Monday, November 26, 2012

Shopping in Addis

I wish everyone could experience shopping in Addis. It's quite the experience.  Just down the street from the guest house, and really all over the city, are little shops filled to capacity with items from the States; still not able to determine the decade on some of those items.  

Imagine the smallest apartment you've ever lived in. For many of us that's going to be in college, or the first apartment you had out of college. Now imagine something smaller. In fact, think about that dorm room you may have lived in. For me, it was the 4th floor of Jester West. Room enough for two twin beds, two dressers, two desks and a little bit of floor space. Do you have a picture in your head? I would say that's a pretty decent comparison to many of the storefronts here in Addis. And that's being generous. Clothes are stuffed on shelves and hanging from every possible area. There's barely space to turn around, yet it appears to be very organized.  That's where Shanna and I found ourselves after a fruitless visit to the airport on the quest to locate our luggage.  Armed with enough birr to get clothes and toiletries to get us through tomorrow, we stopped at a women's clothing store. It was the first one we saw that didn't specialize in hootchie clothing. As I told the other family at the guest house, I didn't wear clothes like that back in college when I could get away with it. Pretty sure I'm not going to start in my forties to visit orphans. Highly inappropriate.  Fortunately, there was a shop with jeans and t-shirts nearby.  Unfortunately, sizing is different here and there was no way to avoid trying the clothes on. The dressing room is about half the size of a bathtub. That my friends, was fun.  I think what I enjoyed most was the fact that the sales guy tried to sell Shanna and me the same shirt, (Twinkies, anyone?) which by the way came from Ross. Yes, that Ross.  That's not even the best part. The tag was still on it and it was priced at $17.99.  What you need to know is that he tried to sell it for 400 birr, which translates to roughly $25. Does anyone else see a problem with that math?

We were excited to find Dove products so we can get really and truly clean. Our body wash even came with a loofah. Woo Hoo!!! 

I'll try and get some picture of the stores tomorrow so you can get a true idea. Hopefully I won't have to return for more clothes, just pictures.  I will leave you with this incredibly honest, somewhat embarrassing thought. But, I think it will make you giggle and hopefully also make us all a bit more appreciative for what we do have.  There is nothing more awkward than having to buy undergarments from a man on the streets of Addis.

Back in Ethiopia

It's my second trip to Ethiopia and it's still an experience that is hard to describe.  And our trip has been anything but easy. This time we took a different route and a different airline. I must say I did like the new route better than the first one. The first time we flew straight from Houston to Dubai. Yowza! That's a long flight. This time we flew Houston to Amsterdam to Ethiopia, with refueling in the Sudan. We were about 90 minutes late leaving Houston which obviously drastically cut down our layover time. In fact we deboarded and got in the security line for our second flight as they were starting to board. It was at that point that our luggage didn't make it on the plane with us. Now, I know what you're thinking. The airline just didn't have time to get the bags on the new plane. And yes, I would normally agree with you. But, we did get one of our four bags. Another adopting family from Houston got two of their many bags and boxes. And everyone else on that Houston to Addis flight got their luggage. Still trying to figure out what the airline's excuse is.

After we were told the bags would be put on the next possible plane (Amsterdam to Addis via Nairobi), we decided to muster through Monday the best we could.  By 4:00, we still hadn't heard from anyone, so we went to the airport. No luggage! And no clue where it is. We finally found someone who could help us (somewhat). We think the bags left Amsterdam and made it to Nairobi, but there they stayed. Now we're waiting for an early morning call that says our bags have arrived.

The airline did give us cash and we have enough provisions for tomorrow. We're thinking positive, people.  Hopefully we won't need to shop for more clothes.  More about our provisions later...that's a whole blog entry unto itself.

Anyway, when I first started thinking about today's blog entry, I was thinking about the things I am thankful for. After all, we did just celebrate Thanksgiving so the timing is right.
My original list of thanks -

  • Packing an extra set of clothes and deodorant in my carry-on.
  • Other adoptive families willing to share their shampoo and conditioner.
  • Hot water
  • My sister-in-law who happens to think I look presentable in public with just a ponytail and no make-up

While these things are a part of my world and it is frustrating as all get out that I don't have my things to make my life easier, driving around Addis today and spending time with the kids at the transitional home does put things in perspective. Am I ticked? Yes! Was I a bit stinky before asking the other family here for some toiletries? Absolutely! Am I worried that the care packages we brought won't get here in time to share with these precious kids? You betcha! But come this weekend, I will be back home with all the things I need and many more things I don't need. Life will resume for me. And unfortunately the absolute extreme poverty and the overwhelming number of orphans across Ethiopia (and the world) will also continue.