It had been such an amazing week. It seemed so long, yet short at the same time. I think we were all ready to go home, but at the same time, didn't want to rush our time. This was special -- we were in our childrens' birth country. We wanted to take it all in. I'll tell you... my lungs were sure ready to leave though. It is unbelievable how bad the air quality is in Addis. I really don't think the higher elevation played a role in my inability to catch my breath or walk up flights of stairs. I was doing that, without problem, until day 3 of the trip... and then I felt like I was breathing in straight carbon monoxide and dust, and my lungs couldn't find find any oxygen to breathe.
The big event of the day was going to see the new Hannah's Hope. The current home is falling down around them and too much time is being spent on repairing everything, and also... they have outgrown it. Both Stacy and I commented on the fact that the current Hannah's Hope was more rundown than we were expecting. I suppose when you look at other people's photographs, you aren't looking at structural things, you're searching to see if you can find your child amongst their pictures. Although, I would take this scenario any day of the week -- phenomenal care with a falling down house versus the alternative... although, just imagine if you could have phenomenal care and an amazing new house? That is what is about to happen in the near future.
We loaded up the vans for the supposed 15 minute drive to the new Hannah's Hope. 15 minutes plus an hour and a bit, when you get caught in a massive traffic jam. Honestly, I didn't mind it. It gave me an opportunity to witness routine life surrounding this traffic route. We did get nice and toasty sitting in the van, however. The kids were just troopers... we had Maeve stripped down to her onesie by the end of the trip -- Ethiopian culture of dressing the babies warmly was not going well for Maeve. The poor girl doesn't do heat. Ironic isn't it.
Finally, we passed the jam and arrived at the new Hannah's Hope. It is beyond amazing. Its a new building -- actually two buildings to be exact. One building will house the babies, and the other will have the older kids. Almaz said we weren't in a suburb of Addis, but it seemed like one to me. A much better place for Hannah's Hope -- away from the poor air pollution and craziness of the city. There is also a school just down the street, where the older kids will attend. Stacy and some other parents stayed behind to do some theme painting in some of the rooms, while the rest of us took the kids back to the hotel and started packing a little for the return trip.
We checked 6 bins on our travel to Ethiopia. We returned with 2 bins, a donated suitcase, and a backpack full of items. We definitely brought home more than we had anticipated. It may have had something to do with the 25 kilos of coffee that we purchased (and, you should have smelled our hotel room -- latte anyone?). Packing to go home was reminiscent of packing for the trip... we had to shuffle things around to ensure that we didn't have overweight baggage on the way back either.
We were airport bound at 6pm or 7pm... all I know, it was early. Our flight departed at 11:50pm. We were tired before we even started. Stacy and I found a little cafe within the airport and hung out there for a little while. Eventually we boarded our first flight to Amsterdam via Khartoum, Sudan again. My recollection of Khartoum is hazy and weird. We landed around 2am, so you're sort of in a sleepy stupor. They turned on all the lights, people were embarking, and Christmas music was blaring on the loudspeakers. It seemed like an odd time of day/night to be festive. Eventually they closed the plane, turned off the lights, killed the music, and the world was right again.
Our flight home was very tolerable. Maeve was as good of a traveler as you could ask a six month old to be -- there was a lot of walking the aisles and greeting the same people over and over. (Oh hey... what's going on... So, what movie are you watching now....) My friend, Andrew, so graciously offered to pay for a day pass for Stac and I in one of the lounges in Amsterdam's airport. It was so fantastic just to get away from people and chaos and just relax... Thank you Andrew. So, after traveling about 25 hours... we landed safe and sound in Seattle, cleared immigration, and were happily greeted by friends and family.
It was a trip of a lifetime.
Outside of the current Hannah's Hope
Some of the babies' rooms
These two pictures were taken in the main floor room of Hannah's Hope -- so it doubles as a nursery room and a main space.
Some rooms of the new Hannah's Hope. Its amazing how great it looks already.
"B" and "W" holding hands...