We celebrated the good news of our imminent homecoming by taking our children to see a little bit more of their amazing country. Not too far from Addis is some beautiful countryside. The Gorge is a major tourist attraction here, boasting of breathtaking scenery and plentiful wildlife. We were told it would be about a 3 hour drive. I should have realized they meant Ethiopia time!
After 2 hours we stopped at the restaurant that both our driver and our guide book promised was safe for foreigners. It looked like it would have been perfect, if it wasn’t closed up for renovation. “Don’t worry,” our driver Behilu said, “we find another good place.”
Poor Behilu! He really tried his best. But we insisted on things like running water, electricity, and (no joke) that the bathroom and the kitchen not share the same space. We finally gave in to our children’s grumbling tummies and ate at a place where we saw no other white faces. And, when the food came to the table half-cooked, I insisted that my children not eat any of it. We filled up on injera and got back on the road. Luckily, we had purchased bananas to feed the baboons so my children each filled their stomachs with those.
Another hour later and 5 of my 6 children needed to use the bathroom. This time, we found a suitable place after only 4 attempts. And let me tell you, I really wasn’t being picky! I would have used an outhouse if it was available!
Finally, after 4 hours, we reached the gorge. As we drove down the mountainside, the temperature slowly increased. Here in Addis it is the rainy season and so every day has been chilly. But as you go down in elevation, you start to feel the true African sun. My children were loving it! We stopped and fed the baboons what was left of our bananas. And then we pulled over at a small stream. Behilu told us if we hiked back in just a little ways, we would find a waterfall.
Excitedly, we grabbed our water bottles and headed upstream. Not only did we find the beautiful waterfall, we found a naked man taking his shower under that waterfall! We waited patiently for him to finish, and then we jumped right in! Here are some pictures of my children before they decided that clothes were too restricitive. By the end of our playtime I had 6 children, splashing and laughing and having a wonderful time, in the waterfull in their underwear.
This was one of the best days that we have enjoyed as a family here in Ethiopia. Despite the long drive, the dicey restaurant and the lack of toilets, we had each other. And today, that was enough!