Even though we are now home safe and sound, I am backing up the story for you. We did not have reliable internet service while in Ethiopia, so we were not able to blog along the way. I hope you enjoy Joseph's story...
June 13-15, 2011
Our adventure has begun! After Margaret's obligatory last-minute frenetic dash to pack and get everything settled for the kids while we're gone, she and Beth boarded the charter bus with her class to attend the 2nd grade Zoo field trip in Portland. We had a great time riding the bus, eating our sack lunches, seeing all the animals and just spending some time together! At five-o-clock, she and I hugged goodbye, shed a few tears, and then she boarded the bus to go home, while I took the MAX tram to Clackamas Town Center. Mitch drove the car up and met me there and we grabbed a quick dinner at a Thai BBQ. Yum! Then we headed to my Great-Aunt Nancy's place where she graciously said we could park our car while gone. And she even took us to the airport!!! Thanks, Aunt Nancy!
Check-in went reasonably smoothly (I say “reasonably” because I really think those self-serve kiosks take much longer to figure out than if a real-live person just took your documents and handed you the information you needed. Anyway...) We had some time before boarding to just sit and catch our breath. Portland to Chicago went just fine. Short layover. On to Dulles where we had a 3-hour layover. We found our gate and saw that the line to get boarding passes was already long so we figured we'd better jump in. Took an hour waiting in line, had one hour to get some breakfast and then boarding started an hour before take-off. So three hours wasn't much after all.
Our flight to Addis Ababa was looooong! About 13.5 hours long! We had pretty good seats and the service was satisfactory, but it was very crowded with no room to stretch. But we survived, landing in Addis Ababa safely in the midst of great sunny weather! Our first stop was to get Mitch's entrance visa. While waiting in line, we started chatting with a couple who, it turns out, was in the adoption process too. This was their first trip and they had unfortunately left all their cash in their checked luggage and had no way to pay for their entrance visas. I told them if they couldn't use a credit card, we would loan them the money and they could just pay us back when they found their luggage. Sure enough credit cards could not be used so we gave them the money and you could see the relief in their eyes. It all worked out just fine and we left them with some words of blessing to help ease their minds.
|Theddros, our scout, looking over the Awash Falls|
After getting our luggage, we walked out to the lobby and immediately saw our tour guide, Tsegaw, holding up a sign with our names on it. He had been waiting there for us for over two hours but was very gracious. He led us out to his waiting van, loaded our luggage, and we were off! Off to the Awash National Park and to see some of the countryside along the way. Tsegaw had brought some bread and fruit and some of his wife's homemade meatballs so that we could just picnic in the van and not have to stop for lunch. It took us about 4 hours to drive to the park where he paid the entrance fee and then an armed scout joined us in our van to help locate animals and provide protection in case some big animal got too close, I guess.
|Our first glimpse of an oryx|
|The flat-topped trees are acacia trees, foreground has anthills|
|At the Awash Gorge Lodge|
|A warthog family|
We saw a landscape that reminded us a lot of the High Desert of Eastern Oregon, just a lot of acacia trees added. And we saw at least eight species of animals: oryx, Soemmerings gazelle, buzzards, Salts dikdik, guinea fowl, warthog,
lesser kudu, and even a crocodile near the river when we arrived at the Awash River Gorge (looked a lot like the Snake River Gorge). There was a lodge there, where we ordered a light dinner/lunch? of beef shish kabobs and sat on the patio overlooking the gorge. It was very peaceful and praise-inspiring to the Creator. And the food was very good, too! Some of the best-tasting chile sauce I have ever had.
|Awash River Falls aka Chocolate Falls|
After leaving the gorge, we drove through the park some more to get to the Awash River Falls. So powerful and fascinating. The river was swollen and muddy from recent rains so the water looked like chocolate splashing over the edge (sure didn't smell like it though!)
|We saw lots of camels!|
We got back in the van and headed back out, said goodbye to Theddros, our scout, at the gate and then back toward Nazreth, our stop for the night, feeling tired but happy that our trip has gone so smoothly thus far and that we are now two days closer to seeing our little boy and playing with him! God has surely been going before and behind us and we hope this journey will be one more testimony to the incredible plan He has for a little boy named Joseph.
|The town of Nazreth|