Tuesday (June 14th)- We woke up at 2:00am to leave the house by 3:00am and head to the Detroit airport. We made it there with plenty of time to spare and flew to the Washington DC Dulles airport. We waited in line for what seemed like FOREVER to get our boarding passes, and then had enough time to spare for lunch at Chipotle in the airport (praise the Lord for this wonderful meal before a week of not-so-great meals!) Our flight left at noon from Dulles and it was a direct flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We hardly slept on the flight there and arrived in Ethiopia in the morning on Wednesday.
Wednesday (June 15th)- We waited in a LONG line for our visas, then went through immigration, and then searched for our bags only to find one of them missing. After dealing with filing a lost luggage report (which took forever), we went through customs and found Woudneh, our agency's director in Ethiopia. He took us to the guesthouse where we would be staying- we were blown away by the extreme poverty and the crazy driving in the city. These are the kinds of things you can hear about and see pictures of, but until you can experience them firsthand, it's very hard to believe. We arrived at the guesthouse and before we had even had a chance to catch our breath, they brought Zoe to us. It was SURREAL. It all happened so fast, we didn't have much time to prepare ourselves. She is soo precious. She didn't cry or smile right away- just was very serious and wanted to take us in and really look us over. When we put her down on the floor, she took right off and started to crawl. We couldn't believe it! We got to spend a little time with her before Woudneh said we would go to the Finot Lewegon orphanage (where she stayed prior to the transitional home) in hopes that we could meet her birth grandmother. When we arrived at the orphanage, we found out that it wouldn't be possible to meet with Zoe's birth grandmother (bummer)- she had already left to go back to Korem to take care of Zoe's birthmother and Zoe's older siblings. But we did get to ask the director some questions about Zoe's story and look around the orphanage. Zoe's favorite nanny there (Mulu) showed us the picture of Zoe she carries around in her pocket “so she always has her close”. Melted my heart. After visiting the orphanage, Woudneh took us around the city a little bit and showed us some construction sites. The other couple we were with (Shane and Syndi) were very interested in the construction since that is what Shane does here in the US. We are continually blown away by what we saw in this country- makes us appreciate all our blessings so much more and definitely puts things into perspective. Then we went to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant, which was an experience for sure. We were not too keen on the food, but it was great to experience this part of their culture. Ethiopian music followed the meal, and then we left so we could see our babies a bit before heading to bed.
Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Sign for West Sands- the guesthouse and transitional home are gated and a guard is there 24 hours a day- we felt soo safe!
The guesthouse owned by West Sands where we stayed
The transitional home (where all the West Sands kids who have been matched with families stay in the interim). The transitional home is in a u-shape and the guesthouse where we stayed is directly in front of the it. We were very close to Zoe and the other kiddos!
The infants' dorms...The one on the right is where Zoe's bed is...
The common area of the guesthouse- where meals are served and where we hung out a lot...
The Finot Lewegen orphanage where Zoe was before coming to the transitional home... Woudneh (our agency's in-country director is on the right)
Mulu (Zoe's favorite nanny) at the Finot Lewegen orphanage. She carries a picture of Zoe around in her pocket so "she always has her close"
Zoe's bed at the Finot orphanage
The traditional Ethiopian restaurant we ate at...
Our meal- Ethiopians traditionally all eat off a common plate. So this was what we all shared.
Woudneh ordered raw meat for himself (it's in the black bowl).
The music at the traditional Ethiopian restaurant...