Wednesday, February 2
Today was basically a free day for us, to souvenir shop, sight-see, whatever. Aaron and I and another couple went together, and we started with shopping. There are literally stores EVERYWHERE, but our drivers know the best places to go. The first place we went was the Kechene girls shop, where they are able to make different things and sell them to give them a way to make money when they age out of the orphange. This is another program Belay started. I found a little dress for B, and a couple other things. Then we went to the “post office” area. They had just lots of little shops with all the typical Ethiopian souvenirs. We found some fun things there too, and then went to Tomoca coffee shop. You can buy bags of coffee as well as drink some there and we did both. I know everyone says it, but the coffee here is really good. And inexpensive. I am actually drinking the best cappuccino of my life right now, and it was 50 cents.
After that we headed up Entoto mountain to some churches and historical places. That drive was intense. The drive up Entoto and back down is 18 miles, up a steep winding road. And as we drove we kept seeing women, from very old to very young carrying HUGE bundles of sticks and wood on their backs. Like so big and heavy they were bent over at the waist. Oh, and one very old lady was not wearing shoes. We found out later they make that journey of 18 miles every day, carrying 50-70 pounds on their back and get paid what amounts to 60 cents. It is the only way they can make any money for themselves or their families, so they do it. Every day. That's a pretty good way to get some perspective, thinking about how hard some people have to work just to survive. I did give one of them money, but it's one of those situations where you just don't know what to do. There is shop now, for women who don't want to carry those loads anymore weaving scarves, but we still saw at least 50 or more.
At the top of Entoto there is the first church ever built in Addis, and the first Emperor of modern Ethiopia's palace. Not like the kind of palace you usually think of, he was very humble for an Emperor. :) It was so neat learning the history of Ethiopia and Addis. We also went to another very historical Orthodox church, and saw a cave 700 years old that had been a church as well.
We ate lunch late today, around 3:00, and again had another fabulous meal. We are back in our room now, just watched a thunderstorm (very unusual this time of year), and excited for our last visit tomorrow with sweet B!