Travel Journal – May 2, 2010

2 05 2011

Sunday May 2

The dogs took the night off and I slept well.  We had to be ready to leave for Durame at 6:30 am.  So I woke Jamie up at 5:45.  We went downstairs and had breakfast, I ate my typical buffet choice of the scrambled eggs with veggies and a plain crepe.

It is great that I have been getting by with no Diet Coke here.  I did have one yesterday morning – a well timed gift from R.  But that was the only one.

We got in the seafoam green van with M, M and J, plus D.  I got my normal seat behind the driver with control of the window.  (Note:  M, M and J were an adoptive family.  Their daughter M, who was five at the time, was a terrific traveler.  D works with our Agency in Uganda.)

Our vans at our pit stop half-way to Durame.

We left Addis in a direction we haven’t gone before and I learned that is a small river not far from our hotel.  We saw a bottled water plant a textile plant and a place where they are building govt. housing.  It sounds like the families have some buy into the projects and they stay well maintained.

We saw lots of donkeys equipped to carry two 20 gallon (?) yellow jugs of water… Sunday is clearly water delivery day for many places.  We continued south into the countryside.  At one point I thought I identified a barn but I quickly realized it was a type of housing that looks like two box stalls.

As we got into the country we began to see tukuls.  Many have wood sides but others are entirely or partially covered in plaster like material.  Many of them are painted/decorated around their front door.  One common pattern looks like a tree.  Some are multicolor and some with more ornate designs.  I would love to go in one and see what it is like.

We also saw tukul roof “under construction”.  They build the skeleton and leave it upside down on the ground.  I assume they cover it on the ground and then lift the completed roof on to the base.  (Note:  I have since read that there may be a political reason for the shortage of the grasses needed to make the roofs of all these homes we saw that I naively thought were under construction.)

We saw tons of goats, short haired sheep, donkeys, cows.  Sometimes they would not get out of our way and I would try and touch them outside the window.

We saw a few people riding horses and one guy in a Muslim area had his horse completely decorated with red pompoms on his reigns etc… I did not have any luck taking pictures through the window of the moving van.

I liked the donkey drawn carts that a single person would driver.  There were also donkey drawn “taxis.”

We saw lots of very young kids tending livestock near or on the road.

We saw men working teams of oxen with ancient technology ploughs.

Sometimes you would see a communal grazing area and the kids would be hanging out together near the streets.

In villages people were playing ping-pong and foosball.

I keep falling asleep as I write this but I really don’t want to forget a single thing.

Crops we saw growing included tef, maize, false banana, chat and some coffee.

NOTE:  The drive from Addis to Durame takes approximately six hours.  The Kembata region of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) is actually a naturally fertile area.  However, for a variety of complicated reasons, suffers from extreme poverty and food insecurity.  Some information about Durame can be found here

Our American based agency has a relationship with two rural Care Centers.  (Most people prefer the term Care Center to Orphanage because many of the children housed have one or more living parents.)  A child who is in need of a home usually lives in a rural Care Center until he/she is matched with an adoptive family.  Then at some point in the legal process he/she is transferred to a Care Center in Addis Ababa. 

Our Agency arranges for adoptive families to meeting living birth/first family relatives or other people significant in the child’s life whenever possible.  For our Agency, these meetings take place in Durame, the location of one of the rural Care Centers with which they partner.

It is hard to imagine that I did not journal about our hotel room in Durame.  I guess I was NOT acting like a spoiled American.  As you can see from the photo, the room was nice enough.  See my mosquito net draped across my bed.  Yes, I didn’t have a way to tack it to the ceiling and thought, “no big deal.”  I didn’t sleep slept with extra long socks on, fully clothed and essentially wrapped in the net because I am an idiot.  Jamie slept great.  She took anti-malarial meds, duh.

The real problem was the smell in the morning.  Unfortunately this hotel has septic problems.  The smell enters each and every room through the commode.  I don’t care if a bed is rock hard, if a room is dirty, if there are bugs – I like to camp.  But I would never set my sleeping bag up inside a super, unbelievably, nasty outhouse.  I have heard our agency does not use this hotel anymore.  I am sad as the town obviously needs the business and there is probably nothing the proprietors can do about this particular problem.  But it was a VERY real problem.  I have no idea how Jamie took that second picture and stayed conscious.




5 responses

3 05 2011

I’ve beeen away, so haven’t been able to comment on these individually. But I am loving reading the whole ‘as-it-happened’ thing. Also really liking that you’ve put the photos in place, which makes it way more interesting than if you had just posted the text at the time … this is another series of posts that I wish I could send back in time to myself BEFORE we went. Anyway… keep the insightful, earth-shattering observations coming!

3 05 2011
tamara b

Would love to hear more on the political reason for the shortage of grass. of course, all things ag related are of interest to me. I’m looking forward to seeing those ancient plows up close and personal in 4 weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3 05 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

Tamara, I wish I could remember where I read about the grasses – I probably would have linked. I am wary about writing anything about Ethiopian politics on my blog because a) I know so little and b) it seems like most adoptive parents avoid talking about those issues… I figure there is probably a good reason, one which I am also clueless about. Hopefully SAG will be able to conquer my computer virus again and I might be able to research it a bit for you.

3 05 2011
tamara b

oh and I have a cool pic of you and andrew at the pit stop place where we had to pay for someone to greet us (???) in the bathroom 🙂

4 05 2011

I think some pre-adoptive parents avoid talking politics because of who might be reading their blogs. Yes, I would love to know about the grass issue, though. I love hearing about everything you are seeing.

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