Driving…

We were up with the roosters this morning.  Or even before…We had to be ready at 6:30 for our ride to take us to Awassa.  We were on the road at about 7:00 and stopped to buy fruit for our drive to Awassa, the goal was to give bags of fruit to people in the country.  We stopped at a little fruit stand on the side of the road with about 4,000 birr (250 usd) and we could not spend it all because we would have bought everything in the store.  We made their day spending 2,500 birr.

Off we went with a van full of fruit, except we had to wait another 45 minutes to exchange more money.  While Jill and I waited we went watched lines at the Orthodox Church and listened to the chanting of the priests.  It was a beautiful cathedral and interesting to watch all the people draped in white cloth.

So about 2 hours later we were officially on the way to Awassa.  I love the “road to Awassa”.  You see so many different communities, people, modes of travel, animals.  We had to stop about 5 times for herds of cattle or goats in the road.  The small towns have tiny little shops selling random little things… kids playing foosball or ping pong on the side of the road, donkeys pulling carts both empty and full.  Trucks piled high with who knows what.  And always men waving, saying “hello!” and other simple English phrases as well as thumbs up.  Do we even do thumbs up inAmerica?  I don’t think so…

In the country side there was just vast space, a few trees, cactuses and termite hills.  And lots of people walking, herding animals, holding huge bundles of stuff…There were also many dirty naked children.

We wanted to quickly drop bags of food, but we also thought it would be cool to see a straw roof round “hut”.  So we decided to ask… and the family was very nice, and we were able to peek in their home.  It really had nothing…. the kids were covered in snot.  Many were naked.  The women asked us to take her child.  We said no and she kept asking.  Our driver finally said “OK, put him in the car”  Well, it turns out he called her bluff.  She was just trying to get money out of us.

We wanted to pass out fruit and we did not want to make it a big deal, but the children would not let up.  We would hand a banana out of the window and they would hide it behind their backs and sapass out fruit and we did not want to make it a big deal, but the children would not let up.  We would hand a banana out of the window and they would hide it behind their backs and say “Me?” I think I gave the same child 5 bananas with out realizing.

And now, reflecting on my day, I am sitting in a luxury hotel, drinking a glass of wine on an outdoor patio listening to birds chirp.  We walked to our room under pergola covered in flowers and when we walked into our room our beds were covered in rose petals.

We have been here 2 full days and it feels like 5.  I have slept a total of 10 hours and seen all corners ofAddis Ababa, poor, rich, foreign and native.  It is almost impossible to process.

But the only thing I can really focus on now is that, tomorrow, we get to sleep in. 

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