Saturday, December 7, 2013

Patience is the Key

I have an early childhood memory of being locked in a public bathroom while my panicked parents stood on the other side of the door with members of some fast food chain restaurant staff, most likely management, attempting to give me directions on how to unlock the door. I was probably 3 years old. I remember them telling me what to do and understanding what it meant but not being able to make my little hands twist and turn the way that they needed to in order to unlock the door.  I had not thought about this experience in MANY years. I had no reason to draw on this little kernel of knowledge…until tonight that is.

This holiday season our family has jumped onto the Advent Calendar bandwagon! Well, sort of. The boys and I came up with the idea of an Advent Jar. Here in Ethiopia there is no Michaels or Hobby Lobby for me to buy craft supplies, we had to come up with an idea that would work with the few supplies that I brought with me. Brenden suggested putting 24 activities into a jar and rather than numbering the activities, as you would in a traditional advent calendar, we could just draw randomly for each day.  Sounded like a GREAT and easy idea to me so we found an old preggo spaghetti sauce jar, wrapping paper, white paint and some sequins and set to work decorating.

We choose the activity each night before we go to bed and then we actually do the activity the next day. This allows me to do any prep work during the day while the kids are at school if necessary. For tonight’s activity we chose “bake cookies”. The boys were so excited that after we baked the cookies a quick game of hide and seek spontaneously erupted with boys running to and fro, chasing and catching and hiding all over the house. It was loud and noisy but I didn’t mind, the screams were happy screams….at first. Then the screams turned in to Brenden freaking out and shouting way too loudly for me. I’m just in the other room SERIOUSLY! What is wrong?!!?!?!? “Jake locked himself in the play room”! RIGHT….because the 2 year old can close that big heavy door and then turn the key to lock the door.

On a side note, every stinking door and cupboard in the two Ethiopian houses that I have lived in has a lock, with a key in it! The doors have locks with keys for every room in the house. This means that people can be locked in and out of rooms all over my house.

I walked over to the playroom and sure enough Jake has successfully locked himself inside the room, oh and the light was off in the playroom as well. This is where the vague memory from my childhood comes into play. When I was locked in the fast food restaurant bathroom I don’t think that I got myself out, maybe I did I’m not sure…maybe my parents can weigh in on this but I do remember that it felt like I was in there a LONG time. I kept trying to remember how I got out of there and I kept coming up with nothing. Did they find a key? Did someone pick the lock? Did I eventually figure it out? 

I have now become my parents. I am on the other side of the door giving directions to a two and a half year old, Oh Joy!  I begin with
 “Jake, it’s Mommy, can you turn the key?”
 “I’m hiding from James, I not come out”.

Of course what better way to win at hide and seek than to lock the seekers out of the hiding place?!

 “Jake, James isn’t going to find you, open the door.”
 Hysterical laughter now erupts from James and Brenden.

“ James – A- get me.“
This is where I tell the older boys to shut up, yes I said shut up! This was stressful ok! My baby is locked in a dark room at 7:30pm with his favorite blankets; if I can’t get him to open this door and he falls asleep I’m not sure what I’ll do! So no judgments! 

After the older boys calm down I decide on a new tactic.

“Jake, can you pull the key out and slide it under the door?”
 “I not come out!”
 “Jake the game is over, YOU WON!”
“Oh Okay, I come out now”.

 Jiggle, Jiggle, bang, knock,

“Mommy, get me out, I stuck”.
 That is what I’m trying to tell you buddy! Now I have to be cautious we are heading toward a toddler melt down if I’m not careful.

“Jake, hunny, its ok, just pull the key out and put it on my fingers”.

I heard some pulling and jingling and then

“Oh No! I breaked it”.
 “No, No you didn’t just give me the key”.

 I feel the key being put softly on my finger tips that are shoved under the door. Excited that this whole mess is now coming to an end I slide the key in the lock. Of course it can’t be that easy.  The key won’t go in all the way! There are about 5 keys to that door all on the same key chain that is attached to the key in the door.  The key that Jake gave wasn’t the key that was in the lock. The key in the lock is keeping me from unlocking the door!

“Jake, I need you to pull the key that is in the lock out and give it to me”.

Jacob now proceeds to rip each of the 4 keys off of the chain until only the key in the lock is left. I’m pleading at this point for him to pull the darn thing out He is getting scared now and starting to cry a little. I send Brenden to tell the night guard. The guard calls the duty tech. I continue to talk to Jake through the door. Just when I was about to give up hope I hear the key slide out of the lock!!!

“Mommy, I get the key for you”.
“Great job buddy, now hand it to me”.

He did and I unlocked the door and let the little monkey out of that dark room. He sure was happy and the older boys were too. They were getting really nervous! We let the guard know that the emergency had been averted and all was well.  As Brenden made some celebratory hot cocoa, I scooped Jake up to snuggle on the couch. I couldn’t help but wonder if he will someday have a vague memory of being locked in a dark room while his mother and brothers attempt to talk him through unlocking a door. Until next time friends and family.

 Survival Tips: Helping your kids out of sticky situations 

  1. Ensure all keys have been removed from doors, before any games begin. 
  2. Speak in a clear and calm voice when directing toddlers on the finer points of locks and keys.
  3. Be patient! 
  4. Keep annoying older siblings far enough away that their laughter does not distract the young child from his task. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

I Hate Losing More Than I Like Winning

Hello friends and family! It is hard to believe that I have lived in Addis for about 7 months now! My how time flies! I came to the realization that I will be leaving in less than half a year and I have all of these mixed emotions.  I am genuinely sad to leave. I feel like there is still so much that I could learn from this place. Not to mention that I will be moving my children before the end of the school year….AGAIN!

I decided that I needed to try to be excited to go back to the States. How? Those of you who know me personally are aware of my exercise, fitness, and health obsession. For those of you who don’t know me personally, lets just say that the Hubs fondly refers to me as “The Food Natzi” on a regular basis. Since moving to Addis I’ve only been able to work out at home and sporadically at that. When I don’t exercise I become this grumpy, mean person! So, I decided that I would use my love of fitness to help me to get excited about going back to California. I have decided to run the Big Sur Half Marathon! I couldn’t register a year in advance however, so I decided that putting this news out on the World Wide Web was the was the next best thing. Now I have to run the race! I’ve told EVERYONE!

I have several reasons for choosing this particular event.
1)   I have PLENTY of training time!
2)   The race will be held in the town where I will be living
3)   I’ve always wanted to run a half marathon, I’ve just been too scared.
4)   I live in freaking Addis Ababa!!! 8,000ft elevation baby!

I believe that running in the Big Sur half-marathon kind of ties these two parts of my life together! I can be excited about going back to Cali but I’m using one of the many wonderful aspects of life in Addis to help me to be successful. It may seem superficial and a little lame to some but for me it’s a way to help me get through this emotionally tough transitional time here in Addis.

I am beginning by training for a 10k.  Like I said earlier I have only been working out on and off so, I am starting from the bottom. I came up with a training schedule and so far I’ve stuck to it. It has only been about 10 days and we will see how my determination holds up in a few weeks.

So, now you are wondering where the heck do I train? You have all heard me complain about the roads here so, running in the city is not something that I want to subject myself to on a regular basis. I see people training in the city so I know that it can be done but I have nearly killed runners on more than one occasion and I've seen my friends battle scars from falls that they've taken while running in Addis. I have decided that the bulk of my training will have to be done on a track. Lame, boring but necessary!

One of the best tracks in all of eastern Africa is located at the International Community School of Addis Ababa. Lucky for me, my children attend this school. That gives me access to the track! SCORE! (I seriously have to write a post about this school at some point).  

I began my training last week at the ICS track. My goal was to run 2.5 miles. Brenden was recently in a play and had dress rehearsal that night. My plan was, I would run and he would rehearse.  When I showed up at the track I stretched a little, warmed up and started jogging. As I was making my way around the track I saw that someone else was also running. It was dark outside so I hadn’t noticed him at first. This is where my competitive side rears its ugly head. I knew that I wasn’t in good enough shape to lap him but maybe I could keep pace with him. He was on the exact other side of the track from me and that is where I wanted to keep him. I picked up the pace, frequently looking to make sure he wasn’t catching up with me. 

The first 5 laps or so weren’t so bad. I was able to keep him where he needed to be, directly opposite of myself. The next five laps were a challenge. I was huffing and puffing! My lungs were on FIRE! I haven’t trained at elevation in about 7 years, not since we lived in Colorado! By lap ten I had to admit defeat and I decided that it was ok to walk just one lap. I slowed down and grabbed my water bottle. As I walked the man caught up to me and lapped me. As he ran past I realized that not only had I LOST (yes in my head we were racing), I had lost to a man that is probably 30 years older than myself!!!!!!!!!!!! Well any thoughts of walking a second lap vanished as the older man ran past with as much effort as peaceful stroll in the park!  Motivation renewed I ran and continued to run until he left, then I ran one more lap after he was gone to make up for the one that I had walked. I had long ago lost track of the number of laps that I was supposed to be doing to reach my 2.5 miles. I had my mind set on not being beaten…again! 

I know, I have issues! The good news is that I have managed to stick to my training schedule and I’m hoping that I can continue to stick to it! For about 4 days after the first run I was sore. My stomach was sore. My legs were sore. Even my back was sore. My sick and twisted brain loved it! I’m having a lot of fun training for this event. I’m having fun racing people who don’t know that they are racing me. I’m getting excited to run at sea level in California and who knows, I might actually do well!  Wish me luck! Until next time Friends and Family!

Survival Tips for Training at 8,000ft Elevation

1.    Drink TONS of water. I have had to increase my water intake to about 1 gallon a day!
2.    Actually rest on your rest days!
3.    Start slow, I need to take my own advice.
4.    Eat enough healthy food!
5.    Sleep!
6.    Don’t get discouraged, eventually your body will adjust!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Silk Trade

This week I had the opportunity to visit Sabahar. Sabahar is a company that produces hand woven cotton and silk products here in Addis Ababa. That's right folks I said SILK! I had no idea that anyone was making silk in Ethiopia. If you were unaware of this as well don't feel bad, silk production was only introduced to Ethiopia about 15 years ago. That isn't to say that Ethiopians are unfamiliar with silk, apparently the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has imported silk from Asia for close to a thousand years. They would import silk products and then unravel them and reweave them to make robes and other ceremonial clothing for priests. Pretty cool!  

Ethiopian hospitality

The owner of Sabahar Kathy Marshal
The beautiful grounds at Sabahar

The silk that is used to make the beautiful textiles at Sabahar are made using Eri silk which is considered a "Wild Silk". The more commonly known Mulberry silks (the silk most widely used in Asia) is more difficult for the women here to weave. The Eri silk has a consistency that is close to cotton which most rural Ethiopian women already know how to spin, it's not too much of step to learn to spin silk if you can spin cotton, or so I'm told. Check out Sabahar's website, they explain it all much better than I am! Sabahar

Eri Silk cocoons that are spun into usable silk

Eri Silk Worms


Pretty big!

This is what they look like before they become butterflies

The Butterfly! 
The butterflies lay the eggs!

Spinning cotton
After they collect the silk they have to spin it into thread. Ethiopia has a long history of weaving beautiful cotton products, at Sabahar they weave both silks and cotton, sometimes together to make BEAUTIFUL scarves, shawls, bedspreads etc.

Spinning Silk

Sabahar also imports fancier silks from India to weave beautiful scarves that are sold in places like Italy.

Sabahar imports scraps of old Sari's from india and weaves them into beautiful scarves.

After spinning the cotton and silks they dye the thread. They use natural dyes like onion peels! The onion peels turns the silk green! Who knew!?

Crushed lady bugs

The purples and reds are accomplished by using a pesky lady bug that kills the cactus in the Tigre region. 

Marigolds and other flowers are used to make yellows and orange.

After dying the thread they weave it all by hand on HUGE looms! It is amazing to watch them work. 

After the scarves are woven they are cleaned up and put out for sale or exported. 

And there you have it friends and family, beautiful silk and cotton textiles all hand made and fair trade approved! Of course I bought way too much and I can't wait to head back and get more!!!
Until next time friends and family!

Survival Guide for Buying Silk

  1. Bring enough money! That is all! 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tribal Adventures

Tribal Adventures

With fall break approaching quickly the Hubs and I decided that it was time for another “outside of Addis” adventure. We chose to travel to the southern part of Ethiopia, The Omo Valley. The only thing that I really knew about the south was that the people who wear the “lip plates” live there and that I needed to get the family on malaria meds QUICK. I swiftly discovered that there is MUCH much more to the southern people than lip plates! We visited our favorite tour company and arranged for a 6 day driving tour that would take us on an unforgettable, one of a kind adventure.

Sunday night we packed our bags and prepared as best we could for our adventure. Of course Jacob was sick. He had a double ear infection and was on antibiotics that, of course, had to be refrigerated! You may be wondering, what is the big deal? You have to remember where we are. Power is highly unreliable in Ethiopia but we decided to put the meds in a cooler and hoped for the best. James and the Hubs were also not well so I basically brought a pharmacy with me!

DAY 1 – Arbaminch – Visit the Dorze village and weekly market on the way to Arbaminch.

Our driver, Girmachew, picked us up promptly at 7am. We quickly realized that perhaps the tour company may not have been aware of how much space 2 adults, 3 children and six days of luggage for 5 people occupy. There was a spare tire in the back of the car where the back seats should have been. When we removed the tire we discovered that the back folding seats had no seat belts! Having lived in Ethiopia for six months we were annoyed by the lack of vehicle safety but not entirely surprised. We loaded the luggage into the back of the car and then we packed Brenden in the little seatbelt-less seat beside the baggage. The TV’s were hooked up in the middle seats for Jake, James and the Hubs, I folded myself into the front and we were on our way. Before you start feeling too bad for Brenden being thrown into the trunk with the luggage I want you to know that we believe in putting our children into uncomfortable dangerous situations in equal parts so James and Brenden switched seats everyday.  

The big visit for day one was the Dorze Village and market. We arrived at the market and our local guide met us at the car. The guide’s name was something that I can’t remember and couldn’t pronounce but he told me that I could call him Tim. Much better! He was a nice guy with the craziest hair that I have ever seen. It was like one huge dreadlock sticking awkwardly out to the side. He looked like a cartoon character. Like I said before he was a nice enough guy.  The Dorze Market was not a large market but it was just as chaotic as all of the other markets that we have visited in the past. 

Tim told us that if we wanted to take pictures of the market at large that it was ok but if we wanted to take pictures of individuals it would cost us about 2 birr. We were warned that we would be paying for pictures so I wasn’t too shocked by this piece of information. As we entered the market a swarm of children surrounded us in an attempt to sell trinkets, gawk, laugh or beg from “the Ferenjies”. It was challenging to hear all that the guide was saying to us through the kids begging for stuff, the old ladies grabbing at Jake and the general noise of the market. I did decide to take a picture of an old woman selling paste that was scraped from a false banana tree (ensete), left to ferment in the ground for months and will be later baked into a flat bread.  (We ate it and only the hubs thought it was weird) I felt so strange as I crouched to take her photo. The crowed gathered more closely around me watching me with as much interest as I watched the woman.  We finished our tour of the market and headed to the village. The houses of the Dorze people represent elephants (they have elephants in Ethiopia!!!! I didn’t know that.) The smoke vents were the eyes of the elephant. The houses are built tall and every so often the houses are cut at the bottom to remove the portion of the house that has been damaged by termites. Over the years the house is cut to a very small size and is used as a shed or kitchen. I know that you all want to see the pictures, so here they are.

We spent the night in a hotel called The Swaynes Hotel. This hotel was…. adequate, it had beds and mosquito nets. I can’t say that I was comfortable but it was a place to spend the night. Shortly before bed the Hubs decided to tell me about the GIANT spider that he found in his room next door. “It was as big as my palm!” WHY!!??? Why would you do that to someone? Needless to say I dreamt all night about “arachnis - deathicus”. I woke tired and entirely unrested. Luckily the shower was hot even if there was no shower curtain and I got water all over the bathroom. We ate a quick breakfast and loaded the luggage and James into the back of the car and headed out.
Painted House

Lady selling fermented paste from Ensete (false banana tree pulp)

Dorze house (looks like an elephant)

Making the Ensete pulp 

Ensete scraper

Fermenting Ensete pulp

Dorze Warriors

Weaver's loom

Traditional Dorze colors and pattern

Arbaminch rush hour

Human Scarecrows

Day 2 Turmi – Visit Hamar and Benna tribes weekly market. PM visit to Hamar villages.

Our first stop was in Turmi. We ate some lunch at a local restaurant where Jake was once again the main attraction. People LOVE him. He ignores them. After lunch our next guide met us (I can not remember his name). This guide didn’t really do much. I seriously wondered what exactly he was getting paid for. We walked to the market, which was a joke. Most of the products being sold were not being sold to the local people but were marketed to us tourists! …figurines, jewelry stuff like that. I paid a few of the more outlandish looking people for pictures but we didn’t stay long. We headed back to the car as it began to rain. We checked in at the hotel, The Buska Lodge. We found out that there was to be a Hamar Tribe bull jumping ceremony in about an hour. As the rain poured around us we decided that we couldn’t miss the opportunity to attend this very interesting ceremony. We unloaded the car and headed back into town to pick up another guide and headed out into the wilderness where the ceremony was to be held. We drove FOR-EV-ER! Our driver was getting upset, we were behind schedule, and the place was further than the local guide had said.  Eventually we made it. We had to walk the last half-mile or so to the ceremony site. Oh My Goodness! I have never in my life seen anything like this before!

The ceremony is held when a man wants to take his first wife (yes, they have more than one). In order to show his MANLY-ness the groom must run across the backs of many (about 10-20) cows that are lined up side by side. Oh and he runs over the cows naked! The craziest part of this ceremony is not what the man does but what the women do.  For hours before the man runs over the cows, the women are whipped. The women aren’t sad and crying they are happy and allow themselves to be hit with thin switches by the men of the village. They do this to show their support to the groom in his quest for MANLY-ness. It was loud and crazy and tribal, it is the sort of thing that I NEVER EVER thought that I would see outside of the National Geographic Channel. Jake was, of course, a sensation and many people wanted to touch and kiss him. We stayed for hours waiting for the main event. When the man did eventually run on the cows, he was laughed at by the women who had spent the last several hours being whipped because he fell off so many times!  After the ceremony was over our driver rounded us up and quickly steered us away from the ceremony site. He was almost running and kept looking over his shoulder and pushing us along. I seriously felt like we were running away! Maybe the next part of the ceremony involved ferenjie sacrifice.

The lodge was nice, nicer than the last place. The food was good and hot and the bed was soft enough! I passed out cold along with my roommates, Brenden and Jake.
Termite Mound

Hamer Market

Hamer woman

Hamer Man (see the seat in his left hand)


Cow Runner on top of the cows

Termite Mound

Termite eating bird

Hamer beauty queen

Day 3 -  Jinka

We spent most of the day in the car driving. We visited a museum where we learned some interesting facts about life in the various tribes. For instance when you beat one wife more than the other wife the men in the village will beat you. So the take home massage is “beat your wives equally.” WOW!

The Hotel (I use this word loosely) was called the Eco Omo Lodge. This place looked like a summer camp. We stayed in tents! Very expensive tents.  The tents had running water and wood floors but it was still a tent! The food was ok but TOO expensive! The food was a buffet and it was alright but not worth 20 bucks a person! They had Ethiopian food and pasta with sauce, some rice and meat and vegetables. I decided that I was going to have some pasta. I took some spaghetti and put it on my plate. Next to the pasta was a jar of green pesto. YUM!  I love pesto! So I plopped a large amount onto my pasta and walked back to the table to eat. I excitedly stirred the pesto into the pasta then swirled a large amount of pasta onto my fork and took a big delicious bite! As I chewed, I began to feel my mouth and throat burn. Then my lips started burning, oh my! I swallowed the pesto pasta and took a large drink.  I then looked at the Hubs and said “Wow, this Pesto is SO spicy!” He began laughing at me, then he said between gasps of laughter (and comments about blondes) that there was no pesto at the buffet and that what I ate was Ethiopian chili sauce! No wonder my mouth on fire! The kids and the Hubs are still laughing about my pesto!

All in all not my favorite hotel stay. The beds were tiny little cots and there wasn’t enough of them for everyone so Jake was in bed with me and at one point he fell out of bed and crashed onto the floor! I got NO sleep that night and 6:30am came entirely too early!
Fanta Lushes
Desert Flower (before)

Desert Bloom (after)


Guinea Fowl

Beyantu (fasting lunch) 
Summer Camp 


Bird of Prey

Guinea Fowl

Beyantu (fasting lunch) 

Day 4 – Mago National park – Konso

This was the part of the trip that I was both excited and nervous about. We were off to visit the Mursi Tribe. The lip plate people. The women of this tribe stretch their lips over very large plates. They have to pull out the four lower front teeth to accomplish this. I have heard that these people are aggressive and so I was apprehensive about our visit. Our drive through the national park was filled with wild life. We saw many beautiful birds and animals. We saw some crazy people too. One guy that served as a game and culture scout was walking down the road in some impressive underpants, turban type headgear and an AK-47.  We arrived at the Mursi Tribe and were immediately greeted by our guide who quickly explained the rules of the game. 5 birr for any photographs of anyone, Pricey! We headed into the village and the people rushed at me. They saw my camera and immediately wanted me to take their picture for 5 birr. I had to be very stern about who got into the pictures because if you weren’t they would all jump in and then they would all want money! Jake was not comfortable with this at all. I held him for much of our visit and he hid away from people anytime they tried to talk to him. One woman tried to trade me her baby for James. I had to tell her no, I would keep my own kids.

The next stop was the Mursi – Benna – Tsemai market. This market was pretty big and there were interesting people everywhere. They still wanted money for photos so I just held my camera and snapped photos with out looking in the view finder. I actually got some good shots. The Hubs entered into the age old past time of haggling with a local merchant who was selling a statue of a Hamar "first wife." I couldn’t stand around and watch so I walked through the market with Jake. It wasn’t long before we had our usual escort of begging children. I took Jake to look at a baby sheep and a boy quickly snatched the sheep by the leg and held the poor thing down for Jake to pet. Then they asked me if I wanted to buy it!

The Hubs was eventually successful at purchasing his statue, two calabash (dried and hollowed gourds used for holding milk or beer) a traditional seat and a mask all for the original price of the statue! Way to go Hubs!! We headed out of the market and back to the car and on to the next hotel.

On the way to the hotel we visited the village of the Konso people. They are an interesting culture with a very structured village. The Konso was the most organized village of all of the villages that we visited. The village is surrounded by concentric stone walls for organization and defense.  The village boys (12-18) are organized into security, fire and first aid groups and spend the night in the communal hut.  Some other interesting items include the generation trees (erected every 18 years), the victory stones (to mark victories over their enemies) and the wakas (carvings to mark the graves of heroes, tribal chiefs and their wives--by the way, you get to be a hero by killing a large beast like a lion or an enemy and bringing his genitalia back as proof!!)

The best part of this visit was Jacob. He ran all around the village and all of the children in the village ran with him. It was like a swarm of kids running at full speed all through the many twists and turns of the town. I wasn’t able to listen to the guide tell us about his culture do to my constant chasing of Jacob but what I did hear was very interesting! You can read about the Konso here.

We stayed at the Konso Kanta Lodge. By far this was the best hotel we stayed in! It was beautiful and comfortable and the shower was warm and the food was good. After Jacob fell out of bed in the Eco Omo I was paranoid. Even though this bed was bigger I still woke up all night long worried that he’d roll out onto the floor.
Baboon (Badballoon as Jake says) 
Mursi Woman

Food Storage

Game Scout

Mursi woman with baby and lip plate

Jake lifting the marriage stone

Coffee berries

Konso Waka (placed on graves of heros and tribal chiefs and their wives)

Konso Waka

Mursi Girl

Mursi girl with head dress

People of Konso watching Jake lift the marriage stone

Jake petting captured baby sheep

Traditional seats and crafts 
Calabash water bowls 

Coffee pots

Day 5 – Arbaminch

This day was mostly driving. We did stop at a museum that helped to fill me in about the Konso tribe. Since I didn’t learn anything at the village except how fast Jacob can run in a heard of children. We arrived at Arbaminch in the afternoon and checked back into the Swaynes Hotel. The rooms were marginally better this time. After we unloaded the car we had a lunch of injera and Wot. After lunch we traveled to lake Chamo. Lake Chamo is a beautiful lake that is home to crocodiles and hippos. We saw hippos when we went to Lake Tana but I didn’t see any crocodiles. I was very excited to go out on the boat and see some wild crocs! We picked up our guide and headed to the water. When we got to the lake we put on some life jackets that have seen better days and we made our way the water. In order to get out to the boat we had to walk across a makeshift bridge. There was no dock just some junk lined up out to the boat. Some wood, some metal, some old pieces of boat. Surprisingly no one fell in. We piled into the boat and headed out. There were some beautiful birds on the water but I was not there to see birds! We traveled across the lake and the driver turned the engine off. He used a huge stick to quietly push us into the crocodile corner of Chamo. There were crocs EVERYWHERE! So scary! We got fairly close to these monsters and I realized that they are much bigger in real life!!! Next we headed over to see the hippos. We saw a good number of hippos but the annoying thing about hippos is that you don’t get to see too much of them since they stay under the water. Hippos can be very dangerous so we kept a pretty good distance from them.

We got back to Swaynes in the evening and relaxed a bit before heading to the restaurant for dinner. We had fish in honor of our lake excursion and it wasn’t bad. After everyone was settled into their rooms I snuck back to the lodge to put Jakes meds in the fridge, leaving Jacob with Brenden, and I also wanted to use my iPhone for the first time in months. So fun to get on Facebook and check my email! Oh the luxury! My 20 minutes of freedom did not go unpunished. As soon as I walked into the room BANG! I heard this loud smacking noise followed by loud wailing! Jake fell off the bed and hit his head on the tile floor! It was the loudest head crack I’ve heard in a long while. I ran to him and quickly scooped him up. No sooner had I picked him up then the Hubs walked in. He heard the loud crash from his room and ran over. We checked him out and determined that he had a very thick skull and that it sounded worse than it was. He calmed down pretty quickly when we mentioned cookies. After cookies, we settled in for the night!
Nile Crocodile



Hippo Fly


Terrifying Bridge

Jen and Hippo Fly

Day 6 – Addis Ababa

DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE!!!! We drove all day long! We did stop to see some water birds at a lake. The birds were the coolest, ugliest birds that I’ve ever seen! We arrived home at 6pm, tired and stiff from sitting but more enlightened than we were a week ago!  Until next time friends and family!

    Survival Tips

Take your malaria pills
Don’t get too close to hippos
Make sure you have enough beds for all kids
Bring lots of single birr notes for pictures
While driving keep your camera set for action shots
Bring bug spray!

Feeding the birds