Sunday, July 19, 2009

Shopping Day in Ethiopia


We were up around 6:30am on Tuesday, Silas' normal awake time. Silas slept pretty good and was in a pretty good mood waking up. Praise God! We got ready and went down to breakfast. It was a very similiar spread to what we had on Monday ... crepes, coffee, eggs, toast ... but no good french toast.

We were all to meet at Hannah's Hope (HH) at 9am to leave our kiddos and hop on a bus to go on our shopping excursion. At about 8:50am, no one was in the lobby of the hotel so we wondered if we were late so we took off to HH ... just the 3 of us. It was kinda surreal making that walk back to HH with Silas this time ... walking through the gate WITH him. Well, we weren't left behind. We were the first ones there! We felt kinda bad for leaving the other families at the hotel.

We reluctantly give Silas over to one of his special mothers. T, the boy who we have the mp3 of his family for him to listen to, came up to me and pulled the pull-back car I had given him on Monday. I think he was very proud of it and wanted to show me he still had it and he was definitely grateful for it. I was mad at myself for not having our ipod with us. I just prayed that I got to see him again before we left. I didn't know what his school schedule would be and if we would be able to see him again.

We were told by a previous traveling family that one of they guys at HH liked peanut butter crackers. So we had a bag of PB crackers, trail mix and some m&m's to give to him. I asked Julie our case manager if she'd seen him and she wasn't sure where he was. We couldn't find him before jumping on the bus so we just kept the bag to give him later. As Julie is getting on the bus, she tells me that my guy is there. Sweet! So we were able to give him the goodies and I think something was lost in translation but you could tell he was very appreciative ... he didn't know what to think!

So we left for shopping. Driving was crazy as usual. It was unreal to see all the 'sights' along the way. It was definitely an eye-opening experience to see the stores along with the people. There were so many people along the street. It makes you wonder where they were all going.

The view out the front of the bus

A furniture store

We get to the shopping destination and are told we have an hour to do our shopping. We had heard this from previous traveling families and were told to make a list of things we wanted to buy. We had no idea what we wanted to buy. We knew we wanted to get him a traditional outfit or 2, a drum ... but that was about it. We were also told about the 'bartering' side of buying things. We weren't really sure about this knowing the needs of the people ... we decided to play it by ear to see costs of things and decide once we started shopping.

Shopping consisted of alot of store-fronts along really one road. We decided to go to the far end and work our way back. That way, as we bought stuff, we would be walking towards the bus and not having to carry the stuff as far. The first shop we went in was ran by a beautiful woman. We ended up buying a few things from her ... Giraffes for his room, sandals to him when he's a few years older, a little drum.

Amber with the owner of the first store we went into

As we walked in and out of shops, the owners were definitely wanting you to go into their shops. They would ask you to come in and take a look. Not in a pushy way like we experienced in Jamaica on our honeymoon but just in a 'salesman' sort of way. We bought a small stool for him, traditional outfits, Amber got a purse (she's kicking herself for not buying more). We also bought alot of things to give him later in life that I won't go into detail here because Silas will read this some day :) We decided to not really barter unless we bought multiple things from one place. I mean, the wooden giraffes were like $4 U.S. , Amber's purse was $4 ... I just couldn't barter for those kind of prices.

As we walked along the streets, children would come up to us. Some asking to shine/clean our shoes, some trying to sell the little pack of Kleenex or little packs of gum, some just asking for birr (Ethiopian money). It was so sad ... you wanted to help them all. And the same kids would follow you on the street ... as you went into a store and back out, they would be there. We would secretly give birr here and there to kids ... if it was made known, it would have been chaos ...

As we finished shopping (that hour went quick!), we walked back to the bus with our purchases. We had thought about buying an Ethiopian map as many men were selling them on the street. One guy kept coming up to me trying to sell me a map. It was just a standard wall map you could buy from anywhere ... he wanted like $25 US dollars for it! I just couldn't justify spending that so we ended up not getting a map ... I think we'll just order one online.

I had taken a backpack full of the peanut butter crackers, trail mix, and m&m's to hand out to kids. I had decided to wait until we were about to leave because of the chaos it could bring about. I stand on the corner, open my bag, and start handing out to kids. In a matter of seconds, kids and kids and kids galore. All grabbing and ripping things out of my hands. I should have know there would be no order to this. It was kinda sad because a store owner comes out with a stick and 'threatens' the kids to back up. I guess they have these sticks to keep them from begging/etc in front of their stores. As I'm handing them out, Julie comes up with a boy and asks if I have anything left. She said he was real sweet and had been trying to sell a pack of gum to her the whole time. I did and gave him alot of what I had left. He was so grateful. I run out of snacks and hop back on the bus. The gum boy is on the other side of the street eating away. Every time I'd look over, he'd smile big, show me his snack, and wave. Wow, the heart of a child. I tried to get a good pic of him but every time I did, an older boy would stand right in front of him.

Julie's 'gum boy' eating his crackers. Only picture I got of him because the other guy kept standing in my way.
We leave the shopping and head to an Italian restaurant for lunch. We had heard about this place from other families and knew there was an opportunity to buy hand-painted canvas pictures there. So we arrive, sit down, and order our food. Julie order some foccacia bread for an appetizer and it was so good! While we were waiting for our food, we walked around the restaurant looking at the paintings. We were given a price sheet when we walked in but were told the prices were 'high'. Apparently the owner had the banker coming that day for appraisals and he had adjusted his prices. He told us things would be discounted. Well, one painting stood out to me. Amber didn't quite have the same feeling. She thought it was nice ... but expensive which it was. I told her I'd think about it during lunch. We had ordered the prosciutto & onion pizza. Wasn't bad but pretty bland. I also had 2 cokes during lunch ... I drank mostly bottled water but it was a nice change to drink a coke every now and then. The picture was in my sight during lunch and I couldn't take my eyes off on it. The colors were so vibrant they'd knock you down. The painting was outside of a church. It had people standing outside and it was raining so they had their umbrellas out. It was amazing.

So I kept internally debating. And debating. And debating. I ask Amber and she says 'whatever you think.' Gotta love that response. :) We knew we were going to the Fistula Hospital tomorrow and we were told by a family that they had paintings there too. Julie asks for the check and that was the call to action. To buy or not to buy? No other family was going to buy anything. I go up and look at it again ... talk to the owner ... and pull the trigger! I decided to buy it. I know that others have said if you're debating something to do it because you'll regret it later. So he takes it down and they take it off its wooden frame and put it in a tube for us to be able to bring home. We are now both glad we bought it ... it will be an unreal piece to give Silas some day.

We pay and leave. Kristi decided not to go shopping with us but wanted some pizza so we got one to-go for her. As we left, there was a store that some families bought some spices, etc. As we were standing there with Kristi's pizza, kids came up to ask asking for some food. It tore me up. Not that we were there with her pizza, but that we, as a travel group, probably just threw away a pizza or 2 in leftovers that we didn't eat. That truly defined the American culture to me. So wasteful. I was so mad at myself about not taking the leftover pizza to give to them.

We hop on the bus and see that Johannes had picked up our coffee. 22 pounds worth! We had at least twice the amount of any other family but it was going to be our gift to family and friends. We ride back to the hotel to drop off all our purchases and then walk back to HH. Amber goes upstairs to get Silas and she was up there for a little bit. It gave me time to play peek-a-boo with Paul & DeeDee's girl who was in the adjacent room to the bottom of the stairs. That girl is amazing. Amber was taking some time so I head on upstairs to see what was going on. We got pictures of each daytime special mother with Silas. I'm so happy for these because these were the only still pictures we got of them and they are GREAT!

This was his favorite special mother.

The men of Hannah's Hope love the children so much. It was so great to see!

We leave to go back to the hotel. We pretty much just hung out in the lobby and outside the rest of the night. We ordered supper ... we both got cheeseburger & fries. We were told by other families the cheeseburger isn't beef ... it's more like ox or something. It definitely was more gamey but I liked it ... Amber didn't care for it too much. The fries weren't that great but we were not expecting a whole lot.

Hanging out on the steps of The Union Hotel

Mr. Observant

We went upstairs for bath and bedtime but mommy had to have Silas try on a few things....

First, she had to get in some play/tickle time

One of his new Ethiopia hats

He had so much more fun with bathtime than he did the day before. This was right after the bath and chewing on something, of course.

So we took this outfit with us with this hat. The thing was like a skull cap on him. Boy has a big head. I think he may still have a circle indentation around his head from this hat. His hair may never grow the same :)

Wednesday was definitely the busiest day we had .. between birth-family meeting, playing at Hannah's Hope, paperwork meeting, visiting the Fistula Hospital, and the traditional dinner, it was a long but great day. Hopefully, that will be written about soon!


"Indescribable" said...

Is that a cracked windshield you were traveling with .... YIKES!

Shopping was quite an experience. It's so hard to NOT give hand-outs, and then it's so hard TO give hand-outs... I hated the scene. I snuck an older women a wad of birr and then worried that others might have seen her receive it and would do something to her.... UGGG

Will you share a picture of the picture?

I enjoy reading about your trip. Brings me right back there..... only 22 k of coffee....

Dawn said...

That was Jaxson's favorite special mother too!! She's so sweet. Those women are just amazing. So glad you bought a painting too - you definitely would have regretted it I think.

Eastiopians said...

Great post! I definitely want a glad to see someone else did too. We value art so much in our grandmother was an artist & her paintings are all over my house, etc. so that would be SO special to us. Anyway, I loved how detailed you were in your takes me there in a small way. Thanks Troy!


Kristi J said...

great how detailed you are with it...I'll send LL to your blog some day to read about our trip :) ha... see yall soon, kj

Mandy said...

Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I feel like I have a little bit of knowledge of what to expect. I love all of the pictures and you do such a great job of describing both the atmosphere and emotions. Awesome!

Amber said...

loving all of this.

hope you guys are doing fine

Tara said...

sounds wonderful!!! can't wait to experience it myself, thanks for your kind words

Randy and Christine said...

Want an update! Silas is a great name. He is absolutely gorgeous. We're hoping to go to Ethiopia next year, so I would love some input :)