After a solid 11 hours of sleep, we awoke to start our Monday in Addis. Breakfast was served at 7:00 each day and primarily consisted of dabo (bread) with various toppings (jams, Nutella, butter, etc.). We learned later in the week that if we showed up on time for breakfast (ahem) we would also have the option of scrambled eggs or porridge.
By the time we finished breakfast, the babies were down for their morning naps, so we had some time to kill. For some reason, going into the trip we hadn’t expected to have quite as much down time as we ended up having. Obviously we knew that babies sleep a lot, but we somehow hadn’t thought of the fact that it was not only Baby K’s sleep schedule that we would have to follow, but also the sleep schedules of the other babies. We learned fairly quickly that if the door to Room #1 was closed and there were no sandals outside, that meant that all of the babies were sleeping and the nanny was not in the room. If we saw her sandals outside, we knew that she was inside. Sometimes, though, we would approach the room and she would tell us that the babies were sleeping, so we would just go back to our room to hang out.
Speaking of the nanny, there were actually two nannies tasked with caring for Baby K and the other babies in her room. Each nanny would work on her own on a 24-hour shift. There was a little room with bunk beds between the two baby rooms that I imagine the nannies used overnight when everyone was sleeping. Those nannies worked very hard, that’s for sure, keeping up with so many babies! But they also had a great routine and they certainly handled it all well. We were instructed by our agency to defer to the nanny as the one in charge of Baby K’s care, which we did. She would make the bottles and give them to us, and she did the daily bath and all of the diapers. As Craig said, it was sort of like we were in grandparent mode – just there for the fun stuff.
Anyway, during the morning nap time, we did some reading in our room and I was able to get use the guest house’s painfully slow dial-up internet connection to send an email to our families letting them know we had arrived safely and that we had met our girl (and that she was fantastic). I also used this time to take in the view of the city surrounding us from the rooftop patio.
Once the babies were up, we spent about two hours with Baby K, holding her, playing with her, and trying unsuccessfully to get her to smile for the camera. We quickly discovered that she is a very happy, easy-going baby and she smiles right and left. However, we were struggling to capture the smiles on the camera! (Thankfully we got better at this throughout the week,and she probably got used to that big black thing being stuck in her face.)
Another couple arrived that morning, and we were fortunate enough to witness them meeting their five-month-old son, N. It was a special time, of course, and we were able to take some photos of them during those initial moments. (Nobody else was there when we met Baby K, so we figured while we eavesdropped and stared we could at least take a few photos for them.) We were happy to have another family in the room to talk with, since most of the other families in our travel group were adopting older children.
Later in the morning, Baby K started to get fussy and cry – she was hungry. After not hearing a peep from her on the first day, I was actually glad to hear her cry. One hears horror stories of babies that become conditioned to not cry after living in orphanages, so I was glad to hear her speak up when she needed something.
Soon it was time for naps for the babies and lunch for the grown-ups. On this day we were introduced to the delicious fruit treats we enjoyed every day with lunch; an amazing avocado and cherry smoothie was served to us at the end of the meal.
We didn’t go out during the afternoon nap time today since four of the families had their court dates, so Craig and I hung out on our own at the guest house.
During our afternoon time with Baby K I started to take a few photos of some of the other babies for their families (who had given us permission to take photos). I was so grateful for the photos we’d received of Baby K a week before our trip, and I certainly wanted to pay it forward for others. We also met with the nurse who oversees the care of the children at Horizon House to discuss Baby K’s medical records. We were so happy to hear that she had been very healthy (knock on wood) and hasn’t required any medical attention other than her standard check-ups and vaccines.
The baby room got pretty hot and stuffy at times, so we took Baby K out into the courtyard to get some fresh air. I haven’t mentioned the weather yet, and all I can say is that it was absolutely perfect. Addis has a very moderate climate, in part due to its high elevation (close to 8000 feet). The daytime high temperatures were about 75 degrees and I would guess it went down to around 60 or so overnight. And the sun – the glorious Ethiopian sun – shone all day, every day during our week’s stay. When we go back, however, we will likely experience some of the rainy season.
While we were outside, I saw that the guard had brought out a number of beautiful scarves. Apparently he and his wife weave them – he said it takes 6 hours to weave one scarf – and he has a great little built-in business with all of the families visiting Horizon House. I purchased several scarves at 100 birr each (that’s about $6, so a total bargain). After a while, Baby K got hungry and sleepy, so it was time for her to get her last bottle of the day and go to bed.
For dinner on this night, we had an Italian-influenced meal that included both a zucchini dish and an eggplant dish. I would say that most of our meals had some sort of Italian influence. I am not sure how much of the reasoning behind this choice of cuisine is tied to the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in the 1940s (we’ve heard that there are some fabulous Italian restaurants in Addis) or how much was simply that many Americans are pretty happy eating Italian food so it’s sure to please many palates.
Oh, and look who hangs on the wall over the dinner table. Hilarious!
After dinner we tried to watch a movie on my brand-new i.Pad but the movie was terrible and I fell asleep anyway. Craig went downstairs to the living area to read for a while. Poor Craig had a tough time sleeping in Addis, but I did pretty well. The beds are very hard (which we had heard about beforehand), and there are lots of sounds outside, including some incessant dog barking and early morning calls to prayer broadcast over loud speakers. Thankfully my new-fangled device had a white noise app on it that, combined with prescription sleep aids, helped me sleep just fine all week.