldn't believe that they cover it up. The little girl had a different newer dress on too.
They had gone back inside their house and totally changed and got completely dressed up in their Sunday's best clothes so they could get a family picture. They stood right there in the same pose that they did in the older family picture. I snapped away. After getting the pictures, I asked Solomon if he could have her write down her address so I could mail the pictures to her. She wrote down her name and address and handed it to me. I re-read it to clarify I could read and understand the address and then gave her a hug, said thanks, gave the kids some snacks we had packed and we then had to leave.
Within a small 10-15 minutes, I was touched by this sweet family. I then thought, Would I have just taken their last family picture together? Is this mother on HIV medication that could help prolong her life? Probably not. Are these kids going to be old enough or have other family to raise them if their mother does die early? It was sad thoughts and just killed me.
After we left, we headed to the Hilton Hotel. Here we heard they sold the nativity scene so we thought we would get another one, but at the same time, they had an Ethiopian Airlines ticket office located inside. We went there to see where our seats were located because our agenda does not show where we were sitting. Instead of doing another thing at the airport, why not try and check one more thing off our list at the same time, check us in so we didn't have to do it at the airport.
This is just a picture of a stop sign which I really don't think too many payed attention to.
After the Hilton Hotel, we headed over to Solomons house to give the donations we received and brought for his family and village. This is the Meskel Square just before his house. Here they use to hold large gatherings, while across the street, the President of Ethiopia would give speeches. Not used much anymore, said Solomon but the row of flags led up the stairs to a Christmas bazaar which would have been fun to go to but we never made it.
Just around the corner from Solomons house we see herds of goats being sold for the holiday.
In Ethiopia, you would see people carrying their goat on their shoulders around their neck, over the shoulder on their back or holding their front two legs while the goat had to walk behind them keeping up. It looked kind of sad for the goats but that was their culture. Here is a picture of a goat being led home by the owner holding his front two legs.
Then we finally arrived at Solomons village/house. We unloaded the suitcases and bags just outside the gate into his village and waited for Solomon to park his car. Once he got there, we walked into his village heading back to his house. Just as we walked in, you can smell the aroma of all the foods they were getting ready to cook. It smelled good. They had a pit cooking/making injera bread just as we walked in. A further way in you had some women with a basket catching all the kernels from the corn. It would have been neat to see how they were doing it but we were running on a tight time frame. As we walked in, there were lots of people and they looked at us wondering what all the luggage was for. They were very friendly and smiled as we walked by. From the first trip, I recognized a little girl I took a picture of holding a pop bottle. I said hi and smiled but kept going. Once we got to Solomons door, I noticed the little girl was right in tow.
It was fun to see Solomons family. They immediately asked where Amber was and how Jacob was. I told them Amber wasn't going to make it as she was with Seble at the hotel and Jacob was good. Sad he couldn't come but doing good. Once we got into his house, I started handing out the donations. I opened up the bag with all the clothes for the village which the little girls mom or aunt or sister was there and seemed to be happy to hear that. We placed them aside for them to go through after we left. I ended up asking Leul what his favor sport was and of course he said futball (soccer). I asked who is favorite player was who he responded without hesitation, #9, Tores. I said good because I heard that from another friend that that is who you liked. I then tossed him a package for him to open up. He tore into it and you can tell he was pumped and couldn't believe it. He just opened an authentic jersey (T-shirt & shorts) with logos and all of his favorite player. He put the shirt on right away. You can tell he was going to LOVE showing that off to his friends. It was so much fun to see his face and hear his voice.
We didn't have much time so we had to keep plugging away. I stumbled across the picture I took of the little girl holding the pop bottle on our first trip. I gave it to the little girl who was so excited to see a picture of her. She ran it to her mom who was standing in the door way. The rest of the time we were there, the little girl was holding that picture in her arms close to her chest. So cute to see.
Some of the medicines we were able to bring we had to explain what they were used for or how much to use and for who, adults or kids. We hope they understood it all. We also thought about bringing cooking items and brought some flour which did not realize that they had no clue what it was used for. We explained what it could be used for and thought they use it but apparently not. We learned some things too.
We then gave them the Christmas cards from family and friends and their faces when they opened up the envelopes with cards with money on the inside was priceless. With a big smile he said this will get a cow for our whole village. The neighbors that were there watching were excited too.
Bummer thing about the whole process was not being able to spend more time with them and his neighbors. It would have been nice to hang out for a bit but after taking about 30 minutes handing it all out, we noticed the time and had to get back to the hotel to start the checking out process.
The other bummer part of it was when we gave his family each a new pair of shoes. Poor little Degan's shoes were the wrong shoes. I'm not talking wrong size but wrong shoes. We purchased these shoes at Wal-mart back home and brought them over. When we purchased the shoes, we read the correct size and threw them in the basket. They were bound together with that string new shoes have to keep them together so we figured we got the right shoes. Not until we get over to Ethiopia at this very moment will we see that Wal-mart had put a size 1 shoe together with a size 13 shoe. Unbelievable! It never crossed our heads that two shoes tied together would be totally different size shoes. We told him we were so sorry and that we would mail him a pair when we got home, which we did. Leul finished with opening Jacob's letter/picture from home that we brought with us. Jacob and Leul are going to try and continue to be pen-pals which will be fun.
We finished handing out the items and then it was time to say bye. As we passed back by the other people cooking, it sure made me want to stay. Amazing what they were getting together. We said our byes and Solomon took us back to the hotel.
Once we got back to the hotel, we took our shower and finished packing up. We checked out of our room at 4pm and hauled our luggage to the lobby. It was now just waiting for our hotel van to arrive so we could load it up and head to the airport. Here is a picture in front of the hotels lobby's Christmas tree.
As we were waiting, we saw the employees all dressed in their traditional ceremony dresses and starting to set-up a traditional coffee ceremony. We thought bummer. We thought it was some Christmas Eve thing they were doing and thought we were going to miss it because the van would be there very soon when the front desk guy told us that this was for us.
They gave us a traditional coffee ceremony. Here she is still setting up as we wait.
Here she is roasting the coffee beans over a small fire.
Our crew that flies out tonight together.
After roasting the coffee beans, she pours water into the coffee pot and places it back onto the coals to heat up while she takes the already roasted coffee beans and grinds them into powder.
Next they lay down the green grass. We aren't too sure as to why the grass. If it's for decoration or something else.
Now she starts to add the ground-up coffee grounds. She'll add it to the coffee pot and let it continue to get hot.
Once it was hot, she started to pour our cups. Amber only got a 1/2 cup this time but I was hoping it would keep me up and then crash sleep on the plane.
As we were drinking our last fresh cup of Ethiopian coffee, another lady came over and held Seble. It was neat to see how Seble was reacting to them.
We got on the subject of the coffee beans and the whole set-up for an Ethiopian coffee ceremony when I realized I needed coffee beans to be able to roast. I was thinking of the beans we already got. Well those are already roasted. So the one lady went into the back and brought me a sandwich bag full of unroasted coffee beans. It was so sweet.
She did keep her eye on us to make sure we weren't going anywhere which was nice to see.
The hotel van finally arrived. We loaded our luggage and it was time to say bye and head to the airport. Here is Seble's last time of driving in a vehicle without a car seat. We were curious to know how she would like to be locked down in a car seat but for now, she was free.