Recording the previous day's events over breakfast





















This morning was the great Ethiopian run! Maybe you saw some coverage of it somewhere; there were 35,000 people here to run a combination of marathon, half, 10k, and shorter runs. We didn’t try to go down where it was being held because it sounded like a madhouse. Apparently most people had to walk much of the race because it was solid bodies. I can’t imagine running in the pollution here!

Check out this logo for a successful coffee shop chain in Addis. Isn’t it unique and unusual?

Kaldi's coffee in Addis Ababa Ethiopia

We had lunch there today; two tuna sandwiches with fries and Aldo (sparkling water), and Ethiopian tea (they boil water with cinnamon and spices and bring it to you with a black tea bag on the side. Lovely!). Finished off with another strawberry juice. It was $6.00 total. Everything has jalopenos in it, including the tuna salad, eggs in the morning, our raw salad the other day. I’m fine with it because I have this theory that the oils in hot peppers help tame the bacteria we are certainly ingesting, but the prolific use of jalopenos is remarkable.

We had attended the International Evangelical Church:

The pastor is from North Carolina and the the worship and message are in English. We met a family from Montana sitting behind us; the husband is a missionary and the wife is a nurse who does medical missions work in one of the slum areas in Addis. I can only imagine what that must be like. They’ve been here for two years and when I asked her how long they would stay, she rather stoically said “indefinitely.” They have three pre-teen kids. The congregation was about 80% Ethiopian, the rest a mix of Koreans, Americans, Europeans and others. It was a great service and we were grateful for the chance to worship. The pastor, who has lived here for two years, was preaching on Philippians 2:5-11, about having a servant heart, and he pointed out his own observations about how Ethiopian families really take care of each other, putting siblings’ and parents’ needs before their own. The culture of humility and servanthood in this country had made an impression on him.

On our way to the internet café in the Adams Center mall this morning, we saw this man working on a window repair on the 5th or 6th floor of the atrium!

Window repair, look ma, no harness!

I know it’s a very American attitude, but I always find it shocking how few  safety precautions are taken in developing countries. It may be overly cautious, but I LIKE American regulation and structure when I see something like this.

We had some good internet time, and then, since Charles needed a haircut, we went hunting for the salon for which there is a big sign outside the Adams Center. It was in the basement, and it was huge! In addition to the busy salon, where lots of Ethiopian women and a few expats were getting aggressive blowouts and straightening treatments, there was a barber shop, and a big modern health club. We couldn’t believe it! Charles got a haircut for about $2.50 that he claims is the best haircut he’s ever had, and I decided to go for a pedicure. It was the most thorough exfoliation I’ve ever experienced, literally took about two hours, and I emerged with pink, tender toes and feet for a total of $10.00 with tip. I know, some of you are questioning the wisdom of a pedicure in a country where HIV and other communicable diseases are so prevalent, but I promise there was no cutting involved, and very little use of metal tools. Also, it’s clearly a salon that’s frequented by the well-to-do, and they had modern sterilization methods going on. Plus it was fascinating to watch the process of styling African hair up close. Pretty involved!

I’d like to make a comment on the inconsistency of Ethiopia in general, and the Kings Hotel specifically. Here is the rather small, but elegant lobby:

The lobby of the Kings Hotel, Addis Ababa

It is filled with opulent chandeliers, and nearly every inch is tiled with beautiful natural stone of varying kinds and is polished daily. There are large stone vases that look like they are made of  alabaster, and marble stairs. And the furniture includes oversized, elaborate carvings in the wood. But a visit to the common restroom on the first floor reveals neither toilet paper nor soap (ever). And one walks up the stairs to one’s room and the walls and carpet are pretty sick, the bathroom smells all the time as if none of the plumbing has p-traps so the sewer smells are leaking out into the room (a detail Charles wanted me to include for those of you who know plumbing). Fortunately we haven’t seen any cockroaches or other unpleasant visitors, but this could be because the staff periodically wanders around spraying something that must be pesticide. The staff, by the way, is great. There are many of them, and they are warm and friendly and some even speak a little English, and they have beautiful smiles and faces. Today we had quite a bit of laundry done since we packed light. All of it was back in the room, pressed within a few hours for about $8.00.

Here’s a funny Ethiopian quirk: When someone responds to you in the affirmative, they inhale sharply as if surprised or frightened.

We went back to see our boys this evening after our ‘spa treatments.’ I’m pleased to report they are still happy to see us! Charles played basketball for a while with some of the older boys, and we sought out two children who’s mom’s had requested photos. The children love to get their pictures taken and then want to look at the review screen on the back of the camera to see themselves.

Shoes on a ledge at Layla house orphanage

They are all getting pretty comfortable with us, and the camera got well handled today by lots of kids, fingerprints on the lens, every button pushed. Alex took this photo:

It appears that the swing is our way of bonding with Melkam right now. He is in motion constantly, running to and fro, but he likes to get on the swing and his attention span for swinging is nice and long. Plenty of opportunity for contact as we push him on the swing and tickle his back. The giggle is unbelievable…worth working for!

We stopped into the the tiny ‘restaurant’ across the street from Layla house afterward for some Shiro, a spicy stew made from garbanzo beans and poured over injera. Meals with injera are eaten with one’s hands, so we had a good bath in hand sanitizer first, and still didn’t feel totally comfortable. They served us two glasses of water, which we quickly determined were tap water, and ordered a couple of cokes. When she brought the bottles of coke, she poured out the tap water and placed the glasses back on the table. Uh, no thanks, we’ll just drink out of the bottle. Coke is another one of my comforting theories…I normally never drink soda, but I think the acid in Coke must form some sort of protective barrier to all that other stuff. It could be true, right?

We walked home a different route tonight to look for the Ritmo guest house, where we might stay the next time we come for our Embassy date. We didn’t find it, but it was interesting to walk through the neighborhood. Dirt roads, or paved sections with dirt and large stones along the edges. More corrugated metal walls and gates, and plenty of people out walking. Although we get a lot of looks being the only white people, it feels quite safe and most people will return our smiles and nods. Some of the children love to wave and smile at us, and others just stare. The moon was rising as we neared the hotel, so I took a couple of shots in the low light:

Charles noted this interesting spiral staircase on a large building:

There’s no gaurdrail along the open stairs, just those vertical bars all the way up five stories. Inside the first floor is a small grocery store where we’ve bought water and snacks, and a Western Union.

Tomorrow morning we visit Bethazata orphanage where our boys lived for eight months before they came to Layla. We hope to learn a lot!

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