Sunday, April 10, 2016

"I'm going to miss that hot guy." Ethiopia Days 9 and 10

The days are long but the week flew by. Our last morning in Ethiopia at YL camp came so quickly-- we also knew this day would be crazy long as we traveled all the way back to the US.

We showed up for breakfast at 7:30-- about 30 minutes before anyone else was ready to eat. Kah-tee led us in some Jazzercize before it was time to start serving. Two rolls per plate, some injera mash, buna and tea.

While we were at camp most of the Ethiopian YL kids wanted to take pictures with the firenjes or just took pictures of us when we weren't watching. Initially this was a little uncomfortable, but we quickly realized this was exactly what we had been doing to everyone in Ethiopia the whole time we'd been here. There's something in each of us that in captivated by what's different than us. 

Alex, Smoon and I opted to sit outside and enjoy the breeze during the last Club of camp. I will miss hanging with my gal pals all day every day.

The last game challenged the kids to be the first one to run out of all their bubbles. You need some major lung capacity for this one.

I finished three giant friendship bracelets by the end of the week. I'd given a few to Fre, Hannah and Rahel before I was swarmed by all the kids at Megabi Skate. The last three went to my friends Becky, G and Moges. I told them they're all honorary members of the FBC.

We took a bus ride up to the top of the mountain to see the original camp where the boys still sleep and the lodge where the staff bunked. Smoon and Hools were twins today.

I hadn't expected to find cactus in Ethiopia. But there were succulents all over the place at camp. (This one's for you Crimson Tate.)

The view from the top of the mountain was amazing. We could see across the lake to the resort spa and camp down below us. This would be the perfect spot to install a zip line like at Castaway or Timber Wolf.

Even though it's hard to say good-bye to this place and our new friends, I'm so lucky to have shared this experience with friends like Kah-tee, Hools and Smoon.

"Alex Craig, Clap, Clap, Clap-Clap-Clap." After days of dreaming of Subway and Diet Coke with crushed ice she was very ready to get to the airport.

Oh G, how we love you. You will be so missed-- push up parties, your sarcasm, passion for leading Club, the way you've welcomed us and how you're always up for being crazy with all of us empt firenjes. 

What a crew. Our Ethiopian family.

I'm not quite sure what started this friendly fight between Smoon and G but it was certainly entertaining.

Rachel is one of the most photogenic people I've ever met because this girl is so confident in just being her. It's beautiful. She's the definition, "I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud."

Craziest moment of the whole trip:
Right before we started eating lunch three unrelated things happened at the exact same time.

1. No one is allowed to swim at this camp because a boy drowned about a year ago. A couple boys were swimming in the lake and a leader from a different tribe told them they weren't allowed. The swimmers didn't know if he was a leader or a kid so they started yelling at and insulting him. The leader's kids defended him and started fighting with the swimmers. This fight was like nothing we've ever witnessed-- they picked up giant rocks (like the size of a basketball) and started hurling them at each other.

2. This just happened to be the moment that all of the bulls ran through camp to get their drink of water at the lake and made the crowd run out of their way.

3. A girl watching things #1 and #2 happen from the pavilion fainted and then fell sideways off of a flight of stairs about 10 steps down and landed on her head.

At first we didn't realize that things 1, 2 and 3 were all unrelated. Leaders ran out to pull apart the fighting kids and another group of people rushed to help the girl who had fallen (they brought her inside, poured water on her to cool her down and soon she was ok). No one was hit by the rocks but a boy appeared to have thrown out his shoulder. We were totally ok the whole time, watching the craziness from a safe distance away, but it was definitely unnerving.

Moges and the other leaders ended up having one tribe eat lunch first by themselves so they could leave camp without interacting with the rest of the kids and avoid further conflict. We packed up the bus with all of our luggage and said good-bye to G. Through tears Rachel said, "I'm going to miss that hot guy." We started the drive back to Addis with Hanna, Fre, Escadar and Becky.

 I was sitting up front in the bus with Smoon and Kah-tee on the drive. I got them to share their impressions and observations of each other. They're both phenomenal humans and I loved that they recognized that in one another this week-- speaking about one another's strengths and gifts. Living life with both of them at the same time was such a gift and one of my favorite parts of this whole trip.

Watakay was waiting for us back at home with an early dinner before our flight. That's Watakay in the purple shirt and green skirt in the middle.

We finished showers and packed up our stuff for the flight back home. Then we had time to just sit and talk with our friends one last time. This whole being-together-without-an-agenda isn't something that we do very often at home but something that we valued this week. I wish I could just hang out with Hanna and Fre all the time back in Indiana.

More singing with Rachel, braiding hair before the flight and laughing about stories from the past week. Moges arrived from camp in time to pray for us before sending us off to the airport. When Hanna, Fre, Becky and Ebe hugged us good-bye at the airport I'm pretty sure we all had tears in our eyes. They will be so missed. 

The journey home:

Walking around the Addis airport. People watching strangers. Boarding the plane and realizing there were no empty seats this time. Getting to sit beside Kah-tee and Alex. Set our watches back from 10pm to 3pm so we could start thinking in the right time zone again.

17 Hour Flight: Watched Cheaper By The Dozen 2, Our Brand Is Crisis, Prestige and Big. Writing lists with Smoon. Finished a Friendship Bracelet. Stopped in Dublin to refuel. Airplane food that I just couldn't eat. The last Cliff bar I ever want to eat in my life. Turbulence that made our trays fly in the air and almost made Kah-tee use her barf bag. Short spurts of sleep.

Washington DC: Landed at 8:30 am. Multiple lines of customs/passports/security/baggage. Beyond thankful for American food. Hools got an Auntie Anne's pretzel first thing. Kaitlyn, Alex and I stopped for Wendy's. I was so excited to eat my cheeseburger I got it out and started to eat it while we were walking to meet the rest of our friends. Chipotle party-- Smoon almost cried she was so happy. Talking about all the reasons we loved this food-- crunchy, textures, vegetables, meat, ice in our pop, Diet Coke, ketchup, salt, cold guacamole. Starbucks for the plane. Said good-bye to Kaden and sent him off to Oklahoma.

1.5 Hour Flight: A plane ride has never felt so short. More lists with Smoon. What felt like minutes later we handed.

This was part of an art exhibit in the airport-- this poem immediately reminded me of the time we spent with our Ethiopian friends. 

Indianapolis: WE MADE IT HOME! More BC Serna pics. Dewolf fam greeted us at the gate with hugs and flowers. Steve and Jesse were waiting at the bottom of the escalator to hug KCraig and Alex. Rachel Phillip's dad and Kaitlyn's parents met us at baggage claim.

Smoon headed back home to Wisconsin via Illinois without a phone. Hopefully that orphan at Megabi Skate is loving it. She'll get a new one before heading back home to Madison.

Before I even made it back to my apartment I stopped at the grocery to pick up strawberries, grapes, apples and oranges because I've never wanted fruit so badly.

This trip was so many things-- hilarious, heart-filling, heart-breaking, uncomfortable, packed with joy, community infused, smelly, freaking fun, so long and yet so short. It was all that I had hoped for and more.

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