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.