Lilypie Waiting to Adopt tickers

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

7 of 7 - Other things of note:

As I type these I am on the first leg of the flight and I feel like I'm on one of those hidden camera TV shows where unknown actors try to get you to yell or cuss at them or they pay you. I was stuck between a guy whose halitosis is strong enough to seep through his cheeks and a guy who has a rash on his face that itches. Thankfully bachelor number one is being amused by an inflight movie and bachelor number two has decided to quarantine himself entirely under his blanket. On the downside he snores. And both passengers apparently need the whole armrest plus the four inches that ends at my flanks.

Ethiopia is one of the most beautiful places. The countryside is serene and goes on for feels like forever.

The shower downstairs at the guest house has two settings: freshly melted arctic glacier water or Satan's teapot.

You can buy OxyContin over the counter but finding a throat lozenge is nearly impossible. Three different times we walked into the grocery store where there is glass case FULL of FreeGels, which is Amharic for Halls. Every time they told us no one was there to work the counter. Morning and night. "No one is here" they would say pointing behind the counter. Yes, I realize that Sherlock but do you think since you're not doing anything you could hand me one or two packs of those menthol candies??? No chance.

Solomon likes futbol, Aresenal Club and the color blue. He wants a bike. He takes care of Eyasu a lot. He pesters him some too. He can go from stoic to silly faster than you something that doesn't take long to do. My prayer for him is that he relinquishes his leadership role over the kids that has been thrust upon him and is able to enjoy being a boy while he still can. I want him to ride bikes and play sports and be silly. Later on I want him to be a leader agin. One who cares for and serves others in the name of Christ.

Rahel loves music. Her favorites are going to be a problem: Rihanna, etc. I may have gotten her hooked on Lecrae. she like the color blue. She speaks very softly and is timid with her English but I think she understands better than any of them. She would love to have an iPhone. She's hopeful. I'm doubtful. My prayer for Rahel is that she would trust me to guard her heart and protect her. I hope she allows me to be a part of her decisions. From who is worthy to marry all the way down to the music she chooses to listen to.

Yoseph is a singer with a beautiful voice. His face fills with joy when he sings. I love to hear him talk. I love when he says "papa". He likes karate and is really quite strong. He doesn't demand attention but always welcomes it. He'd like an iPad. Not happening anytime soon. I pray Yoseph would use his incredible gift to honor God. I pray his kind heart is protected until we can bring him home. I hope God will sustain his joy and that it will overflow onto those who are around him.

Eyasu is the funny monkey. He is 90% silly and 100% sweet. And he will be a handful. He kisses me on both cheeks and the forehead several times a day. Sometimes my hand, or my neck, or my hair gets sugar too. He likes to cuddle and craves attention. He also likes anything his older siblings are doing. For Eyasu I ask God to guard his heart from bad influences. Keep him childlike even through adultlike circumstances. I hope his sense of humor and love of fun fuels our entire family for decades to come.

They all have such gentle spirits. I'm sure there are times they get at each other but you can tell they genuinely love one another. Going through what they've gone through together yields a wonderful closeness. Mostly I pray they would all become what God intends for them- His children, adopted finally and eternally into His family.

Ethiopian coffee can be used as an alternative fuel source. I'm quite certain one gallon could power a New York city block for 72 years. It's good stuff. I dread going back to the flavored water you all are currently suffering through.

New update on bachelor number two. He is now using our shared armrest as support for his buttocks. I'd take a picture but the other passengers would think odd thoughts.

When I was waiting to be called in for court I met a coule adopting three little girls. They actually have a ministry there in Addis. It's called Transformation Love. They work with the outcast at Cora. If you'd like to know more about Cora and how you can help check out their website. It's a Christ-like thing they are doing and I'm certain some of you reading this are feeling a tug that direction.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

6 of 7 - Last day (Thursday):

As I board the plane the clean air is refreshing and missed as it is not found in Addis. But there is an ache, my kids are not with me and I will not see them for too long. We packed our things in a mad rush because we remembered our flight time incorrectly. By "we" I mean "I". I thought it was 8:30pm when in fact it was 7:30pm. When we got to the guest house from returning the kids to the orphanage the ladies were preparing the coffee ceremony in full. We observed it in passing, offering as much time and genuine curiosity as our crisis would allow. The coffee was truly the best I've ever had. In a coffee ceremony they start with fresh green coffee beans and end with piping hot coffee that would make the naked Starbucks lady ball up into the fetal position and weep. They roast the beans over coals, grind them in a bowl-thing with a nob-thing both of which I'm sure have names. With fuel in our belly we rushed to and through the airport and made it with an hour to spare. Better to be safe than sorry. But I'm getting ahead of my self. Let's talk about the day.

Today was a good last day. Last night was the first full night of sleep I got. By full I mean I only had to wake up to blow my nose and drink water and cough a few times. Donnie and I had breakfast together at the guest house. Fresh scrambled eggs, bread, and coffee that could walk. It's thicker than Ving Rhames and about the same color. I think the coffee would win in arm wrestling though. They make it fresh every morning by going through the steps in the coffee ceremony only probably less ceremoniously.

We went shopping at lots of little...inlets? The people were very pushy, like at The Buckle. We bought Solomon and Rahel some shoes that didn't fit to replace the ones that didn't fit. I'll come back to that. We bought traditional garb for me and Jessica and all the kids, Evie included. It'll be asurprise. I'm really excited about this! We bought coffee pots, daggers, wooden animals, and other similar essentials. I also bought these cool bracelets made of leather, rope, and beads. Jessica has been looking for something for us all to have, to create unity and a sense of family. I think it's a good idea. When I presented it to them later in the day, I showed them I had one for mommy and Evie. They laughed at the idea of Evie wearing it. Maybe we'll attach it to her car seat. Alozar, our driver, is bargaining like a champ. I can't understand what is being said but I'm quite sure he works these shopkeepers.

On our way to get the kids we saw the saddest thing I have seen to date: Cora(sp?). It is a trash heap that stretches for what would be several city blocks, maybe a mile. There are buzzards circling overhead, eyes alert looking for food. The stench is unbearable, like nothing you could imaging. And there among this filth there are human beings in tattered cloths searching for anything edible. Some are old and decrepit. Some are mere children. Some have babies bound to their backs. All are outcasts, not welcome in the city. Banished here due HIV or aids or leprosy. They are the poorest of the poor. Is theirs the kingdom of Heaven. I pray so. I'll provide information on how to help in the last post titled "Other Things of Note".

Afterward we went to pick up the kids. They are glad to see us. I am sad it is our last day but I'll try to stay upbeat. Solomon and Rahel try on their shoes and we head back to the market to trade them out. Solomon found some he liked and they cost a lot more. Alozar worked his magic and I paid a little more. I would've paid the first price asked. I love making my kids happy. That'll prove to be a problem I'm sure. We went back to Rahel's shoe store and they didn't have her size. The guy was getting loud and being ugly. Rahel seemed to be wilting; she is uncomfortable. I just want to pay whatever and get her out of here. I interrupted the verbal battle and told Alozar to make sure Rahel is ok. He said she told him she doesn't want to cause me any trouble. It's no trouble sweetheart. I want to provide for you. All of you. Alozar wants him to let us return them for a refund since he doesn't have a decent shoe in her size. She found some and said they were ok but I know she doesn't like them. Plus the guy wants 100 more bir(?), roughly five dollars. I don't want to pay more for a shoe she doesn't like. I would've gladly paid more if she liked them but I wanted her to be pleased. He ended up giving us back a little more than two-thirds of what we paid and we went elsewhere. She quickly found some other shoes and we were on our way to the guest house. Just as a side note, she wasn't being picky. All the guy had in her size heels and flats and loafers and such. She needs tennis shoes.

We walked up to Kaldi's for lunch and ice cream, which in Amharic is ice cream. We laughed and gave our best shot at communication. Eyasu lapped at his ice cream like a puppy. It was fun. On our way back to the guest house we took pictures and held hands and laughed. As I type this the recent memories of laughter brings bitter sweet tears. The joy of my time with them, passing court, and thoughts of the return trip. The bitterness of the distance and time that will soon lay between us.

At the guest house we realize our flight leaves an hour earlier than we thought. That means we have to pack up and return the kids. We won't have much time at the orphanage to kiss all the other kids goodbye. I think the only regret of the whole trip is on the ride back to the orphanage. Yoseph sat on the front seat and I didn't get to hold him and love on him for those last few moments. I sat in the back with my arm around Rahel and Eyasu in my lap listening to music on my iPhone. After awhile I moved up to sit with Solomon. We talked as best we could. Smiles and laughter communicate a lot. Eyasu moved up after a few minutes and started a tickle fight between the three of us. It was great fun. I just pray Yoseph didn't feel left out.

Arriving at the orphanage I kissed them and held them tightly before we went in the gate. In there all the kids want your attention. Once inside I gave all our leftover candy to the workers to distribute as they wanted to. They may eat all, I don't know. I gave the kids some Starburst and a glow bracelet. Rahel led me to her favorite spot, the baby room, again. It was there she started crying. With the workers we took pictures, most of them revealing Rahel's sadness. I didn't break until we headed back down the stairs. I had gathered myself once we reached the bottom (it's a lot of steps). I lost it again with the final hugs. I whispered in my kids ears that I'd be back to get them. God, please speed.

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." Jesus said that.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

5 of 7 - Day 4 (Wednesday):

The sore throat and stuffy head is getting the best of me. I fake it all day as best as possible in front of the kids and crash hardcore at night. It's like Jekyll and Hyde. During the day I'm the nice one. I don't think I'm stark raving mad at night, just quiet.

Today we pick up the kids and take them to what's known as the gorge. It's similar to the grand canyon. Maybe not quite as big but certainly grand in its own right. It was a few hours drive to get there. As we drive Solomon lets us know that the countryside reminds him of their home, Waliso. It gives me some satisfaction knowing something new about my children. On the way we play games on the iPad and talk and stare out the windows. It is breathtaking. There is a shepherd boy that can't be older than five. I know I often exaggerate (it makes for good writing), but not this time. He is a tiny little thing with some sort of cane whip in his hand and no adult in sight. And you can see for miles out here.

Once we arrive at our destination we eat traditional Ethiopian food. Another joy is watching my kids eat. They're so good at it! I'm admiring myself having not dropped anything in my lap and then it happens. (sigh) The red meaty chili-like substance seeps into the fibers of my new jeans and I glimpse my materialistic nature. I'm seated at a table with one of my best friends and my oldest four children in a landscape of God's amazing artistry and I'm focused on my jeans. Shame on me. I turn my attention back to my kids and won't look at the stain again.

The view is amazing. We are sitting 10 feet from an indention in the earth large enough to lose Rhode Island in. Sorry RI, you always get picked on for being small. Words are lost on moments like this. The food is great. The company is best of all. My kids come alive in the outdoors. Maybe it's the tremendous amounts of pollution in the city. Maybe it's the high walls of the orphanage. I don't know but my heart longs to free them once and for all. Don't get me wrong the orphanage is not a terrible place. It's actually pretty nice by Ethiopian standards. But it's still an orphanage. Dozens of kids but very little room to play. Lots of caring nannies but no parents. It's still an orphanage.

After we were done eating we make our way down to the Portuguese Bridge. It's a bridge built of clay and ostrich eggs over 400 years ago. I don't know. That's what they tell us. It looks like archaic cement to me. It's a rocky walk with changing slopes and shifting stones to get down to it. I take the opportunity to hold my daughter's hand. She is wearing flip like a girl. Solomon and Yoseph are way ahead of us, scaling the terrain like surefooted mountain goats. We cross the bridge and make our way down to the pools of water. The older boys bound ahead making for some difficult leaps for little Eyasu and flip-flopped Rahel. I am happy to help them across the difficult jumps. I hope they'll always trust papa to help them across the difficult jumps. Rahel reaches down into one of the pools and attempts to splash Solomon and Yoseph. She missed with the majority of the water but it still got their attention. We laughed and frolicked. Frolicking is fun when you have good frolickers with you. No one should frolick alone. Back up to the top and a few last pictures in front of the beautiful gorge and we are on our way back.

Part of the way back I listened to music with Rahel and then moved to sit with Solomon and Yoseph. They fell asleep in my lap. It occurred to me that I don't have enough lap space. I'll have to work on that. We drop them off and head to the guest house and on to dinner at Lime Tree. Donnie will have the veggie pizza and ginger lime tea. I'll try what he had last night, margherita pizza with a sprite to wash it down. It actually took two sprites to wash it down. I don't recommend the pizza at Lime Tree. I tried to redeem the meal buy having piece of cake. Not a good idea. The cake was mealy and dry. If an establishment can't do pizza decently there's a good chance their cakes wouldn't win any awards. Now on to our nightly routine at Jupiter hotel for wifi conversations with friends and family. Donnie will have a pot of coffee and I will drink two glass bottled Sprites. Always a good ending.

Monday, December 5, 2011

4 of 7 - Day 3 (Tuesday):

Well, by now you probably know we passed court! But what you don't know are the details and a wiseman once said "the best tales are in the details". Actually I just made that up.

I pull myself up after very little sleep. I'm excited and scared about court. And I've got a terrific cold to accompany me. Yay. I'll devour breakfast with a bunch of other house guests. Eggs, bread, and that amazing Ethiopian fresh brew. I let Donnie sleep because I may have kept him up throughout the night hacking. Turnabout's fair play; he used to snore like sawing logs.

Dereje wasn't there and that made me a little nervous. I heard so many good things about him, I really wanted him there. He knew our case and I had some questions. They sent a replacement. Blah. We didn't see eye to eye. He was an inch taller than me.

Court was a bit anticlimactic. We're in a room full of foreigners trying to adopt kids and are being called in in groups according to the orphanage we are adopting from. Ours was near the end. The room was almost cleared by the time we were allowed into the mysterious single grey door. Inside are two desks and three ladies. The one in charge rattles off something in what I assume is Amharic while the other two write furiously. The lady in charge was beautiful in a strong governmental sort of way, like Lady Liberty or Judge Judy (see sarcasm). She was a softer Condoleeza. She asked a few questions of me and the other couple "Have you read up on international adoption?...Do you know a bit about Ethiopian culture?...Will you allow the children to know their heritage?...Is your family supportive of this adoption?...Do you understand that this is final when I sign this paper?" In the end Condi said everything was in order for us and we passed. I guess I expected song and dance, but a graceful nod and smile will suffice.

We are headed back toward the guest house stopping at several locations to try and find some throat lozenges. This is no small task in Ethiopia. I've been told twice now that they are no longer on the market. Two gentlemen in line in front of me at one pharmacy are purchasing OxyContin and Loratabs over the counter. They can buy narcotics but I can't purchase menthol-flavored candy? What gives?

I met with Dereje that afternoon. He is very nice. Explained everything. Answered questions. Completely patient. It was a little weird that he was wearing a scarf when it was over 80 degrees outside but whatever floats your boat.

On our way back to the guest house, yet again, and this time in need of a nap. We slept about an hour and then head to the orphanage to visit the kids for a bit. I'm excited to tell them the good news of our passing court. I'm not sure if they understand the process all that well but certainly my excitement is evident. I spent much of my time in the baby room with Rahel. Donnie played downstairs with lots of kids. I knew I needed to and wanted to go back down and spend time with others but it's hard to get away when one of your kids is enjoying you so. We hung our heads out of the top floor window. She shouts greetings at people she knows (and maybe some she doesn't) down on the street and she pointed out different buildings visible from there. There's quite a lot one can see from the fourth floor of the orphanage.

Alas, it was time I had to go. We went back down a couple of flights and met Solomon on his way up. They brought me into the playroom where Rahel's best friend was watching a movie. We stayed there for a while. Solomon and I went onto the balcony and talked before returning to the bottom to rejoin the others. We played a bit longer and then left. Court and all it entailed ate a good piece of the day.

For dinner we are trying Lime Tree. I'll have the spaghetti with a ginger lime tea. The spaghetti is quite good. Nothing extravagant but good cafe style spaghetti. The ginger lime tea is strong enough to remove paint from the wall. It burns my sore throat in a really good way. We'll come back here tomorrow night, drawn by this tea, yet our experience will not be the same.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

3 of 7 - Day 2 (Monday):

There are about 5 families at the guest house and one of the guys I met at a conference a few months ago. He's here picking up his little boy. Seeing a familiar face 9,000 miles from home is strange as it is delightful. People gather for breakfast or maybe sit and chat on the porch or in the living area throughout the day. It's a fun atmosphere and some wonderful people. I didn't make it to breakfast every morning. I blame the cold that kept me up several nights.

I was ready to spend more time with my kids so we go to get them up from the orphanage to bring them to the guest house. We arrive at the orphanage and they are at school so we drive over to the school and they show us around. It is dilapidated. This is what I pictured the orphanage being like. Thank You God that it's not. Small cinder block rooms, 50 or 60 square feet, with concrete or dirt floors might have 10 or 12 babies sleeping in a pile. This is a day care. They are happy for me to meet theirteachers and I enjoy getting to see into a different part of their lives. Rahel was not at school; she was getting her hair done. Since we are going back to the orphanage to wait on Rahel the teachers send the rest of the kids with us so they won't have to walk back. It's about a five minute drive. That would make for a pretty long walk, not to mention the age of the children and the nature of the traffic. If you've ever been to a third world country you may have a grasp of the traffic. If not imagine New York with half of the streets being unpaved. The drivers obey less rules. Take away traffic lights. Add dozens of farm animals and you're getting close.

We are headed back to the guest house with our four lovely children in tow. Donnie and Yonatin walk back up to get lunch for all of us. In the meantime,
Solomon is playing basketball with Kilintin (Clinton), another young man being adopted who is with his soon to be family at the guest house. Eyasu and Yoseph kick the soccer ball around or rock in the chair on the front porch. I call them all together and give them their clothes that Jessica sent. All fits well
except Solomon’s and Rahel’s shoes. Bummer. Papa will fix it. Still waiting for the food, Yoseph wanted to play a game so I got out Jenga. We play for a little
while and then I let Gavatchu (Clinton’s brother) take my spot. Rahel is hanging out with the ladies that stay behind the guest house. I don’t quite know how all this works but they cook and clean and watch kids. They are super sweet. She is enjoying talking to them so I don't want to pull her away. I am jealous. I wish I could carry on these conversations with my kids that other people have. The communication is not quite there yet. One day. Soon.

The food arrived. Donnie and I have pizza or something like it. It has some strange shredded meat on it. I force myself to eat a couple of pieces. It's not that bad. I am enjoying watching my kids eat. Yonatin picked out some traditional Ethiopian food for the gang. They are really enjoying it. I love having a meal with them. It is a first. They laugh and talk and eat while I dream of us all being together around the table very soon. This all seems surreal. touched my pocket and said ‘phone?’ I knew I had the power to gain all their attention by allowing them to play games and music on my phone. But I had something better. I went to get the iPad and introduced them to Angry Birds. They played music on my phone and took rounds playing games on the iPad. After a little while I got paper and pens and colors and let them write letters and/or draw pictures for mommy. I colored four different pictures, one for each of them, that represented us as a family. I wrote essentially the same message on the back of each page: We love you so much. We are trying very hard to bring you home to us as soon as we can. Love, papa.

On the ride back to the orphanage they each have their own bench seat to themselves. I'm sitting next to Solomon. I ask, "Are you happy?” His response: yes. Then I ask if he wants to come live in the United States with us. Yes is again his answer. I move to each seat and ask the same two questions to each of the children and the answers are all the same. I kissed each one of them and spent a few minutes just sitting there with my arm around them. Rahel was on the last seat in the back. As soon as she said yes to coming to live with us she put her arm around my neck and pulled me in for a big kiss on the cheek. She beat me to it and I was so glad.

Tonight we have reservations to go have a traditional meal with a bunch of other adoptive families.

The restaurant is alive with music and dance. There's a guard at the door frisking the patrons. There must have been 30 of us in our group! The food was ok. Buffet style Ethiopian cuisine is probably better when you're with Ethiopians who can help you know what's what. Jenna, the girl next to me who is here with her brother who's adopting an astonishingly cute little boy, ended up with cow stomach on her plate. I almost ended up with the contents of my stomach on my plate. The music is great. A four-piece band playing instruments you've never seen and wearing traditional Ethiopian wardrobes is a sight and sound combination to take in. Add in traditional dancers and you've got a superb night. The male dancers are doing things with their shoulders that only high voltage electric shock can do. And the females do this head banging maneuver that combines 80's hair metal and a well worn bobble head doll. It would've put Willow Smith to shame.

Good day. Good night. Tomorrow is court.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

2 of 7 - Day 1 (Sunday):

I am very nervous meeting the kids for the first time. It is a different nervous than meeting Evie. A newborn has no expectations. But our oldest four, what will they think of me? Weak or strong? Sissy or sensitive? Stupid or funny? I received strong hugs from them all. It was a bit strange, not the hugs, but the meeting in general. There are so many kids here vying for attention. They're all so sweet. I want to love on all of them but I also desperately want time with my four. I gave a BlowPop to each child who was old enough to have one and also gave one to the nannies. Throughout the day Eyasu climbed all over me. He is very affectionate. Yoseph stays pretty near me as well. Solomon is hanging next to the wall. Rahel was slow to come downstairs to meet me, but she was the first one I saw. She was standing on the balcony awaiting my arrival (at least that’s what I’d like to believe). Someone told me she was changing clothes, "getting pretty" before she came down and saw me. She didn’t need to “get pretty”, she is gorgeous. Her hug was the longest and tightest of all.

We play a variety of games with all the kids. Some of the kids want to show off a trick or talent. Each of them wants your eyes on them. Finally I'm going to attempt to pull it all together by taking turns jumping rope with a few of them. They all laugh as I fail miserably to jump a rope that is a few feet too short for me. They all took turns showing off their jump rope skills; I showed my ineptitude. We did cartwheels and karate and I picked the kids up in the air, starting a trend that would have lasted indefinitely. I noticed Donnie was showing some pictures and videos to some of the older kids so I used that opportunity to give my arms a much needed rest. We gathered around my phone and looked at pics and vids of Evie and Jessica. The kids laughed out loud at Evie's sweet smiles and yawns and at Jessica’s video message to them. They mocked her saying “y’all”. That was priceless.

I notice Rahel is not around so I make my way upstairs to find her. I told her I want her to see some videos and pictures so she walked down the stairs with me. As we were descending I mustered up some courage and put my arm around her. I didn’t know how she would respond. She grabbed my hand and wrapped it tighter around her. She leaned her head into my chest and that’s the way we walked until we reached the bottom floor. It couldn’t have been better.

We watched most all of the videos and pictures again with Rahel and she beamed. I am still beaming from our walk down the stairs.

Friday, December 2, 2011

1 of 7 - Our trip there:

I'll preface this initial post with a disclaimer that the following several posts have not been thoroughly edited. I tried. I cried. So they are somewhat in their raw form...

Some wonderful friends who live in Houston drove across town to pick up our car so we wouldn't have to pay to park it for a week. See, Donnie rode to Houston with Jessica's parents and I drove me and Jess and Evie. In Houston I traded my wife and youngest child for a traveling partner. They rode to Louisiana with her parents, my car went with friends, and Donnie and I boarded the plane. The opposite transaction will occur upon our return.

It was all somewhat uneventful. I hate removing my shoes to walk on tiled airport floors. I'm a slight germ-a-phobe. All that will soon go bye bye. We left Houston around 6:30pm on black Friday flying to Dubai. It struck me at some point that we were leaving our country on a day drenched with materialism to travel to country where poverty abounds. We were in the air about 14 hours and landed at around 7pm on Saturday. Crossing time zones is weird.

Donnie and I have less than 12 hours in Dubai so we'll ride the Metro to the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa. Both are incredible sites. Look up the Burj tower. Crazy. We are staying at a hotel overnight in Dubai and will board a plane to Addis in the morning. Going from the airport in Dubai to the airport in Addis is serious transition. Someone is there to pick us up. He found us after only a few minutes and we were off to the guest house.

Drive time is very short so we didn't really see much of the city on that little trip but what we did see shocked us- at least some of it. I don't know if I expected the mountains. Rolling hills maybe but not full grown mountains. The land scape is beautiful. I also didn't expect the pollution. Jessica warned me. I didn't know the extent of it. We are talking about standing between a city bus and your grandpa's tractor on a windless day while they try to see who can rev their engine loudest. Burns the nostrils...and the throat...and the eyes. The rest I was prepared for. Hopefully one never gets used to seeing that level of poverty but I had seen it before in other countries I've visited. Animals and pedestrians on the street are nothing out of the ordinary in other parts of the world. One other thing was quite odd though. The trees there are purple. I'm kidding.

The guest house was close to what I thought it would be. Plain, humble, old, but clean. By the last day I will even allow my unshod feet to touch the floor. It is a gated two story house with 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom downstairs along with a kitchen, dining, and living area. A spiral staircase leads to 3 more bedrooms and another bathroom plus a suite with its own bathroom. We are occupying the two downstairs bedrooms on each side of the bathroom. We're unloaded and ready to go meet the kids...