A Travellerspoint blog

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Getting excited.......& nervous!

10 days to go!

Posted by tia-saz-fitz 01:38 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

First stop Hong Kong !

DAY 0


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Tired but impressed with the view of the mountains !

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Posted by tia-saz-fitz 17:00 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (3)

Arrival in Addis Ababa

DAY 1

storm
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We landed in Ethiopia at 5:30 in the morning after 22 hours flying !
Outside the airport in the crazy throng of Russian taxis and minivans we met our friend Yared for the first time in 8 years.
When we arrived at the guest house where we are staying for a week we introduced ourselves to the family who run the guest house.
The place is called Oziopia! The family who run the place are super nice. We are very tired but we are trying to stay awake!
The family who run the guest house are preparing a traditional Ethiopian meal!!
Today has been really warm but now there is a thunderstorm! Tomorrow DAY 2!! We will put in another entry tomorrow!

Written by Tia

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The Oziopia Guesthouse loungeroom has a large montage of the Australian adoptive families who have stayed there over the years, many of whom keep coming back for holidays or to track down family information for their children.
A poignant reminder of the Australia/Ethiopia adoption program that once was is the cot in the main guest bedroom that will never again be used for adopted babies.

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Posted by tia-saz-fitz 17:00 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (3)

T'Hitna meets her family for the first time !

DAY 2

sunny 25 °C
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We had thought about this day for the last 8 years and knew it would be emotional.
Tia was understandably nervous and unsure about what to expect.
Yared (our Ethiopian friend and trusted guide) drove us to the town in which Shibere was living which was about an hour from our guest house and in a more hilly area with lots of gum trees.
The roads were quite bad and I worried about Yared's van.
Zebideru, Tia's 19 year old sister, had travelled to Addis that morning from Fiche.
We ended up meeting them outside a church in the town as Yared knew we would need help finding Shibere's house.

One minute after spotting them on the side of the street we were all hugging.
Shibere was overcome with emotion at seeing Tia after all this time!
She kept saying "I didnt believe you would come"

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Shibere lives in a hilly, incredibly crowded and extremely poor part of Addis.
Rocky, dusty, muddy and filthy roads lead past countless poky tin shed shops, in, out and around bartering and vehicular mayhem to shanty houses jumbled upon each other.
Her home is a tiny, mud wall and mud floor hut with holes in the tin roof.
It is the length of her bed and no more in width.
She shares a wall and, via a hole in the wall, her light bulb with the filthy, communal, dirt floor, squat toilet next door.
When the toilet is unusable, the locals use the ground outside her window which is just a sheet of flapping plastic.
She has a few basic cooking utensils and a simple charcoal stove.
When Zebideru makes the arduous bus trip from their home village of Merabete in the mountains to visit her Mum they have to share the single bed. The bed is however only a recent luxury - Shibere used to sleep on the mud floor until our friend Yared took her shopping.

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Posted by tia-saz-fitz 18:00 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (4)

Ethiopian coffee ceremony

DAY 2


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The Ethiopian coffee ceremony is a great example of their hospitality.
It is a mark of friendship and respect.

Firstly fresh grass is scattered over the floor and the smell of incense burning is welcoming to guests.
Our host Zebideru sat on a stool in front of the charcoal stove whilst she roasted the raw coffee beans.

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We were offered the smoking pan to inhale the aroma of the roasting beans.
Next the beans are ground up with a pestle and mortar then brewed in a pan of water.

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The coffee is poured into the serving jug and then served to each guest in a small cup.

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Protocol states guests should have at least 3 cups......just as well we LOVE coffee.
Bread and popcorn are also served with the coffee.

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Posted by tia-saz-fitz 19:00 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (0)

Daughters of Charity

DAY 3


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Today we had the privilege of meeting and spending the morning with Sr. Brenda from The Daughters of Charity.
World Families (Australia) have helped support this charity and their project work.

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Sr. Brenda first showed us the school they assist for children until they reach grade 3. We donated some school books, picture books and coloured pencils (a big thank you to St John of God and Our Lady Star of the Sea friends who donated these).
We also passed on a cash donation from by the staff of The Cottage by the Sea.
A big thankyou to CBTS from Sr. Brenda for this generous donation.

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Next we visited a gentleman who, through their Income Generating Project, was assisted to become a weaver.
He is only one of many other locals assisted with equipment and training.

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Our next stop was a womens' cooperative where they make injera to sell locally.

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Finally we visited a savings and credit association which allows members easier access to funds for setting up small business. It was amazing to actually witness and hear the stories of the difference these projects are making in peoples lives.

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Sister Brenda's headquarters, her vocational training facility and the community banks are all built from old shipping containers so Fitz, a self-confessed container freak, was in heaven !

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Posted by tia-saz-fitz 18:00 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (0)

Lunch at Dashen Restaurant

DAY 3


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Most houses in Ethiopia have enclosed compounds behind high walls and huge, fancy gates.
Similarly, many restaurants and cafes are hidden behind nondescript facades.
A wonderful oasis can be found hidden away from the chaos and noise of the street.

In 2005 we found one such place with wonderful food for a memorable lunch with our new child.

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Eight years later Tia was on the same chair again but now a bit too big to stand on Mum's lap and with her newly met Ethiopian mother, sister and uncle there as well.

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The restaurant is going to be demolished soon to make way for a new housing development so we found ourselves Dashen back there a second time to make the most of it.

Posted by tia-saz-fitz 19:00 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (0)

Life in Ethiopia

DAY 4


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Today we went to the Hilton to let Tia have a swim and to use the WiFi to write some blog.
We stayed at the Hilton 8 years ago when we came to collect Tia so have fond memories of it.

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Donkeys are everywhere ! They carry HUGE loads such as big sacks of sand.

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In 1895 a French diplomat advised the Ethiopian Emperor to plant Australian gum trees to solve a deforestation problem.
They are now EVERYWHERE ! - the most noteworthy use is for an OH&S nightmare - scaffolding ! - for even the biggest buildings !

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The first Eucalyptus tree planted in Ethiopia - at Emperor Menelik II's palace in the Entoto Mountains overlooking Addis Ababa.

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Tonight our hosts provided a delicious, traditional meal of lamb called Tibs.
It was VERY fresh, local produce !

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Poverty and hardship forced our host Abebe's mother to leave her village at the age of 7 !! and walk !! by herself !! to Addis Ababa to find work.
Abebe painted a mural charting their family's progression from his mother leaving home to poverty in a mud floor hut to running a guest house for Australian adoptive families.

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Wherever there is a mains water connection there is a gravity tank as mains pressure is too low to supply the typical 2 or 3 floor house and supply is very unreliable !

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Ethiopian women always dress immaculately.
From the filthiest street and the smallest shanty hut, that you can guarantee has the most diabolical, mud floor squat hole toilet imaginable, it is normal to see girls dressed to the nines with high heels and women in beautiful and colourful traditional gowns that are mostly gleaming white, dodging around mud bogs, dead dogs and donkey poo.

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1 Australian Dollar (AUD) = 18 Ethiopian Birr (ETB)
1 Ethiopian Birr = 6 Australian Cents

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Hello = Seulam
Goodbye = Chow
No = Yellem
Thankyou = Amesagunalhu

A typical country town cafe.

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A typical city cafe.

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A typical city restaurant.
Our favourite - Dashen Restaurant.

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Typical meals.

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The staple food - which also serves as the cutlery - Injera

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Coffee ceremony.

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Popcorn is served with the coffee.

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Trying the local honey wine up in the mountains.

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This was a really clean example of a country toilet.

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Street scenes.

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Home made coffee pots.

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A typical village compound.

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The Addis Ababa Hilton.

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Something to get used to ! Toilet paper is not flushed down the toilet - it's put in the bin !

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Boys prowl the streets selling the National Lottery tickets from huge ticket rolls.

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Beggars are everywhere. It's illegal to give them money.

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A shoe-shine boy in Gondar.

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The Roha Hotel Lalibela was built to resemble a rock-hewn church.

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Lalibela Airport.

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Ethiopian cattle are much smaller and less productive than ours.

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Internet cafe.

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Desert on the way north to Merabete.

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A house near Wondo Genet.

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The taxi van and tour bus of choice - new model Hiace vans everywhere !

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Roadside onion shop down south.

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Malaria is a big problem in the Lake Tana area.

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Posted by tia-saz-fitz 17:00 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (0)

Museum, Palace & Pizza

DAY 5


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Today we drove up into the Entoto Mountains outside Addis Ababa passing miles of the ubiquitous gum trees, donkeys and runners.
Ethiopian athletes do their training on the mountain roads and with the capital at 7700 feet above sea level and the mountains around 10,000 feet it's no wonder they are the best distance runners in the world.

The museum was full of amazing and colourful priests' gowns, lavish robes of the Emperors and Kings and a fascinating collection of holy relics and regal trappings. Unfortunately, no photographs are allowed there.

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Emperor Menelik II's palace overlooks Addis Ababa and is the site of the first eucalyptus tree planted in Ethiopia.
In 1895 the Queen stood on the verandah looking down the mountain side to a beautiful area below of lush greenery and flowers and decided that it should be the site of the new capital of Ethiopia. Thus began Addis Ababa which means 'new flower'.

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We finished the outing with a lovely lunch in an Italian restaurant - Tia's mum would not have pizza as she had never seen it before and didn't trust it !
The restaurant is opposite the National Museum where we went 8 years ago to see the famous skeleton "Lucy" - the earliest known hominid.
We can remember being very shocked back then to buy our ticket right beside a woman lying on the footpath with a tiny, new baby she had obviously delivered on the street the day before.

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Posted by tia-saz-fitz 17:00 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (0)

Meeting my extended family

DAY 7


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I met my extended family!! I found it very emotional and so did my family! I met one of my cousins who looks just like me! She is older than me but I am taller than her! I also met another cousins who treats me like I am her sister! She is very caring. Her and I are friends. She gave me a photo of her and my other cousin. She also gave me a necklace. On the way there it was a very very very bumpy road!
Guess what! I went on one of the worlds most dangerous roads! It was very scary and dusty. We were up at high altitude, but it was hot. We had a coffee ceremony at my Grandmas house. We stopped at a market and it was extremely busy! We bought a shawl to put on the couch back at home.
On the way back to the guest house some of my cousins came to the market with us. We said goodbye and my cousin that I am very close to gave me a big hug because we are best friends!!! I found it very exiting, fun and emotional. I had a great time meeting my extended family and i also enjoyed making a new friend

Written by Tia

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Tia's grandmother put on a beautiful lunch of traditional Ethiopian food for us.
She had even gone to the trouble of preparing the house for her long lost granddaughter by caulking the walls with fresh cow poo !

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Posted by tia-saz-fitz 17:00 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (7)

Heading south

DAY 9

sunny 29 °C
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Today we headed south in Yared's van to Lake Langano.

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We left a bit later because my dad had been sick over night after he ate some scrambled eggs at a cafe.
When we were about a kilometre from where we were staying, there were kids running up to the car asking for empty water bottles! There were 3 girls dancing on the road to get some birr (money).
At Lake Langano we stayed in a really nice hut called a tukul! We went swimming in the lake but at the very first bit you stepped in it was very rocky! The water was a lovely golden brown colour! Even though it looked dirty it is very healthy for your skin! There were gigantic tortoises!

Here are some pictures of Lake Langano!!!!

Written by Tia

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Posted by tia-saz-fitz 17:00 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (3)

Bulbulla and the cow!

DAY 10


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We headed to Bulbulla a small community about 15 mins from Lake Langano.
We had arranged to meet Sr. Ababa Kidane who was here setting up a new project for The Daughters of Charity.

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Sadly Sr. had already identified several physically and mentally disabled children within the community who previously had been hidden from sight due to cultural reasons. One child who was in critical need of surgery had fortunately been taken to Addis Ababa for surgery thanks to an emergency donation. The families are wanting assistance but don't want the child to be seen in public. Further to this there is no medical assistance available within the community and most of these families are struggling to survive.

PLEASE NOTE THESE PHOTOS WERE TAKEN WITH PERMISSION

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Sr. Ababa has identified several projects to be developed to assist the community. A women's cooperative, a women's clinic, assistance with agriculture including establishing an irrigation system using the river behind her compound.

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Sr. Ababa was thrilled to receive the donation for a cow or cows which she will purchase for 2 village families.
She wanted me to pass on her gratitude to all the people who donated for this.
THANK YOU TO JUMPT FITNESS, SJOG CRITICAL CARE & OUR LADY STAR OF THE SEA.
You will be making a huge difference to these families.
Sr. Ababa will email me photos of your cow or cows when she has been to market to purchase them.

We had an wonderful day here and I learnt so much but my head is spinning!
Sr. Ababa is so energetic about what needs to be achieved here in Bulbulla and we hope we can continue to offer our support.
We also passed on to her a large bag of clothing, pharmaceutical and medical products which had been donated.
THANK YOU TO MYER ST FAMILY CLINIC, CRITICAL CARE SJOG, OUR LADY STAR OF THE SEA AND JUMPT FITNESS for your generosity.

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Posted by tia-saz-fitz 17:00 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (0)

Meeting Haile Gebrselassie

DAY 11


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Today we travelled to Hawassa to stay in a hotel for a night.

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On the way we stopped for a coffee at the Haile resort owned by the famous Ethiopian Olympic runner Haile Gebrselassie..
As we were leaving and while my dad was looking at Haile's trophy, a man walked into the hotel and guess who it was? It was Haile Gebrselassie !!
I met Haile five years ago when he won the Melbourne marathon, and he remembered having his photo taken with the Ethiopian kids on stage.

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He was very nice and he insisted on taking 2 photos! I felt a little bit nervous and at the same time i felt very excited meeting him.

Written by Tia

Posted by tia-saz-fitz 18:00 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (2)

An interesting boat ride

DAY 11


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This afternoon in Hawassa we took a boat ride on the lake to see the hippos!
Unfortunately it was pretty choppy water so it made for an interesting trip!
You may not be able to make out the hippos but we did see them and from the boat it felt close enough!!

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On the way back from the hippos it was even more choppy and we ended up getting very wet! Later on we found out our boat driver had been chewing chat - a plant many Ethiopians chew which is a mildly intoxicating stimulant! We don't think he cared too much about us getting wet!! The truck drivers in Ethiopia chew chat to stay awake and because many of them have a ready supply on the back of their truck as they transport it to Addis for the thousands of customers there. The chat delivery drivers are known locally as 'Al Quaeda' as they drive like possessed maniacs !
The roads are littered with crashed 'Al Quaeda' trucks !

Posted by tia-saz-fitz 19:00 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (0)

Monkey business

DAY 12


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Today, when we were having breakfast something unusual happened. Here is the story.
I was having a regular breakfast with my mum, dad and our friend Yared when all of a sudden a monkey appeared. It was over near my dad and everyone turned to have a look when the monkey jumped up on my chair and stole my pancake!! We started laughing and we couldn't stop!

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Posted by tia-saz-fitz 18:00 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (0)

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