Ethiopia Day 1, Part 2
I'm sick. Sooooo sick. Possibly the lack of caffeine plus no real sleep, the intense altitude change and the adrenaline rushes. The fact that I have had to eat foods I'm allergic to and gluten (which I haven't had in 2 months). Possibly have traveler's too, right now. Feeling miserable.
I got to the Bole airport and went through immigration for my visa with no problem. I got some money exchanged. I got my (very obviously mine) bags (zebra stripes for easy identification!). Then I went outside and waited for my driver. And waited. And waited. I waited until they said I had to leave. And then, being the adventurous and unafraid soul that I am, I walked around looking to hire a taxi. Unfortunately, no one knew where my guesthouse was and none of them spoke English. So of course I hired one of them anyway and off we went. We ended up getting super close but because of construction and the fact that I haven't been there in 16 months, I couldn't recognize the exact street. So we called the guesthouse on the driver's cell phone (he was so nice) and had a guard come to where we were and he showed us the way. We were seriously about an 1/8th of a mile away.
I then had to call my original driver but he doesn't speak English so I just kept saying my name, the guesthouse, and the time. I ended up hanging up on the poor man because we just couldn't communicate. He showed up soon after and yelled at me (kindly) for not waiting for him (apparently my plane got in early and it was also thought that immigration would take longer). I got the typical, "You don't get in the car with strangers," tirade, as close as I can tell. But I could also tell he was secretly proud of me. ;)
We waited around two hours for the transition home to open. Then we drove (the bumpy roads and fumes did nothing to help how I was feeling) over to the TH (transition home). I saw someone bringing Natalie to doorway and shoved my phone into a kind fellow mommy's hand (thank you Stephanie!!!) and then stood in the doorway. A precious face came around the corner. She started running to me and I held out my arms (too sick to run haha). She wrapped her arms around my neck and didn't let go. One minute. Two? We stood there indefinitely. I loosened my arms and she squeezed tighter so I just held her and smoothed her hair. My precious girl.
It's bedtime right now and I can't possibly describe everything that happened but here are the highlights:
-She kept writing on a piece of paper, "Mama, you are beautiful. I love you."
-She has a LOT of signs, ASL, Amharic, and home sign. She communicates excellently. Great at gesturing. Hysterical storyteller. She imitated Mia and I almost died.
-She doesn't like when she asks about a sign and it's different than what she uses. And she doesn't like that I don't know the Amharic alphabet. I think she assumed I knew Amharic sign and she keeps spelling words with the Amharic ABC's and I'm clueless. I need Levi!!!!!
-She wants to be loved. She played with my hair, she held my hand, she laid in my lap. She kissed me goodbye. She told me she loves me.
-She told me, "Mama NO fly away! We fly together! NO GO AWAY!!!" When I explained I would have to leave solo this time she got upset and demanded the rest of the day to know "How many????" days till she goes with me. She's still upset with me because all I could say was, "I don't know." Then she kept signing, "Later, laaaaaaaater, we fly together?" I tried to explain that next time all of us would come but we couldn't take her and then the last time, Z and I would come and then she would leave with us. She's not happy about it. She keeps demanding to leave on Friday with me and it's breaking my heart.
-She knows what she wants and she's vocal (with signs) about it. She told me she wants me to bring a doll tomorrow. Thank goodness I brought one hahaha!
-Her laugh is the cutest thing ever. And it's pretty rare. She laughed twice yesterday: once when she saw Levi telling a funny story, once when she was playing with the babies and I tickled her.
-She loves me, but she's definitely hesitant to trust me.
-She is a HAM. A riot. A crazy girl, totally mine. She loves lipgloss and hair and shoes and kiss-faces. She'd be happy if we took pictures all day. She took a million yesterday and I spent an hour or so deleting all the bad ones.
-I wasn't there 30 minutes before she handed me a comb and sat down to have her hair done. I totally impressed everyone by braiding her head in an hour. All the Ethiopian women and girls COULDN'T believe that I could braid, much less braid WELL. I got super popular from that. Then she showed them pictures of Z's hair (the kids were FLIPPING out with excitement about the different styles) and said, "Mom's gonna do cool designs like that on my head too when I go to America!" and all the kids were like, "You're SOOOO lucky!"
-She loves to help. And she's great with the little kids.
-She doesn't like my nose ring. She and Levi can commiserate about that together.
-She can spell a lot of English words! She is SO smart.
-She tasted all my gronola and Luna bars, and crystal light and didn't like any of them.
-She are about 20 pieces of gum? Hahahahah! ;)
-She is addicted to Fruit Ninja. "Game" is the first new sign she learned because she kept asking where it was on my phone. She is SO adorable when she plays. My phone was COVERED in sticky fingerprints from 50 kids handling my phone and my battery went dead in about an hour or so from everyone playing Fruit Ninja and Talking Tom.
-I got told by my driver and by multiple nannies that I was a wonderful mom. All the staff kept asking about "Tamiru and Hanna!!!!" and I showed so many videos and pictures and they were very satisfied. They kept saying, "You are so wonderful for *Natalie*!!! We are so happy that YOU are her family!"
I wish I could write more but my head is pounding. I love you all.
2/5/14, 7:11am my time, 11:11pm your time. I work up 30 minutes ago and I'm enjoying my GIFT. I'm lying in bed. Undisturbed. For as long as I want (or until 8:30am haha). My bed is sooooo comfortable. I woke up when I was ready (no alarm) and I have a good book and come iced tea (thank you, crystal light!) here with me. I'm reading a little notebook from Abe, which had a note to me for every step of the journey, and is locked with little stickers so I'm sure to only open them at each step. So romantic. <3
I get to take my time getting dressed and doing my makeup. And then I get to spend the day holding big kids and little kids, playing with them and just LOVING LIFE.
P.S. I LOVE Ethiopia. I'm IN love with Ethiopia.
Especially all the kids.