Internet (and power) are extremely limited right now. I will post things when I can.
Another great day. We all woke up about 7:30 and had a great breakfast. This guest house is pretty amazing. We had hard boiled eggs, french toast, and FirFir (injera with Ethiopian stew).
We packed up into the van and then headed to the US Embassy for our final final step. We were out in about 20 minutes, including the security process. Super easy, a relief versus everything else. You basically go there for a two minute interview to answer about three questions.
(emily starts typing here.... a bit less bullet pointed ;) )
After the Embassy, we went up to Entoto mountain. Originally, we wanted to get out of the city so we could hike around and just escape the city, traffic, and business. The pollution actually is a lot better this trip. Our driver said it's probably due to the fact that it is Holy Week and things start shutting down, leaving a lot fewer drivers on the road. Their driving is like organized chaos-no traffic lights, lanes that no one pays attention to, and drivers not pedestrians, have the right-of-way. We ended up driving past the church and King Menelik's palace we were planning on touring and hiking on top of the mountain along with a goat/cow herder and women that were collecting eucalyptus branches to sell down below. These women collect about 50 kilos (approx. 110 lbs.) of branches and carry them all the way down the mountain to see for about 80 birr (or 130 birr in the rainy season) which translates to $4 per 110 lbs. They then walk back up the mountain and start all over again. The kids asked why the women carried them on their backs instead of on donkey's like a few of them did. We had to explain that they didn't have enough money to buy the donkey.
After the hike, we toured Menelik's palace and the church. They were all preparing for Good Friday and making a sort of mash out of leaves that they will use to wash people's legs with on Good Friday. There were already several people there praying and we were told they would stay there and pray until Good Friday. Most people fast during this time and have no meat products at all. They then celebrate Easter with a large feast, ending their fasting.
We then headed to the National Museum of Ethiopia where they have Lucy, the oldest human fossil. We went there back in 2008 and they have made some great improvements. Back in 2008, we compared the museum to a highschool science project by how things were displayed and the corresponding writings. It is sad because so many of their artifacts are millions of years old and deserve a more dignified presentation. Now the descriptions are no longer on foam board but are typed out nicely on laminated sheets.
Our time has been a bit cramped with everything being closed on Friday and Sunday for the holidays so we decided to do a bit of shopping. The boys all got new Ethiopian soccer jerseys and the girls got new traditional Ethiopian dresses. Hermella really wanted a pink one and the area in which we were didn't seem to have any. The shopkeepers kept trying to sell her pink dresses that were way too small or way too big and things you could tell she just plain didn't like. I made Scott and the kids follow me to a section of shopping where I'd been two weeks ago. Everyone was dragging, but we happened to walk into the same shop Hermella had been in yesterday with the Hilawe women to find a dress for her presentation. She beamed when we walked into the shop. Even though she ended up with an orange dress, she was incredibly happy. The extra trip was well worth all of the exhaustion.
Back where we started the shopping, there was a homeless mother and her three young kids. Scott, Oscar and Hermella ended up going and buying them of bag of bananas.
We went back to the guest house and the kids jumped on the trampoline, played soccer, frisbee and lots of giggles and fun.
A nice walk to dinner for some yummy pizza was a great way to finish the night.
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