Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Harar Excursion - by Linz

Today was filled with so many amazing sights, smells, sounds and feelings and yet was one of our most relaxing days in Ethiopia so far.

We started the day early, meeting our guide, Yonas at 5:45 for an early flight to Harar. We had no idea what to expect from Lielti on the plane, but as soon as we woke her up and told her it was time to fly to Harar, she was excited. She even liked going through security and was especially tickled watching the luggage onto the conveyor belt at check in. We boarded the plane and she sat right down and buckled her seat belt and then immediately said, "Mom, game please". So she sat excitedly alternating between playing temple run and looking out the window. Even at take off and landing she never had a moment of nervousness. She did great! When we landed she looked and me and said "down".

It was fun to see her so excited to try new things, but the best part of the morning was realizing that she was opening up to us and we were getting to see her personality a bit more. She was more confident in trying English.

We landed in a city called Dire Dawa, where we checked into a very nice hotel. After we settled in, we started our one hour drive to Harare. It was so fun to see a more rural picture of Africa. People were excited to see us and would often shout "Forengo!" which is a friendly way of saying "Hi Foreigner". The kids were especially excited to wave to us and we were greeted with many excited smiles.


On the way to Harar, we drove through the very small town of Hamaressa where Lielti was born. She didn't remember it, but we took a lot of photos.

When we arrived in Harar, we went to Tsion orphanage where Lielti spent a few months before joining the America World transition home. Lielti walked in and was eager to give hugs to the director and staff and her former guardian. While we were there we had a meeting with the woman who was her care giver before coming to Tsion. She was a wonderful lady who shared with us what she knew of Lielti's past, her temperament, and how they spent their time together. It was nice to feel like we finally had some sort of glimpse into her life before we met her.

After our meeting, the staff prepared a coffee ceremony for us. It was a sunny day and we sat on a small patio drinking the best cup of coffee we have ever had (Brad even had two cups and said he truly liked it) with two of the ladies who took care of Lielti before us. It was emotional, but also felt so nice. After that we went to lunch and Lielti's guardian joined us. I shared pictures of Lielti with her on our phone and got to see her look sweetly at some and laugh enthusiastically at others. After lunch, we said our good byes and thanked her once again and then we went separate ways.

We spent the afternoon driving through the old city of Harar, known as the walled city. The wall was originally constructed over 500 years ago and we drove around the whole things stopping at each of the five gates.

We got out and walked through crowded markets full of fresh spices, grains, coffee, baskets and fabric. It was crowded and energetic and so friendly. A couple of people asked about us and Lielti, and when our guide explained the situation they were excited for her future in the states.

After an early evening Macchiato and a nice visit with our guide, we drove out to feed the Hyenas. Yep! We all fed hyenas, with a short stick, right in front of us, and we let them jump on us to eat as well. In Harar, there are holes in the wall to let the Hyenas into the city to sort of "clean up" at night. This is very different than the picture that National Geographic had painted in my head about Hyenas. But every evening, there is a man who goes out and calls the Hyenas into the city, then you sit next to him on the ground (that's right at a Heyena's face level) and you feed them meat. Lielti was once again all in and didn't seem nervous at all. She had a huge smile watching the whole thing unfold. We each took a turn, Leilti wanted Brad to go with her and then I had my turn followed by our guide. It really didn't end up being scary at all, but it sure was stinky! Turns out eating dead animals gives Hyenas a very unpleasant odor!

After our full day, we drove and hour back to Dire Daiwa. Lielti fell asleep on my lap within about 5 minutes and I enjoyed a nice long snuggle with my girl. Followed by the best night sleep we have had so far. We now get to enjoy a relaxing morning exploring Dire Dawa before we fly back to Addis this afternoon. We are so glad we were able to make this trip. We both said this was our favorite day in Ethiopia this trip.

We have many more pictures to post with this, but our connection is too slow and we have to get going back to Addis!

1 comment:

Young Living in the Country said...

So enjoying following along with your exciting journey. Praying for safe travels.