After threatening to not write a post until she did, ma finally wrote about her trip this past oct! Although it lacks details about the Ethiopian part of the trip, I think its a great intro to our vacation. Please pester her to write more (as well as my lovely sister). My comments are in (parentheses). Without further ado, I present to you my guest blogger:
My Journey to visit my daughter in the Motherland
I flew back in October 2012 more than 20 hours to see my little Breanna. My preparation to go see Breanna in Ethiopia was with mixed emotions. I had not seen her since October 2011 at the SFO airport when she left me and my heart dropped (it seemed as she had dropped off the face of the earth.)
At that time, I had no idea when I would be able to talk to her or even when I would be able to see her. Fortunately, I had a few days after that where she went to Philly before heading to Washington DC and then to Addis Ababba, Ethiopia.
My preparation to go to Ethiopia included bringing her southern belle sister VeLisa from Atlanta with me. Although we booked our flights separately, we would later find out that my trip from SFO to Washington, DC would arrive at the same time her trip from ATL to Washington, DC was. VeLisa and I met up at the airport in Washington D.C. early Saturday morning at 6a. As we approached the counter to see if we could get our seats together, they told us that the trip had been delayed from our 9:30a departure and would be leaving at 3p that day. The flight attendant smiled and handed us vouchers for breakfast and lunch. I looked at VeLisa puzzled as to what was going on. After I arrived in Ethiopia, I learned when the “powers that be” decide it is time to leave/arrive; that is when I will leave or get there. I learned what Breanna would often say to me about why it was taking so long for my care packages to get to her (4 weeks minimum)….”Mom, this is Africa.”
Our trip from Washington D.C. to Addis Ababba took approximately 20 hours. Ethiopian Airlines was wonderful, they had new planes and gave us things such as blankets which had Ethiopia’s colors (which she stole and later tried to hide the ethiopian airlines stamped on the blanket so she could wear it as a wrap. Who you fooling? :) ) , eye masks, socks, toothbrush and toothpaste…I think they fed us every 3-4 hours. But, it truly was a long flight.
When VeLisa and I arrived in Addis Ababba, we met Breanna who was smiling from ear to ear in only that beautiful smile and that giggly laugh that Breanna has (I almost burst into tears while waiting for them to arrive). That night she took us to an Ethiopian Cultural Center where we ate traditional food and watched dancing from different regions of the country. Let me say, Breanna has grown quite accustomed to the culture and food. The food was good that night…but I was thinking…oh my goodness I only eat Ethiopian food once every six months…..how am I going to eat this for every meal? (VeLisa lost her appetite as she watched a cat climb across the ceiling of the restaurant hahah)
Fortunately the next day, we were on our way to Zhanzibar, Tanzania. The flight between Addis and Zhanzibar is approximately 4-5 hours. I learned Zhanzibar is an area that is frequented by Europeans. It has white sandy beaches and crystal clear water like bathwater. We stayed in Stonetown initially which is the artisan area of the city. There we took a spice tour, met with local artists….ate food from the local vendors….let me tell you….During our initial day in Zhanzibar, Breanna sees a vendor who is offering drinks to potential patrons. Breanna says to me and VeLisa, “Oooh look….a cool drink….let’s get some!” VeLisa looks at me and I look at VeLisa. Breanna says “What?” We say, we are not going to drink whatever he is selling. We find the man is squeezing juice out of a sugar can by winding some kind of apparatus and the juice is falling into a bucket that you would use back in the U.S. to wash your car , except the bucket would have been cleaner. He has 4-5 glasses that he uses and after each patron, I think he rinses the glasses off….but I am not sure. I just remember looking at the man, the plastic bucket with dirt on the outside of it , his fingernails had dirt around the cuticles and Breanna has this huge grin on her face where she is happy to be getting a drink. VeLisa whispers to me “Get me to the nearest Ruth Chris.” On the other side of me is Breanna who has stepped up to the man’s table and is saying in her mind “forget both of you, I’m getting this drink” Imagine me as the mother to these two wonderful young women; who at times are polar opposites. (the drink was DELICIOUS) Although Breanna had never been to Zhanzibar, she was our unofficial African advocate and at times I put a huge responsibility on her to help me navigate through total unfamiliar situations.
For example, when we arrived in Zhanzibar, Breanna told us to not let the taxi drivers put our luggage in the trunk of their car- she had heard that sometimes they will quote a price for our trip and then change the price when we arrive at our destination to something higher. So while we are “negotiating” our trip from the airport to the hotel, the taxi drivers were trying to take our bags and I remember my daughter had said to not let them take our bags. Breanna negotiated the trip price and I am wrestling with the guy to not take my bag so I jump into the front seat only to realize I have jumped into the driver’s side as the driver’s wheel is on the right side….so, I am trying to get in the car with my suitcase and steering wheel in front of me and close the door all at the same time to realize how stupid I must really look.
Breanna also got me out of another “hot water” situation where I am trying to negotiate a price on a couple of paintings….but I wanted to see if the offer I was being given was similar to another artist I was interested in. So, I told the first vendor I will be back. He said OK come back and I will give you a good price…I said “give me the American price!” Breanna and VeLisa looked at me like “duh…Mom…don’t you know that Americans pay the most?” The man responded, “come back I will give you better than the American price….I will give you the Swahili price!”
Although Breanna does not speak Swahili….they thought she was Ethiopian and because of that she was able to negotiate a better price than I could have imagined…..But, I had to keep my other eye open as a few of the other local vendors where trying to buy my oldest daughter’s hand in marriage (VeLisa) by offering me a few cows or other animals…..Boy my daughter’s are both something else.
Now I see why it is so hard for Breanna to blog…..I will have to write more about my adventure to see Breanna again soon.
She how she leaves you hanging? Again please pester her into writing more, there’s definitely more to tell. Plus, I think you’d all benefit from hearing her attempts to use the bathroom, ride public transportation, eat at my host family’s house, and trip to the school I teach at. Right? Don’t forget to include VeLisa in on this badgering as she has her own stories