We awoke to our last day in Ethiopia. We were the only ones at the breakfast table, and afterward, during morning nap time, I spent an hour on the roof with a knitting project while Craig napped. At this point in our trip, he was feeling pretty crummy with a (self-diagnosed) sinus infection.
We spent the rest of the morning with Baby K, of course. We had a nice time and took a lot of photos. We also made an attempt at trying some tummy time, which was clearly something that hadn’t been tried before. It was a bit hilarious but we eventually rescued her from her perpetual face plant.
We also heard Baby K get really, really upset this morning for the first time; she was so upset even her nanny seemed shocked. I’m sure she was primarily hungry, because it was close to feeding time, but the meltdown occurred when a young woman came into the room and took Baby K right out of Craig’s lap. We didn’t know who this woman was, but we had seen her around a couple of times, so we figured she must work for our agency in some capacity. There is a very different culture in Ethiopia over the handling and touching of children (namely, they approach and touch children they don’t know where we don’t handle anyone else’s kids without permission), and we know that on any other day it would be good for someone to come in and give Baby K some extra attention. I was a bit annoyed that this went down this way, but at least Baby K let her have it!
Today for lunch (again, just Craig and me), we were treated to a delicious homemade pizza and mango and cherry smoothies. We used the afternoon nap time to pack up our stuff and relax a bit. We now had two extra bags (that had been full of donations on our way over) but the duffel bag folded up into the suitcase, and we used that suitcase to carry our newly purchased items, except for the paintings, which were rolled into a tube that we hand-carried. We had a brief power outage but the power came back on in time for us to do some last-minute charging of our devices for the trip home. Sometime shortly after lunch, another couple that had been with us earlier in the week returned from a side trip out of Addis.
Around 3:30pm we went back for our last visit with Baby K. We stayed for a couple of hours and tried to keep our spirits up, just enjoying the time with her. We left a little photo album that included photos of us so that the nannies could show it to her while we were gone.
The staff made dinner early for us to accommodate our departure for the airport, so we had a dinner of Ethiopian cuisine with the other couple (who were also on our flight) around 5:30pm. We then stopped briefly in Room #1 to say goodbye to Baby K. It was approaching bedtime and she was lying in her bassinet, but she was still awake. Her nanny had put her photo album in the bassinet with her, which I thought was sweet (but I also knew it wasn’t going to stay there). I scooped her up and held her close, fighting against the tears, and I told her that I loved her and that we would be back as soon as we could. After a last hug and kiss I handed her over to Craig. At that point her sweet nanny swooped in and gave me the biggest, warmest hug. The nannies don’t really speak English but there was no language needed at that moment. I knew she was telling me that she would take great care of our girl. Thankfully Baby K was her usual cheerful self throughout all of this and she just kept smiling. That helped me through what was likely the most difficult moment of my life.
We went back to our room to bring our bags downstairs and I broke down into full-on sobs. But it was time to go so there was little time for a meltdown (unless I wanted to do it in a pick-up truck with four other people), and I think that was probably a good thing in the grand scheme. As we walked out the front door of the guest house, I did not allow myself to look over at her room; I just couldn’t do it. We left Horizon House with heavy hearts.
We had a nice time hanging out with the other couple, chatting over beer and wine at the airport bar. Our flight left at about 10:30pm. We had another empty seat between us on the plane, so that helped us to be a bit more comfortable. We watched movies, read, played games on the iPad, and were fed several times. We flew about 6 hours to Rome, where we were on the ground for about an hour to re-fuel (but did not leave the plane). Then it was another 10-11 hours to Dulles, where we landed around 9am. It was a very, very long flight and we were not able to sleep much even though we were physically and emotionally drained.
We had an amazing time on our trip- it was truly the experience of a lifetime. We certainly hope we are back in Ethiopia very, very soon.