After our flight departed for Addis we settled in and fell asleep. Ethiopian Airlines is a wonderful Airline to fly. They are constantly feeding you and offering beverages. The hours until Rome were just a blur of sleeping and being awoken by the beautiful Ethiopian Airline Flight Attendants to eat or drink. There was such a sweet spirit on the flight. Most of the people were Ethiopians returning home for a visit, a handful of people traveling on to the Congo, and there was a sprinkling of Americans. The Ethiopians' excitement gave the flight a certain electricity. They were all so happy, and eventhough they didn't know each other, it was like a big reunion with Amharic flowing through the airwaves.
The pilot came on and said quite a long piece in Amharic and then a brief sentence in English. This is how it always was and I told my dd that we just get the "Cliff Notes" version, but no matter, we were landing in Rome, Italy! We landed and all of the people on the plane erupted in a huge cheer for the pilot.
My dd slept through most of the Rome stop
and I decided to try and use the restroom (on International Flights I have learned that there is ALWAYS a line for the restroom). While in line I met another American lady. Our conversation was so careful.. "Have you ever been to Addis?" and then gently "What will you be doing in Addis?" Well, it turns out she was from South Dakota and adopting through CHSFS! She was picking up a 3 yo little girl named Bereket. Then as I headed back to my seat I was stopped by a "group" of American Ladies who asked if I was adopting through AAI. It was Shelly (and her friend and neighbor) and Maribeth (with her sil and neice) who were adopting Tamrat and Addis and Mekdes and Zinnesh! What fun to spend our Rome layover fellowshipping with families who were going to Layla House too!
Before we knew it we were off and on our way to Addis. On the flights they have screens which show exactly where you are and I marveled as we flew over Egypt. I was reading my Bible and glanced up and saw we were right by the Red Sea! Wow! How awesome! We flew over the Nile, over the Sudan and then suddenly our little blip was in Ethiopia!
Our flirst glimpses of Ethiopia from the sky were so beautiful.
We marveled at the Mountains and my dd pointed out one Mountain she had read about and was the tallest Mountain in Ethiopia.
We were soon on the ground and once again the plane erupted in cheers and much uvulation.
I was so happy to see the airport was layed out JUST the way the AAI's instructions said. We got our Visas, exchanged some money, and then headed to baggage claim. Baggage Claim took a LONG time. There was so much luggage and for a time it looked like ours was not going to be among them but finally there they were our black suitcases that look the same as every other travelers' luggage :o). We collected our luggage and then had it x-rayed. Then we went out to head into the main airport and I just stopped dead in my tracks. There were hundreds and hundreds of Ethiopians staring at us as we exited baggage claim. They were looking for their relatives (Gail later said for every one Ethiopian to come home 10-15 family members go to meet them at the airport) coming home for a holiday. I notcied the sun had set long ago, and it was now dark outside.
We made our way through and found the sign for the Hilton Shuttle. The man told us there was another gentleman coming and it would be a short wait. As we were standing their we were apporached by Jamal the AAI driver! What a sweet man he is! He asked if we were an AAI fmaily and then who we were adopting. I told him "Baby John", and he was so excited. "Baby John is a miracle! Baby John, he go to America and he will be famous!" I told him we had adopted Yohannes and Eyassu too and he was so excited to see their pictures. He said, " I never see Yohannes look like this! I never see Yohannes smile. He always cry, cry, cry." Then he looked at me very seriously and told me "Thank you for adopting from Ethiopia. There are rich Ethiopians but they don't adopt. It makes me very sad." Now Jamal had made me cry, cry, cry!
The Hilton man signaled it was time to go and grabbed our luggage from us. As we reached the bus a boy of about 12 came up. He was on crutches and was missing part of his leg. He wanted money but I couldn't get to my money it was on the bus and then a man came up and started yelling at him. This still makes me sad.
We boarded and were off on our first Ethiopian driving experience. Now, I have read the stories but until you have ridden it you just can't know.. The drivers tear at break neck speeds only to slam on their breaks inches from cars or pedestrians. Lane changes are quick and without warning and horns are always blaring. I had been assured over and over that while the driving was intense there weren't any accidents, but we saw one right of the bat. It didn't look as if there were injuries, thankfully. The most amazing thing, to me, was the amount of people out and walking and walking.
We arrived and headed up to our room. It was downright "Groovy" with it's decor inspired by (or was it leftover from) the 60's.
My dd headed to the shower and I headed to call Gail and let her know we had made it. I called the cell # AAI had given us twice and both times got a rather aggravated Englishman who had never heard of Gail. Oh dear, I called her home number and got through on the 4th try. Her dh Yonas answered and said she was in the shower and would call me back.
I started unpacking and the phone rang and it was my dh! Yippee! He was happy to hear we had made it. We chatted briefly and as we hung up I realized it was late and I probably wouldn't hear form Gail until tomorrow.
That night we went to bed comtemplating whether or not Gail would be off for the May day Holiday the next day and whether we would be seeing our babe the next morning or in 2 days..We were also praising the Lord for bringing us so far.