Monday, March 3, 2014

Update on preparations

We leave for Ethiopia in about five weeks. Here is the update on our preparations:

- Ethiopian visas: Fed Ex should deliver tomorrow.

- UAE visas: The UAE consulate says we don't need them. All my Saudi and Kuwaiti students who have flown through the UAE agree.

- Shots and other vaccinations: Mostly done for A. He gets one more shot later this month and we'll fill his prescriptions right before we go. My vaccinations are still good from the last trip, and I still have some unexpired prescriptions.

- Accommodation in Addis Ababa: We are staying at a guest house near the university. Many guesthouses are in the Bole area and I remember there being many ferenji in the area and as a result, many aggressive peddlers. The university area is much quieter, while giving easy access to restaurants, shopping and museums.

- Driver to take us south
- Interpreter
This is where things get a little vaguer. My new Burjii friend in Colorado has asked his brother in Ethiopia to drive and interpret for us. He is 100% sure his brother can do it. I have exchanged some brief messages with the brother, who says he is ready for anything. So while my American side is screaming out for dates, times, names, places, prices and reservations, I am trying to breathe and relax and trust that we are in good hands. I have lived or spent time in eight different African countries. I know that it is not only culturally appropriate to start a journey relying heavily on faith, it is also more realistic. Sure, everyone can promise me that a specific car will deliver me to a specific hotel at a specific time on a specific day for a specific price, but why make a promise that will probably be broken? Better for me to trust that these are good, kind people who are looking out for my child because he is Burjii, and somehow, insha'Allah, it will all work out.

- Accommodation in the south: Rumor has it there is a hotel in Hagere Mariam, near the edge of Burjii.

- Tell family we are coming: Done, both through Colorado's brother and an Amharic-speaking friend on our end.

- Try to prepare family with realistic expectations (A no longer speaks Burjii etc.): This was good advice, but I don't think it's going to happen.

- Photo albums for family
- Videos of D to show family
- Gifts/donations
I will work on these when we return from Florida.

- Prepare A emotionally: We are talking about our trip a lot, but I don't think he understands the reality of it yet. He gets sad when a Burjii person tries to speak Burjii to him and he doesn't understand.

- Prepare D for our absence: Often D gets so stuck on what he doesn't have that he can't appreciate what he has. We told him we are going to Florida and he mostly wanted to know why we aren't going to California. The trip to Ethiopia has been different. I don't know why my child has chosen this moment to focus on the positive, but I am so grateful he has. My mother will come down while we are gone and he is unequivocally excited to have yiayia all to himself.

- One last preparation that I hadn't planned on: Colorado is teaching me some words in Burjii!

I am so excited about our trip!!!


  1. This is so exciting! Wishing you all the best for your adventures, and I hope we get to read a bit about them.

  2. This is so exciting, since I'm living vicariously through you. I think when the time comes, I know that we will have to play much of our trip by ear, without a plan, but with good intentions. I am not sure that I will be able to handle that so well when the time comes, though.

  3. I am so excited for you and for A! I hope everything works out beautifully - I'm sure it will.

  4. Wishing you both a most memorable trip!

  5. Sounds like you're making great progress! I'm a planner by heart, and I know I will struggle with the parts about being able to only make so many plans and having to sort of play the rest by ear. But I know that's the Ethiopian way and it's also all we may be able to accomplish from afar. Can't wait to hear more about your plans, and of course to hear all about your trip!