Awhile back, when we were reading a book from the library called When Africa was Home, my oldest son, Alex, asked me, “Why don’t we write a book?” Today he has school off, and I’ve invited him to be a guest writer on the blog. He would prefer this time that I ask questions and he answer. Someday soon, he’ll write the whole post!
This is a story about coming home to America.
K: What do you remember about going to the airport in Addis Ababa to fly to America?
A: We went in the taxi, then we drove all the way to the airport, then we waited for the plane to come.
K: Do you remember the food we had in the airport, or having to rest on the floor while we waited?
A: Yes. We had some peanuts. I was really bored and scared. I was scared of you guys.
K: Then what happened?
A: Then the plane came, and the lady let us in. And we got to be in the plane, we had to wait in a long line.
K: Was the plane what you expected?
A: I didn’t really know we were going in the plane. I didn’t understand the taxi driver…I thought he was talking to you guys. (we had had the taxi driver translate expectations to the kids about what was going to happen…guess that was useless!). The plane was a lot bigger than I thought. I liked having my own seat, and being able to watch movies.
K: What else do you remember?
A: We went in three planes, two small and one big. I remember sleeping in the plane and the lady woke us up when we were at the airport. Then friends came and picked us up and we had snacks.
K: What would you tell a kid who was getting ready to come to America and was feeling scared?
Don’t be scared! It’s fun, and you will learn lots of new things. You will learn to like your parents. It takes a really long time, and you can watch movies in the plane, and you might have to do three planes or four planes. It’s really a long drive, a taxi comes and picks you up. Don’t be scared. It’s fun to move to America. In the plane the food is not that good. And you have to have peanuts and sparkling water, the sour kind. And your ears hurt from the plane going. the server comes and picks your plate up after you are done eating, and there are a LOT of people on the plane and you have to sit with somebody.
K: What was your favorite thing when you first came home?
A: We ate homemade tortillas in the middle of the night when we woke up. The next day we met some friends. Grandpa and Nana came over with their friends. You guys showed us around. Grandpa took us up to Schweitzer and showed us the snow. Then Grandpa and Nana left. Then you guys took us up to Schweitzer and you teach us how to ski. Then Grammy and Poppy came to keep Ellie with them so we could ski. Learning to ski was one of my favorite things. I like summer because you can go swimming and make sand castles and you can go on the boat and go tubing fast. You can jump off the boat into the water. And there are sailboats and speedboats and regular kind of boats. And we have chickens and we have a dog named Noah and we had five chickens and one of them got sick and died. Now we have four chickens. Two spotted ones and two light colored ones. We used to have one black one but she died. And Noah is our dog and he’s really nice, he does not bite and he’s friendly.
K: When you first met him (our dog, Noah) were you scared of him?
A: Yes. I just kept petting him and knowing he is not scary.
K: Do you remember being frustrated when you first came home when no one could understand you?
A: Yes. I felt angry. I wanted to go back to Ethiopia. Learning things made me feel better…riding a bike, going to school, learning to ski, going to the beach.
K: So, just getting used to your new life?
Now here’s a story from Alex from when he lived in Sidama, Ethiopia:
First we went in the garden and went to pick some coffee cherries. Then we let them dry, then we stepped on them with our bare feet. They get dry pretty fast. Then you put them in something you hold like a basket, and they toss and catch them to get the sun heat. if we need more we go get more. Then you cook them. you can eat them or you can make coffee out of them. We usually make coffee out of them. It’s really fun to make coffee, I like coffee. No one really knows about teas. No one drank tea in Sidama. A boy his dad was leaving a big coin on his table and a really small boy picked it up and ate it. And then he couldn’t breathe so he suffocate and he died. His dad tried to help him. We went to church. When you come from the market, our house is really close to the market. When it gets rainy people just come in our house and it’s really loud. And sometimes we don’t let the people in becuase their shoes are really dirty and they just still come in. When you go to market, the big market, when you go far away from your house to market a trolly comes to pick you up. For little kids you don’t have to pay money for it. Trolly looked like a flat trailer and there were horses that pulled it. There wasn’t anything to hold on. It was really fun to go fast! Sometimes we go to that big market when our wassa is not ready (in our garden) and we get wassa. I don’t really remember what else. And we used to have chickens. And we used to have two pigs. They were not that fat. We didn’t eat them. They were like the size of Noah (our dog).
K: What were your chores in Sidama?
A: We had to clean the pig’s pen and the chicken house. We had to fill their water up and make sure they had enough food to eat.
K: Who cleaned the pigs pen with you?
A: My brothers. I had eight brothers and sisters. All together if you count moms and grandma it was twelve of us in my family. of the kids, the oldest was like an adult, he could drive. Maybe he was 17, he lived with us sometimes, but not always. Then a girl she was 16. Then the second youngest girl was seven years old and she was older than me, her name was Genet. There were two more boys, one was sick and younger than me. He had rash all over his head I think his name was Zachariah. He was older than Melkam. The other boy was older than me. Then me, then Melkam was 3. And we had a two-year-old boy. Then we had grandma and mom. Mom had six sisters, six aunts. One had two babies. The others didn’t have any babies, but one was pregnant.
One day when my oldest brother was sleeping in the house and I came from a friend’s house to wake him up, with my friend. We saw a snake going through the crack under the door. We called a friend from next door and he got a hammer and smacked it and killed it. It was a poisonous snake, it was black and orange. My brother didn’t wake up, he was still sleeping when the snake died. Then my mom woke him up!