Our Ethiopia Trip – Arriving to Family

LukeGrammieOur Monday flight from Dubai to Ethiopia was a “quick” 4 hours and we arrived there a little after 1:30 p.m. Dad rushed us off the plane and into the Visa line to beat the crowd. Surprise…visa prices had gone up $30 each since his last trip. Darn.

All morning you could tell that anxiety levels were a little elevated. It showed in some of us more than others. I gave the kids one last pep talk as we headed into baggage claim. It was probably all forgotten by the time we waited nearly an hour to collect our 3 large bags. (Are you impressed with our packing skills? I was.)

We headed out through those double doors to the greeting area. Off to the right I first spotted our guesthouse driver with our name on the paper. About the same time, the kids family came from the opposite direction. I gave the driver a quick “hey, that’s us” nod before we were surrounded with everyone. I kind of lost count but I think there were at least 8 or 10 family & friends that were there. I think I hugged our friend Pastor Fekadu first. (His wife is best friends with an aunt of the kids.)

In Ethiopia they great you by kissing each cheek (sort of like the French). Sometimes you get a repeat and it ends up being 3 or 4 so it takes awhile to get through everyone.

When I turned around I saw Grammie (that’s what we’ve always called their Ethiopian grandmother) walking slowly toward me with roses in her hand. We reached out to greet each other and kind of stalled out on the first cheek kiss and ended up just clutching each other and crying. We finally managed to finish our greeting and she could then hug and kiss the kids and Mark. They got much the same greeting as I did.

You could tell everyone was amazed at how the kids had grown.

When we finally finished all the hellos we decided that we would all go and have coffee somewhere. That gave us a chance to visit for a bit but they also realized we’d be tired and wanted to let us settle in.

Someone took some pictures of the airport greeting session but I haven’t gotten them. I did capture the one above of Grammie & Luke. She wouldn’t let him go and she walked with him all the way to the van.

We were quite the crowd at the coffee shop. Between our drive and a couple of the family members who speak good English we did okay. Grammie was pretty quiet – soaking it all in I think. After we left we got checked into the guesthouse which was without electricity (never fails). Even after we got back from dinner it was still out. So we got ready for bed by candlelight. A couple people got quick, lukewarm showers and we were out.

Our Ethiopia Trip – Exploring Dubai

DSC_0014Finally getting around to blogging about our trip….

One of the advantages to flying Emirates to Ethiopia is the chance to explore Dubai. On the way there (departing from Dallas) we had a 22-hour layover. We landed before noon and were out of the airport by about 1:00 – not bad.

(BTW, the kids did great on the flight. With over 2,000 entertainment options in the seat-back screens, my children will forever be spoiled for airline travel. The food wasn’t bad either. Luke didn’t care for it but the rest of us were pretty pleased. About 7 hours from our destination I made the kids turn everything off, handed out Tylenol PM like candy and made them try and get some sleep. Unfortunately a crying baby made that a little difficult so we just dozed off and on.)

We hopped in a taxi (I worried about finding one that would seat all 6 of us but it was no biggie). We decided to head straight to the hotel. It was about a 30 minute taxi ride but it led us right through the city so we got quite the view of the amazing Dubai architecture, including the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. (No we didn’t go up it.)

We had to wait a bit for our room but then we could all change clothes. Apparently sitting still was not a good idea because Luke conked out in about 3.2 seconds :-)

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We decided to walk to the Mall of Emirates to find some food. It allowed us to feel like we were out in the city but gave lots of food choices for the kids. Some ate Subway, some Asian food and the rest of us ate Smashburger :-) It was fascinating to sit and watch people from all over the world, listen to the various languages and accents and soak it all it. It really is a true melting pot.

We headed back to our hotel to allow everyone to have about a 45 minute nap. Then we were up and out the door for our “dinner in the desert.” The tour company SUV picked us up and we headed back out of the city into the desert, riding across the dunes to a Bedouin village (or simulation thereof). There were probably close to 300 people from various tour companies. A circle stage in the middle of the village had tables jutting out from it like spokes. Long rugs with pillows on the ground made for an authentic feel.

Before the show we had the opportunity for a SHORT camel ride. Noah opted out so we paired Luke up with a random tourist :-) Beza got a henna tattoo, we did a little shopping and then we sat down for the show. The buffet featured a wide variety of foods. It was interesting that the men and women lined up in different sections to get their food.

We were back to our hotel by 10 p.m. and got a good nights sleep before leaving at 7:30 a.m. for the airport. Looking back I think breaking up the trip there really helped with jet lag and the time transition.

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Returning to Ethiopia

Ah, the neglected blog…..sorry. Life is crazy, and chaotic and by the time I manage working full time, cooking, running to athletic events and just managing life, there has not been much time for blogging.

But there is cause for celebration! Five days from now we will be winging our way to Ethiopia – the WHOLE family!

We’ve been dreaming of doing this for years. We told Beza & Luke we would someday take them back. And the day is near at hand.

They will get a chance to visit extended family, including their grandmother. Noah and Natalie will have a chance to see where their siblings are from and experience the beautiful country that their father jets off to several times a year for work.

We’ve been saving and planning and waiting for a deal. And boy did we find one – on Emirates Airlines of all things – supposedly the best way to fly.

It includes a 22 hour layover in Dubai on the way there during which we have a “Bedouin Village” experience planned out in the desert before returning to a hotel, getting a good night sleep and continuing on to Addis.

We’ll have about 4 days in country. It’s not a long time but we will pack as much as we can into the time and then collapse when we return.

We’d appreciate your prayers. As one could imagine there are a lot of emotions and anxiety on the part of all the kids, each for their own reasons.

I’ll try to post while we’re gone, and certainly my Instagram feed will be busy as wireless can be found :-)