Travel Journals: [Retold] Day 5

If you are just now tuning into our Travel Journals [Retold] – then WELCOME! You can either go back to the first post and start from the beginning or jump in at any point. These are very dear to my heart and it is my pleasure to share them with you.

May 22, 2011
Hannah’s Hope / Cultural Dinner

Dear Cocoa,

Today started off with a MIRACLE!!! HOT WATER!!!! LOL! I didn’t know it was possible to peel your clothes off so fast! I started showering quickly in fear it would soon be gone, but once my hair was washed and body was cleaned…I began to relax and enjoy. I even had time to shave! Daddy was laughing at the smile on my face, but I know he enjoyed the warmth too.

We were a little disappointed that Wass wasn’t picking us up QUITE as early today, but we did enjoy the time to sit down for breakfast with friends. Though the buffet is getting old….we’re ready to walk down the street and try the highly recommended Sister’s Café….maybe Tuesday. Since our travel group has been hounding us to share the name we’ve chosen for you, we decided to play a little game this morning. Each person could guess a letter, and they only got one clue.  If someone guessed the letter correctly…then everyone would get a shot to guess the name! This continued on in the van as well. They had guessed close….and just when we thought they were not going to get it, Danny (our driver) guessed it! Then they all got shots at the name….and again, got along the lines of your name…but they still didn’t guess it! We let them know our second-choice names to give them clues, but they still were a ways off!

Our ride to Hannah’s Hope was smooth as usual. We always love finding the odd little things that you would NEVER see in America – like donkeys carrying empty bottles of Coca Cola, or men peeing alongside the road, or children waving at a van of white-faces like they were celebrities! We always smile once we turn off the highway to the well-beat road to Hannah’s Hope…and that smile grows even bigger when we see the familiar gates that will lead us to you!


Today we found you lying on a boppy, wide awake and curious, surrounded by lots of other babies! Since it was starting to spit outside, most of us stayed indoors. We took advantage of that time by weighing and measuring each of you. Although you are second oldest in the group, you were BY FAR the tiniest, my love! Only 23 inches and 12 pounds! We love our petite little girl! (But don’t worry dear, the little fighter you have proved to be…you could probably beat any of the other babies up! Not that we would allow it…) Daddy also interviewed one of your special mothers to find out what formula you are on, how many bottles a day, how often they wake you at night, how many naps you take….and any other detail about your schedule. We also talked to the nurse about your health and she assured us, “no problems”….a phrase we have found popular with ALL Ethiopians!

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Weighing in at 12.09 pounds…

By the time the rain stopped we were all eager to get outdoors, so I wrapped you in a blanket and we sat out in chairs under cover, just in case. (Reading this again, I thought that sounded funny…you simply wouldn’t sit outside under cover in weather like that at home…but here in Ethiopia it is quite humid so even though the ground is wet and it is raining on and off…it was warm.) Although you weren’t as insanely smiley as the day before, your face was full of joy and contentment. We could tell that we were becoming more familiar to you, and you were to us! We could begin reading your cues for when you were hungry and when you were tired and you showed us that you really do fall asleep quite quickly as long as we stick to the familiar way of doing it!

One of my favorites…

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I had a hard time sharing bottle and sleeping duties…

After you woke up, it was time for a diaper/outfit change. And as usual, once we were indoors…we couldn’t help but spend some time getting to know the amazing staff at Hannah’s Hope. It was so evident in each of their faces how dearly they loved you. I will eternally be grateful for each of them…


Silly girl…
With the beloved Wass…
Obviously she loves him…


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The stunning painting downstairs (still would love to find this for my own home)…
With her special mother Hirut…


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Gripping mama’s shirt… I’m not going anywhere sweetie…
While you were sleeping, daddy and I tried to convince Wass to let us stay for an extra week, and pay off the embassy to expedite your visa so we could bring you home in one trip. Unfortunately, the more we learn about the process, the less likely that is sounding. But as Tuesday grows nearer, my heart breaks a little more.  Saying goodbye to you just might be the hardest thing I ever have to do. But we’ll just not think about that yet.
Annika’s granola bars were a lifesaver…
Our “lunch” normally consisted of Turkey Jerky and Granola Bars, just so we wouldn’t have to waste the time to go back to the hotel for lunch…
That Wass…he holds a special place in all our hearts…
Sweet daddy kisses…
In daddy’s strong and protecting arms…
After you woke up and had your play time with daddy, he handed you back to me and you were giving me your hungry face. Just as I was stepping inside to ask for a bottle, your special mother called me by name (which I didn’t even know she knew!) and said it was your bath time! I skipped down those marble stairs probably a little too fast (but thankfully didn’t fall) to tell daddy to come help! We went upstairs and it was bath central in your room! Daddy undressed you and played with you on the floor while I snapped pictures until it was our turn.
Daddy insisted on giving you your first bath (as he had with your big brother as well), but I had a blast video-taping it! You were completely content and it made me so happy! I still think I got the best part of the job though – lotioning you up and oiling your hair! Mmm…it made you smell even MORE amazing…and it made your skin and hair just GLISTEN! Unfortunately, we only got a few more minutes of cuddles after that and then it was time to head back to the hotel.
He looks good in pink, doesn’t he?
This man. He rarely asks me to give you up because he knows how hard it is on me. But it was due time he got to feed you a bottle…
Everyone kept asking how long your hair was…
That was about the time that we realized we would have to say goodbye to your two special mothers! Apparently they do one week of day shift and then one week of night shift, so this would be the last time we would see them on this trip. The goodbyes made me realize how near we are to the end of our trip and that alone made me cry. I cherish these two women and I’m so thankful for the love and attention they gave you!
Back at the hotel, we did what we always do…crash the Bentley’s room for their internet service!  It was still early in the morning back home…too early to Skype with family. So I uploaded pictures, updated Facebook, and sent an update email to everyone. When Grandma VG logged into Skype, I was so excited to see your brother again! He has developed a really bad cold while we’ve been here in Ethiopia, and it has been really hard to be gone. But Grandpa and Grandma say he is happy and doing great…and hasn’t even asked for me since the drive to their house from the airport (I don’t know how well I believe that though)!
At 6:00pm tonight, Danny picked us up to take us to the cultural dinner at Yod Abysinia Restaurant. On the way there, we picked up Tsige, which I was thankful for because she was able to explain to us what we were eating and the story lines in the dancing we saw, not to mention she is a pleasure to have as company. The food was incredible, as expected! All five families, plus Tsige and Danny sat around two small mesob tables. There was injera covering each one, and then the waitresses came and served hot food on the injera – tibbs, doro wot, shiro, lentils, banana root, and much, much more! It was absolutely delicious, and nearly impossible to stop once full! I can’t wait to learn how to cook even more of the amazing traditional food at home.
Our entire group…
The L Family…
The S Family…
The K Family…
The B Family with Tsigie…
The R Family…
Washing hands before dinner…
Serving the food…
One of my favorite dishes…
If you needed some added spice…


Right around the time we finished eating, the music started playing on stage. A man who we all nicknamed “Snoop Dogg” was on the drums. That went on for a while and eventually some singers came on stage, and then it transitioned into some dancing as well.
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In the midst of the performance, we were served our dessert – popcorn, coffee and honey wine.


The dancing is absolutely amazing – we’re still wondering how they get their bodies to move like that! After hounding Tsige, she started showing us her moves too…and then Brittany joined in! After the song was over, one of the dancers came out into the audience and pulled Brittany on stage. She tried to drag me with her, but I completely panicked and refused. She did a fantastic job though and got smothered in kisses from the man she danced with!



On the way home, Tsige was able to explain a little bit more about the story line in one of the dances…which we had pretty much assumed, even though we didn’t understand the language. We dropped her off at home and went back to our hotel for the night.

I’ll leave you with some videos of the dancing below. (And if for some reason they have trouble loading…you can feel free to visit my YouTube Channel and watch it there.)


Man, I am going to MISS this place! It is truly an amazing country! Nervous and excited about what the morning brings!

Love You,

*Continue to follow our Travel Journals to Day 6


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